The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced that the drafting of legislation has been approved as a matter of priority for the de-designation of 39 raised bog Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) and the part de-designation of 7 raised bog NHAs.
There are currently 75 raised bogs with legal protection, covering roughly 23,000 hectares and are mainly located in the midlands. A further 73 blanket bogs, mostly located in western areas are also designated as National Heritage Areas.
The Minister will now submit the General Scheme of the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht for pre-legislative scrutiny. The publication of the legislation is identified as a 100 Day Action in the Programme for a Partnership Government.
Minister Humphreys said: “This legislation is an important step forward in terms of securing a long term resolution for turf cutters. The legislation will implement the recommendations of the Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Area Network, which was approved by Government in 2014.”
“It concluded that Ireland could more effectively conserve threatened raised bog habitats through focused protection and restoration of a reconfigured network”, she added.
“I have now put forward a proposed Bill to de-designate 39 Natural Heritage Areas and part de-designate 7 Natural Heritage Areas, in line with the Programme for a Partnership Government. It is my hope that de-designating these bogs will help with the relocation process, which is an important piece of the overall resolution for turf cutters,” she said.
Published in January 2014, the Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Area Network concluded that Ireland could more effectively achieve conservation of threatened raised bog habitat through focused protection and restoration of a reconfigured network.
This will entail the phasing out of turf-cutting on certain natural heritage areas by 1 January 2017 and the partial or complete de-designation of certain natural heritage areas.