Irish ban on turf sales renews peatlands debate


A ban on turf sales in the Republic of Ireland has raised questions about its future in Northern Ireland.

In October, the government in Dublin introduced a ban on the sale of turf used as fuel.

Friends of the Earth warned this could result in more illegal cutting north of the border.


Sinn Féin, which opposed the ban, has called for better alignment of turf-selling laws on both sides of the border.

Peatlands are a major feature of the Irish landscape, both north and south, and perform a valuable environmental role as a carbon sink.

The turf-cutting debate springs from maintaining a balance between preserving the environmental value of peatland versus its traditional use as a domestic fuel.


Peatlands cover approximately 12 percent of the land area of Northern Ireland, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera), and they took thousands of years to form.

Last year, Daerah conducted a public consultation for its Peatlands Strategy 2021-40.

The strategy aims to restore Northern Ireland’s peatlands, which are mostly in a damaged or degraded state.

The publication of the strategy will require approval from the Northern Ireland Executive.

An executive has not been in place at Stormont since February when the Democratic Unionist Party withdrew from the first minister’s position as part of its ongoing protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

A spokesperson for Daera said the department would “continue to support ongoing peatland restoration projects in Northern Ireland, which may complement the Peatland Strategy Implementation Plan when it has received executive approval”.—BBC

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