NEW regulations to protect traditional turf cutting practices and allow those who cut, share and sell turf to continue to do so, have been described by Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey as a reasonable solution to a problem that has major implications for rural communities.

“I fully recognise the effect of poor air quality on people’s health and wellbeing and I welcome the role these regulations will play in helping to improve air quality and public health. However, we must make sure we are not stopping customs that date back centuries, when people do not have other alternatives,” Deputy Carey explained.

“The revised regulations allow those with turbary rights and all ‘customary rights’ to cut, burn, share and sell turf, as long as it’s not sold in a retail setting, public place, through media or online. There is no ban on burning turf by anyone in the country. 

“The suggested restriction on use only in towns or villages of population of 500 has also been removed. 

“I’m glad we could come to this agreement with our Government partners. We’re confident this solution will protect and extend the current smoky coal ban, while allowing for traditional practices to continue.

“The Government has also put a range of policies and measures in place to support households that are at risk of energy poverty. These measures supplement lower income households through the Fuel Allowance, the Household Benefits Package and other payments, as well as providing free energy efficiency upgrades through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland schemes and the Social Housing retrofitting programme. 

“This year, 58 per cent, or €203 million, of the total Government retrofit budget of €352 million will be spent on dedicated energy poverty retrofit supports and local authority retrofits”,  Deputy Carey added.