Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (19)

Denis Naughten

Question:

19. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of alternative bogs that have been sourced for turf cutters forced to relocate; the number of turf cutters who have been accommodated; the number who will be accommodated before the commencement of the 2014 turf cutting season; the number of persons who will not be accommodated by the commencement of the 2014 season; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17780/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

A total of 2,918 applications for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme have been received and acknowledged by my Department. Of these, 806 applicants have expressed an interest in relocation to non-designated bogs.

Progress in relocating turf cutters is being achieved in a number of cases. 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. Arrangements have been made to enable 23 qualifying turf cutters from the group from Carrownagappul Bog and Curraghlehanagh Bog to commence turf cutting at the Islands Bog and Killasolan Bog, County Galway during the 2014 turf cutting season.

Progress has been made with a view to the relocation of 7 qualifying 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. 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 an agreement is reached with them.

The Department has provided 7 turf cutters from Monivea Bog special area of conservation with the possibility of relocating to a number of sites which have been assessed as suitable for relocation:

Killaclogher Bog, Abbert Demense, County Galway which could accommodate 11 turf cutters;

Clogh, Cloonkeen Bog, Attymon, County Galway which could accommodate 14 turf cutters; and

Gortnalone South, Cloonkeen Bog, Attymon, County Galway which could accommodate 10 turf cutters.

The responses received from the turf cutters are being assessed. Due to the number of turf plots available, the Department is also endeavouring to determine whether other turf cutters may be interested in relocating to one of these sites.

I am advised that of the remaining 48 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.