I propose to take Questions Nos. 660 to 662, inclusive, together.
The cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme was established in 2011 for active turf cutters arising from the cessation of turf cutting on 53 raised bog special areas of conservation. This scheme is comprised of a payment of €1,500 per annum, index-linked, for 15 years, or relocation, where feasible, to a non-designated bog, together with a once-off incentive payment of €500.
While applicants are waiting for relocation sites to be investigated, prepared and developed, they may, on an interim basis, opt for the annual payment or opt to receive an annual supply of up to 15 tonnes of cut turf delivered to their homes and to the homes of other individuals who had been sourcing turf from the bog plot in question, where applicable.
For certain special area of conservation sites, where applicants have continued to apply for relocation and that has not been feasible, the 15 year compensation (less any interim annual payments or the value of turf deliveries received) has been made available to them in the form of a lump sum to enable them to source and purchase bog plots themselves.
Just over 2,300 qualifying applicants from special areas of conservation have been provided with payments under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme amounting to €25.4 million. The estimated cost of the provision of payments over the lifetime of this 15 year scheme is in the region of €54.1 million.
1,075 deliveries of turf have been made at a the cost of just over €2.1 million. The estimated cost of turf deliveries in respect of applicants under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme is €3.15 million.
476 applicants have expressed an interest in relocation to a non-designated bog. The process in relocating qualifying applicants to a non-designated bog involves:
i. An assessment of the site as regards turf quality and quantity;
ii. Establishing the number that can be accommodated there;
iii. Engaging in land purchase negotiations and the conclusion of a contract for sale;
iv. An application for planning permission, where required; and
v. The completion of infrastructure and drainage works on the site, subject to the securing of planning permission, where required.
My Department has spent approximately €5.830 million progressing the relocation of qualifying applicants to non-designated bogs. The estimated cost of the relocation process, until it is completed, is €7.630 million.