Written Answers. - Private Peat Producing Sector.

Seamus Brennan

Ceist:

657 Mr. S. Brennan asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if his attention has been drawn to the serious concern of the private peat producing sector (details supplied) at the lack of any coherent Government policy for their sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16421/96]

Bord na Móna is a statutory corporation established under the Turf Development Act, 1946 with a duty to develop and market peat and peat products. While the board is the biggest single owner of bogs in Ireland, it owns no more than 9 per cent of the total peatland in the country.

In the early 1980s, the then Government recognised the need for the development of the private peat sector. A private bog development grant scheme was introduced under the Turf Development Act, 1981 to encourage the development of the sector through the provision of grant aid towards the development of privately owned bogs. Although the scheme was terminated in 1987, grant aid continued to be paid through to 1995 in respect of works which had been approved but had not been completed at the time of termination of the scheme. During this period over £8 million was paid by my Department in grant-aid to private peat producers. The scheme proved to be a success as private peat production increased to approximately 1.5 million tonnes per annum from a previous low base. The scheme has achieved its objectives and there are no plans to reintroduce a new scheme.
The proposed equity injection into Bord na Mona will not disadvantage private peat producers. The injection will have a cash-neutral effect on Bord na Mona as it will be accompanied by a substantial reduction in the price of milled peat sold to ESB.