Minister Pippa Hackett called out those who knowingly extract turf from bogs in Special Areas of Conservation.
She also asked those who cut turf because of a perceived ‘identity’, or because they want to show ‘the wildlife crowd’ that they won’t have any impact on their ‘tradition’, to reconsider their actions.
In a speech in the Seanad, she told these people that “it is not true to say that because you ‘love’ the bog, you are doing no harm.
“These bogs have taken thousands of years to form, yet just 1% of Ireland’s active raised bogs now remain, after years of land reclamation and peat harvesting.
“A person’s identity should never be so entangled with a tradition that they can justify harming our landscape in the name of that tradition.”
She asked ‘those who think calling for improvements in air quality, or habitat preservation, is some form of an attack on them, to think deeply about alternatives’.
Minister Hackett said: “And think about the damage that is being done. We are depleting one of our largest carbon stores, and the habitat of some of Ireland’s most important species.
“These bogs have taken thousands of years to form, yet just 1% of Ireland’s active raised bogs now remain, after years of land reclamation and peat harvesting.”
The Minister has previously said she is in favour of a balanced approach to turf burning saying she has advocated on behalf of those in the Midlands that rural homes and smaller towns be excluded from the proposed ban, and for small scale sale of turf between neighbours and family to be permitted.
Minister Hackett said: “Yes, turf burning will continue for many people, but it is reducing every year as more people move with the times, and find alternative ways to heat their homes. Our days “on the bog” are numbered.
“And I hope that when future generations visit bogs of the Midlands – like Clara and Abbeyleix – they will be thankful for the preservation of these wonderful natural resources.
“Resources that many of us stood to protect, when we had the chance.”