‘There’s not a ban’: Minister criticises scaremongering over turf proposals

ireland
‘There’s Not A Ban’: Minister Criticises Scaremongering Over Turf Proposals ‘There’s Not A Ban’: Minister Criticises Scaremongering Over Turf Proposals
Minister Eamon Ryan said there had misinformation that the State would 'arrest your granny for burning the wrong fuel'. Photo: PA Images
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Sarah Mooney

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has criticised what he described as scaremongering over new proposals regarding the sale and distribution of turf.

Regulations to ban the fuel’s sale and distribution – but not its burning – are due to come into force from September.

The Minister has always maintained that the controversial regulations will not impact historic turbary rights, which involve the right to dig, cut and carry away turf from bogland to use as fuel for one's house.

On Monday, he told the Irish Independent that small rural communities of under 500 people will furthermore be exempt from the ban on the selling and gifting of the fuel, with the proposals to focus on commercial activities.

The Minister said there had misinformation that the State would “arrest your granny for burning the wrong fuel.”

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“We’re not going to be there waving fingers at people or blaming people or telling them what to do, or there’s not a ban or we’re not going to have the police in,” he told Newstalk radio at the weekend.

“Some of the news you’d hear last week, that some poor person down the country is going to be raided and arrested because they’re burning the wrong fuel – that’s never intended.

“And that’s what I was getting last week, and the way we were depicted was… that we’re going to go in and as I said, arrest your granny for burning the wrong fuel – that was never the case.”

Big picture

It comes as Sinn Féin is due to bring a motion to the Dáil on Tuesday calling for the plans to be scrapped over the negative impact it would have on households in rural areas.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue on Monday said a balance needs to be found between the move away from fossil fuels and the tradition of using turf in rural Ireland.

“Turf is only used in a very minimal amount of instances now, but it is important to those who still use it,” he told Newstalk radio.

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“I think we need to focus on the big picture, and we need to focus on making real progress and we need to focus on that transition from fossil fuel to clean energy - and part of that is that we will see a reduction in turf cutting in the years ahead, as we have seen over the last while.”

The Government has previously stated the proposed ban on the sale of turf is unavoidable because a nationwide prohibition on the sale of smoky coal is not possible without it.

“The problem is legally, you can’t ban smoky coals, the sale of it, without doing something in relation to other fuels,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said.

The proposals come as poor air quality causes premature deaths and each year some 1,300 people die in Ireland due to air pollution from solid fuel burning, according to the European Environment Agency's 2020 report on Air Quality in Europe.

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