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Sam Boal
turf wars

Govt won't oppose fresh Dáil motion challenging turf sale restrictions

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice’s motion calls on the Dáil to recognise that turf is a fuel many people are dependent on.

LAST UPDATE | 4 May 2022

GOVERNMENT WILL NOT oppose a fresh motion challenging proposed regulations on the sale and supply of turf. 

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice’s motion calls on the Dáil to recognise that turf is an affordable solid fuel, that many people are dependent on to warm their homes. 

It comes as a Sinn Féin motion calling for the scrapping of proposed restrictrictions on the sale of turf, due to be signed in September, was voted down by Government by 72 votes to 63.

Unlike the Sinn Féin motion last week, Fitzmaurice’s motion solely deals with the issue of turf and does not include other issues such as the scrapping of the carbon tax. 

At the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting this evening, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that there can be no surprises on the future sale and distribution of turf and that no regulations can be signed off without government’s approval. 

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan got approval from Cabinet yesterday not to oppose the private members motion which will be taken in the Dáíl on Thursday.

The motion asks the Dáil to acknowledge a set of observations on the draft regulations,  which a spokesperson for the minister said “have yet to be settled”.

“While the Minister agrees with the majority of the motion, he will outline some difficulties with aspects of it in the Dáil on Thursday,” they said. 

Fitzmaurice’s motion calls on the Government to confirm that the regulations, even if signed in September, will not be implemented this year.

Trouble has been brewing in recent weeks between the Green Party and the other two Government parties. 

Backbenchers in both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have spoken out publicly and privately on the proposed measures, with TDs stating that the issue is putting the stability of the Government in jeopardy

While the Taoiseach has set out that even if regulations are signed this year, they will not impact the sale and distribution of turf this winter.

Ryan has said he confident the Government will get new turf legislation will be introduced later this year.

The motion before TDs this week calls for exemptions to the proposed solid fuel regulations. 

It states that exemptions should apply to people who have turbary rights, people who assisted the State by providing their bogs for preservation as part of the designation of boglands, as well as people who have historically rented or have been provided with a plot and saved turf for their own household. 

The motion also urges Government to “work with the industry” to ensure turf sold via retail outlets meets the same moisture content regulations that currently apply to timber and peat briquettes.

Final proposals have not yet been published but the minister has said there would not be an outright ban on the burning of turf or the sharing of turf with family members or neighbours. 

He has said the objective of the regulations is to control the commercial sale of turf. 

The government had hoped to have the new regulations in place by September of this year but the timeline has been thrown into doubt by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.  

The Sinn Féin motion seeking to scrap the plans as well as halting next week’s scheduled increase in Carbon Tax was defeated.  

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