Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (154)

Denis Naughten

Question:

154. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of bog relocations that have been completed; the number where alternative locations have been sourced that will meet the demand for relocation; the number where alternatives have yet to be sourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35697/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Arrangements for the relocation of turf cutters to non-designated bogs have been made as regards a group from Clara Bog special area of conservation in County Offaly and a group from Carrownagappul Bog and Curraghlehanagh Bog special areas of conservation in County Galway. The group from Clara Bog commenced turf cutting at the relocation site in Killeranny, County Offaly, in June 2012, where 23 qualifying turf cutters have now been accommodated. Turf cutting for the 2013 season took place on this site in April last.

Progress has been made with a view to the relocation of turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog special area of conservation in County Kildare to Timahoe North, County Kildare, which is in the ownership of Bord na Móna. Final agreement has not yet been reached. My Department envisages that qualifying turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog will be able to commence cutting in the relocation site during the 2014 turf cutting season provided that final agreement is reached with them.

Progress has also been made with a view to the relocation of a small group of turf cutters from Ballynamona Bog and Corkip Lough special area of conservation in County Roscommon to Togher, County Roscommon, which is in the ownership of Bord na Móna. My Department envisages that this group of qualifying turf cutters will be able to commence cutting in the relocation site during the 2014 turf cutting season provided that final agreement is reached with them.

I am advised that of the remaining 49 raised bog special areas of conservation, potential relocation sites have been identified for a further 32 bogs and work is ongoing on identifying and investigating sites. Relocation is unlikely to be required, or is likely to be small-scale, for another 16 raised bog special areas of conservation due, for example, to the small number that had been cutting turf on these sites during the relevant five year period and would qualify for the relocation option available under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme.

Relocation is a very complex process, in terms of investigating suitable sites for turf quality and quantity, the infrastructure/drainage works required, establishing the number who can be accommodated on the site, the cost and feasibility of land purchase or lease, and possible planning and Environmental Impact Assessment requirements. In that regard, Bord na Móna has assessed in the region of 50 potential relocation sites at the request of my Department. Bord na Móna is proceeding to negotiate with landowners in relation to the purchase or long term lease of sites.

A payment of €1,500, index-linked, or a supply of 15 tonnes of cut turf per annum is available under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme to applicants while awaiting relocation to non-designated bogs.