As the Deputy is aware, the recently published Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Area (NHA) Network, which is available to download from my Department’s website, provides detail on future arrangements regarding turf cutting on each of the 75 current raised bog NHAs. The Review has concluded that Ireland could more effectively achieve conservation of threatened raised bog habitat through focused protection and restoration of a reconfigured NHA network. This will entail the phasing out of turf-cutting on certain NHA by 1 January 2017, and the partial or complete de-designation of certain NHAs.
To compensate for the loss of habitat within sites where it is proposed that turf cutting can continue, 25 currently undesignated raised bogs, which are either in public ownership, or where there is reduced turf cutting pressure, will be designated as NHAs. Compensation schemes will be made available to affected turf cutters.
These sites will be proposed for designation later this year when all the necessary preparatory work, which is underway at present, is complete. This includes, among other things, the delineation of proposed boundaries, the preparation of site maps and the compilation of the details of landowners and others who may be affected by the proposed designations.
As with all designations, my Department will, in due course, directly contact individual landowners in the relevant areas and advertisements will be placed in local newspapers, explaining why the site is being proposed for designation and the process through which individuals can appeal against the designation of their lands, up to having their case considered formally by the independent Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board.