Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Ceisteanna (697)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

697. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of applicants, and the amount in arrears still outstanding, by county, under the turf cutting compensation scheme in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason for the ongoing delays in issuing payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37032/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

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. In 2014, the scheme was extended to active turf cutters from 36 raised bog natural heritage areas. The qualifying criteria of the scheme are that:

- The applicant must have had a legal interest (ownership or a turbary right (right to cut turf)) in one of these sites on 25 May 2010 and must have had the right to cut and remove turf from the property on that date;

- The applicant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period (up to 25 May 2010 in respect of the 29 raised bog special areas of conservation nominated for designation between 1997 and 1999, up to 31 December 2011 in respect of the 24 raised bog special areas of conservation nominated for designation in 2002 and up to 14 January 2014 in respect of the 36 raised bog natural heritage areas);

- The turf resource on the site has not been exhausted; and

- No turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

The scheme is still open to applicants and new applications are received on an ongoing basis.

Under the scheme, annual payments are made to qualifying applicants, who apply in years later than the start date, for previous years as well as for the current year. In addition, it takes time for some applicants to demonstrate that they fulfil the qualifying criteria of the scheme and such applicants also receive annual payments for previous years of the scheme as well as for the current year.

My Department is prioritising the payment of annual payments under the scheme for 2019. The position in relation to payments for previous years will be reviewed subsequently.

Estimated Annual Payments for years prior to 2019 due under the scheme amount to €441,524 in respect of 60 qualifying applicants. A breakdown of this information by county[1] is set out in the following table.

County

Amount of annual payments for previous years

No. of qualifying applicants

Galway

€ 236,540

28

Galway/Mayo

€ 15,165

2

Galway/Roscommon

€ 13,689

2

Kerry

€ 10,623

1

Meath

€ 6,084

1

Offaly

€ 18,207

3

Roscommon

€ 18,207

4

Roscommon/Longford/Westmeath

€ 65,259

7

Tipperary

€ 15,210

5

Westmeath

€ 42,540

7

Total

€ 441,524

60

Subject to compliance, checking and verification, the intention is that these monies will be paid before year end.

[1] Some bogs span a number of counties.