I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 and 160 together.
The bog referred to by the Deputy is one of Ireland’s 53 raised bog SACs and contains good examples of active and degraded raised bog habitat, transition mires and quaking bogs, and depressions on peat substrates of the rhynchosporion. These are all habitats that are afforded protection under the EU Habitats Directive. To conserve this site, it will be necessary to restrict turf-cutting and associated drainage activities that would have a detrimental effect on these habitats. However, the bog in question is unusual as a raised bog SAC, in that there are areas of cutover bog which do not contain protected habitats and are not hydrologically linked to the parts of the site that contain such habitats. In most raised bog SACs, turf-cutting may no longer take place because such cutting and conservation of the site are incompatible. The particular circumstances of the bog referred to in the Deputy's Questions may allow for a continuation of turf-cutting in some parts of the site in full compliance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive, and may also facilitate the conservation of the protected habitat through the relocation of turf-cutters away from sensitive areas of the site.
My officials have been engaging constructively with the turf-cutting community in the area, who have refrained from turf-cutting while such a solution is being put in place. Turf-cutters are availing of financial payments or the delivery of turf while this issue is being resolved, which I hope will be fully addressed through the National Raised Bog Management Plan and in time for the turf-cutting season of 2014.