Sun, 10 Dec 2023

DUBLIN, Ireland: The European Commission has given Ireland two months to respond to another 'reasoned opinion' on the cutting of peat, sent to the government on September 30.

The Commission has also threatened that it would "take the necessary measures" to end the cutting of bogs, including filing suit against Ireland in the European Court of Justice.

The Commission has called upon Ireland to halt the "continued cutting of peat within Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)," as the areas were created to conserve raised bogs and blanket bogs under the Habitats Directive.

In Ireland, peat has been used for centuries to warm homes. As Ireland has little coal, oil or gas, peat-made up of partially decayed moss and other plant matter-was also used in the past as fuel to power factories.

Meanwhile, the European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 seeks to end the loss of biodiversity, while protecting and restoring biodiversity, the Commission said, noting that peat bogs are vital carbon sinks, when healthy.

"Their protection and restoration assists Ireland in meeting its climate change goals, not only in keeping the peat in the ground, but also by avoiding the very high carbon and other air pollution emissions which are caused when peat is burnt as a fuel," it said.

"The Irish authorities have taken action to stop cutting, including by compensating peat and turf cutters. However, cutting activities are still ongoing and enforcement action appears to have stalled. Restoration activities have begun on some raised bogs SACs, but this is too slow, given the importance of this priority habitat and its precarious state," the statement continued.

The European Commission further said that Ireland does not appear to be preventing the cutting of bogs, and there appears to be no agency controlling the ongoing cuttings.

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