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Machinery at work on 28 protected raised bogs confirmed to Europe by Ireland

category national | environment | press release author Saturday December 19, 2020 00:20author by foie - Friends of the Irish Environment Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 13th Dec 2020

State refuses release of 2020 images recording ongoing turf cutting on protected raised bogs

Machinery at work on 28 protected raised bogs confirmed to Europe by Ireland

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has refused to release images recording ongoing destruction of Ireland’s protected raised bogs during 2020.

The request came from the environmental charity Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] who first brought the activities to the attention of the authorities in 2009. The prohibition on cutting on 56 Special Areas of Conservation {SAC] protected raised bogs was due to take effect in 1998 but was not imposed until 2009.

By 2010, Ireland’s 4th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity recorded: ‘The habitat has been heavily exploited. It is estimated that there has been a 99% loss of the original area of actively growing raised bog, and one-third of the remaining 1% has been lost in the last 10 years.’

Continued cutting led to the charging of four men in 2013 with cutting turf on three protected bogs in the Woodford and Portumna areas of County Galway in 2012.

After 14 appearances and delays, on February 18, 2020 Judge Rory McCabe directed the jury to return a verdict of “not guilty by direction of the trial judge” because the State had conceded it could offer no evidence because ‘a prosecution witness was in Australia’.

When the case collapsed, Michael Darcy of Ballinasloe, one of the four charged, told the media that it was ‘a great day for rural Ireland because now we’ve been vindicated and we can cut turf in our own bogs’.

In a Report submitted under the Habitats Directive to the European Union last year, the National Parks and Wildlife Service recorded that ‘Turf-cutting: slight decreasing trend within the current network of SACs (62) and retained NHAs (36), but still active at many sites: 22 SACs and 6 NHAs. Turf-cutting taking place at many of the proposed new SACs and NHAs’.

The reason for Daragh O’Brien, Minister Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s National Parks and Wildlife Service for refusing the request was ‘the protection of the environment to which that information relates.’ According to FIE’s submission, the Government Guidelines on the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations advise that this section of the act is to protect the location of rare flora from collectors.

‘This is the exact opposite of the situation in this case, where revealing the activities would protect the environment and concealing it will damage the environment.’, FIE Director Tony Lowes wrote in a rebuttal of the decision.

‘It is hard not to reach the conclusion that Minister O’Brien is protecting those who refuse to obey the law and so is complicit in the ongoing destruction of our environment’, Mr. Lowes said.

ENDS

Further information: Tony Lowes 353 (0)27 74771 / 353 (0)87 2176316

Link the submission to the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Strategy and Operations Section, rebutting the refusal to release the information:
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/Access/November_SACs_cutting_121220.pdf

This Press Release:
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17918-state-refuses-release-of-2020-images-recording-ongoing-turf-cutting-on-protected-raised-bogs
Copyright © 2020 Friends of the Irish Environment, All rights reserved.
Press Release

Our mailing address is:
Friends of the Irish Environment
Kilcatherine
Eyeries, Cork P75 CX53
Ireland

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17918-state-refuses-release-of-2020-images-recording-ongoing-turf-cutting-on-protected-raised-bogs
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