Offaly turf cutters fume over Bord na Mona licence letter
One Offaly county councillor has said there is "deep upset" among lifelong turf savers amid a letter on licencing from Bord na Mona.
Fine Gael councillor Noel Cribbin has been contacted by several local residents and former Bord na Mona staff who all received letters last week from Bord na Mona to say that they are not allowed to cut turf on what Bord na Mona claims as their bogs.
Cllr Cribbin said: "Some of those affected are up to 80 years saving their turf for the family home and are now being told that they are out.
"The people involved are very disappointed with this high handed decision by the Bord and certainly no transition time here. The least the Bord should offer is a reasonable time frame for these 60 families to transition away from burning turf and to change to other forms of home heating.
"I have arranged to organise a Covid compliant meeting with all those who received letters next Wednesday evening, April 7, to discuss the serious issue.
"I will be updating my colleague Charlie Flanagan TD, with the intention of calling a meeting with Bord na Mona to ask them to behave reasonably with the turf cutters involved and not to guillotine a lifelong tradition of turf saving in one fell swoop," Cllr Cribbin concluded.
In the letter to turf cutters, Bord na Mona stated that it owns "approximately 7% of Irish peatlands" and acknowledged that these bogs have been used for milling peat for many years.
The letter added that in 2019, the High Court ruled that peat extraction operations, on bogs over 30 hectares, requires planning permission, adding, "we can confirm that the situation regarding turf cutting will remain the same as it has been since 2019 when we last allowed contractors and licenced operators to cut turf on our land."
It continued: "We are writing to you now, as we are aware that, prior to the 2019 ruling, you were previously granted a licence to extract peat on Bord na Mona lands. The purpose of this letter is to notify you that the company will not be able to grant you any further licence for the purposes of peat extraction on any Bord na Mona land."
Contact information was given to each recipient to discuss the matter further.