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26 Jan 2022

Relief in Offaly with government u-turn on peat harvesting on the cards

Relief in Offaly with government u-turn on peat harvesting on the cards

Relief in Offaly with government u-turn on peat harvesting on the cards

Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan has said that she will be immediately engaging with the office of the Minister for Heritage & Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, following reports that the Government’s Working Group on Horticulture Peat is to recommend a spectacular reversal of current peat harvesting policy for the sector.

Deputy Nolan was speaking after it was reported in today’s Irish Independent that sources from the Working Group have indicated the Group’s Final Report will recommend the resumption of peat harvesting in 2022 up to 2030, or 2035, until a suitable alternative product is found.

It is also being reported that a much sought after single-licencing system is to be recommended for the sector.

“If confirmed, these recommendations will go some considerable way in pulling the horticultural sector, and the 17,000 jobs that it creates in rural Ireland, back from the brink of collapse,” Deputy Nolan said.

“It is just tragic that it took so long to get this inevitable point, however.

"Indeed, the government's approach has been a bit like someone driving the family car, crashing it, and only then deciding to take driving lessons on how to drive safely or sensibly.

"We have had the utterly ludicrous situation of peat imports being brought in at an environmental and economic cost that could not be justified. That situation clearly has to end.

"We must have clarity around the volumes of peat that can be harvested, and we must have clarity and absolute assurances that the government will not bring the sector to the edge of ruin once again.

"This whole episode has been a total disaster and one that has totally exposed the detached and unrealistic ‘ambition’ of this government's climate-related policies.

"It is about time that this government woke up and realised that. It has to come back to the real world, as these reported recommendations make embarrassingly clear,” concluded Deputy Nolan.

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