There will be an increase in smuggling following the introduction of the controversial turf ban, a TD has predicted.
Yesterday, the much debated ban on the sale of turf, wet wood and smoky coal came into effect; the Government says it is needed to improve air quality in rural Ireland, while opponents say it is wrong to ban an affordable source of heating in an energy crisis.
People can still cut their own turf and gift it to their neighbours. However, Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice says that the ban will cause people to head north where turf is still legal to buy and sell.
“Plenty of it will come across the border,” he predicted to Newstalk.
“They’ve done it before; we all heard about the diesel that came across and this will be no different.
“There’s plenty of fuels will come across the border and Minister [Eamon] Ryan will actually, probably, do more harm than good.”
Yesterday, Michael Healy Rae told Newstalk Breakfast that he was worried people could be prosecuted for burning turf under the Air Pollution Act.
“Under the Air Pollution Act, a person can be fined €12,700 and yes, they can face imprisonment so the story is factual,” he said.
“Older vulnerable people, who might have gone to their local shop to buy turf or buy it through whatever means they want. They are now facing a situation where this is now illegal.”
However, Minister Jack Chambers said the act did not cover turf.
“Turbary [turf cutting] rights and all other customary practices in respect of turf are unaffected by these regulations,” he said.
“People can continue to cut turf for their own use. What is affected is the sale of turf, for example in retail premises.
“I know, in the inside of that article, the Air Pollution Act is referenced, but that goes back to the late 1980s for example, which has always been the case around the monitoring of air pollution in particular areas.
“But turbary rights are protected. It is important to give certainty to people. That was announced earlier on.”
Main image: Pile of cut turf peat drying in the sun. Picture by: Alamy.com