TCCA PRESS RELEASE
RE: Request for Written Submissions on Peatlands Strategy.
RE: Request for Written Submissions on Peatlands Strategy.
Since its inception the Turf Cutters & Contractors Association has endeavoured to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Government and NPWS to vindicate the Property, Traditional, Heritage, Cultural and Indigenous Rights of Domestic Turf Cutters while at the same time facilitating bog conservation.
To this end, the TCCA prepared a detailed 33 page submission for the previous Government’s July-2009 “Working Group on Cessation of Turf Cutting on Certain Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas” and we subsequently met with the Working Group. Our entire submission and the points we raised at the meeting were ignored because the Government had predetermined the outcome !
Subsequently we have made a presentation to the Dail Environment Committee, we have taken Ministers, T.D.s, Senators, Environmentalists and Academics on tours of our bogs, showing them the problems on the ground. Yet our concerns and our rights continue to be ignored and trampled upon !
In good faith we agreed to participate in this Government’s Peatlands Council, at which we outlined constructive proposals with the potential to resolve the current impasse on the SAC Designated Raised Bogs.
This process too has failed, because Ministers Deenihan & Hogan were not even prepared to ask the EU Commissioner for the flexibility needed to facilitate minor SAC boundary amendments in a small subset of these Designated Raised Bogs. This in spite of the fact that from the beginning of the Designation process, similar though far greater concessions were granted to Coillte, the ESB and in at least one case a County Council dump. There also exists a direct precedent in the downwards amendment of River Bank SAC boundaries.
In a democratic society, Domestic Turf Cutters have a right to participation in any decision making process which impacts upon their Property, Traditional, Heritage, Cultural and Indigenous Rights.
Past experience speaks to the fact that the major decisions with regards to the Peatlands Strategy have already been taken by the EU, Environmentalists, NPWS and Government. On the 19-Nov-2011, the Chairman of the Peatlands Council was able to tell a TCCA Member that Turf Cutting Contractors would have to be licensed to cut turf on NHA designated Bogs. This in itself raises four issues:-
(i) Domestic Turf Cutting is a centuries old Established Land Use. The TCCA will not submit to the EU and Government’s attempts to retrospectively impose Licensing, Environmental Impact Assessments & Planning Permission on people’s own Turf Banks. Citizens of the Irish Republic do not need a “License” or “Permission” to exercise their Ancient Rights on their own private property.
(ii) Why should a contractor hired to act on one’s own behalf, to cut one’s own turf, on one’s own turf bank, for one’s own use, be licensed any more than when that same contractor cuts your hay or silage ?
(iii) This confirms what the TCCA has always argued, … that it is the EU’s, Environmentalist’s & Government’s intention to proceed by degrees until ALL Domestic Turf Cutting is banned in Ireland ! To achieve their objective they use the twin pronged attack on the Irish People of the Habitat’s Directive and “Climate Change”.
(iv) If important decisions such as this have already been taken and are a “fait accompli”, what is the point of submissions or engaging in yet another meaningless consultation process ? True to form, Bog Owners and Domestic Turf Cutters are again to be excluded from the decision making process and all of the important issues have been predetermined.
The Terms of Reference of the newly trumpeted “National Peatlands Strategy” make it Crystal Clear that the real decisions will be taken by the Minister and a “Scientific Committee” appointed presumably by himself. The people most directly effected by the decisions of this Committee have not even been told who’ll serve on this committee, by what criteria committee members have been or will be selected or what the Scientific Committee’s Terms of Reference are ! Yet another “fait accompli” for Domestic Turf Cutters.
This latest request for submissions amounts to nothing more than an attempt to retrospectively lend a veneer of democratic legitimacy, to a process that to date can only be characterised as secretive, bureaucratic, oppressive, dictatorial and corrupt.
The TCCA will not lend its credibility to such an illegitimate and anti democratic process. Instead we call on the Government to start afresh.
The TCCA seeks the establishment of an Independent Commission of Inquiry, headed by an Irish High Court Judge to investigate the conduct and activities of the Government, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and its predecessor Duchas, pertaining to Ireland’s botched implementation of the Habitat’s Directive and conservation issues in general. The Inquiry should include though not be limited to such matters as:-
- A full accounting of the circa €750 Million provided by the EU over a period of approximately 15 years, for the implementation of the Directive.
- The withholding of information from rural stakeholders.
- The lack of funding for Indigenous People to retain expert advice and conduct the expert studies necessary to support appeals, engage in informed consultation or give informed consent.
- The complete lack of meaningful consultation with the stakeholders during the designation process.
- The scientific justification for the designation of each bog complex along with the scientific reasons (where appropriate) for excluding portions that were of interest to state agencies and the elite of Irish Society.
- The injustice of facilitating boundary amendments for some (river bank SACs), but not for Small Scale Domestic Turf Cutters on Raised & Blanket Bog.
- The existence and accuracy of the baseline maps required by the Habitat’s Directive.
- The setting of the Favourable Reference Ranges & Favourable Reference Areas for Active Raised Bog Habitat.
- The misconduct of NPWS Staff & its Agents with regards to trespass, bullying, threatening & intimidation of small scale domestic turf cutters.
- The death of an elderly gentleman from NE Galway while he believed himself to be under threat of Prosecution by the NPWS.
- Matters relating the conduct of a Ranger in the Sligo area with regard to the exercise of NPWS controlled shooting rights.
- The abject failure of the NPWS to manage and conserve the bog habitat that they already control.
- The adherence (or otherwise) of the NPWS to lawful Public Procurement policies & procedures and the control and oversight of contractual arrangements with its Agents, Contractors and Service Providers.
- A Value for Money Audit of the NPWS.
- The unilateral dishonouring & repudiation of agreements, freely entered into with Turf Cutters by the Government & NPWS.
The TCCA have arranged a series of information meetings on the future of Turf Cutting on the 55 designated SAC bog
complexes. Click here for the times, dates and venues for these meetings.
Further meetings will be arranged in relation to the 75 NHA bogs before the year is out.
Working Group Submission
A copy of the TCCA submission to the Interdepartmental Committee on the Cessation of Turf Cutting is available for everyone to download HereThe TCCA Store
Please take a look at the TCCA store Here and consider making a purchase. Ideal gifts for the Turf Cutter in your life and remember, christmas is never more than 12 months away!The TCCA forum
We have launched a new forum for discussion of all matters related to Turf Cutting in the Republic of Ireland. Click Here to sign up and start chatting with like minded individuals.