Applications for consent to cut turf on sites nominated for designated as raised bog special areas of conservation under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 or on sites designated as raised bog natural heritage areas under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 may be made to me, as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Details of the number of applications for consent to cut turf on designated sites that have been received and of the decision made in each case are being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible. The draft National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan has outlined the consideration of specific requests by turf cutter representatives to undertake limited cutting in parts of certain special areas of conservation. While the possibility of such continued cutting is likely to be very limited, there may exist exceptional circumstances where such cutting may not interfere with the protected habitat on the sites. These will be looked at in more detail in the coming months as site specific management plans are being drafted.
Following a request by the Tullagher Lough and Bog Special Area of Conservation Turf Cutters and Contractors Association, a scientific review of that site has been recently undertaken by my Department as part of the National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan. The results of this review have determined that turf cutting may be consented to in certain parts of the special area of conservation but will not be permitted in other parts. Tullagher Lough and Bog is quite exceptional as a raised bog special area of conservation and the particular hydrological context allows for limited turf extraction, while not compromising the conservation of the threatened habitats on the site. In the case of Tullagher Lough and Bog, I have issued consent to cut turf, from 2014, to 117 individuals who had applied to my Department for compensation in relation to the cessation of turf cutting but who may now continue to cut turf on the site.