A new EU ban on traditional turf cutting in Irish bogs is to cost the state over $15million.
Bog owners in parts of Ireland will be banned from cutting turf from the end of this year under a new European Union directive.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan has announced details of a compensation package for the cutters who will no longer be allowed gather turf on raised bogs in the West and Midlands because of EU rules.
The government scheme will pay some 750 turf-cutters a total of $21,000 each over the next 15 years for the loss of their rights.
The deal has been heavily criticised by Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, a spokesman for the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association.
He has accused Fine Gael of reneging on its promise to discuss the issue and said the ban would be ignored by families who relied on turf to heat their homes.
“We were promised that Fine Gael would negotiate with us and we’re very disappointed because we were made a promise,” said Flanagan.
“We won’t be letting people go cold this year or next. It seems it’s not Irish people who run this country but Europe.
“The promise was there would be negotiations where everything would be on the table, where people who wanted compensation could take it or where people could be moved to another bog.
“But in about 16pc of cases we know this isn’t possible. South Sligo and into Galway is just one bog after another, there’s nowhere else to cut. People will have to be accommodated on the bog they are on.”
The Independent reports that turf cutting was stopped on 24 bogs last year and the ban was extended to another 31 this week with cutting at a further 75 bogs will cease by the end of 2013.
The EU had threatened to enforce a ban which is designed to protect bogs classed as Special Areas of Conservation.
Ireland had negotiated a 10-year derogation but that has now expired.