EU Policy. Ireland defends its handling of peat bogs

Mark Gunn / Flickr
Mark Gunn / Flickr Copyright Mark Gunn / Flickr
By Marta Pacheco
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Dublin talks of progressive improvement in habitat quality on raised bog in special areas of conservation despite the recent EU executive lawsuit.


Dublin today (14 March) said it was ready to defend its position on peat bogs in reaction to a referral from the European Commission to the EU Court of Justice on Wednesday (March 13).

The EU executive has sued Ireland for failure to comply with the Habitats Directive, on grounds that machine turf cutting of peat bogs fails to protect the swamps which act as ‘carbon sinks’.

The Irish state has invested significantly in peat bogs since 2011, after the EU executive issued a formal notice to the country calling for action in the conservation and restoration of peatlands, an Irish government spokesperson told Euronews, adding that “additional progress has been achieved” over the past two years on turf cutting.

“There has been a complete cessation of turf-cutting on almost 80% of the raised bog special areas of conservation since 2011 and a reduction of almost 40% on 2022 turf cutting levels in 2023 on raised bogs,” the spokesperson said.

Further reductions are expected this year as a result of ongoing discussions with turf cutting contractors and their representatives, the spokesperson added, noting this is “a site by site and season by season endeavour” which is “bearing fruits”.

Other ongoing commitments by Ireland include ramping up peatlands’ restoration programmes with “hugely significant acreage under active restoration” and the roll out of agriculture funds to 20,000 farmers active on special nature sites, the spokesperson said.

In reaction to the commission lawsuit, the spokesperson said the Agriculture Department will “carefully consider the details of the case” once papers are received from the commission. In the meantime, the Irish authorities will “continue to implement, prioritise, and advance” measures to conserve protected peatlands “in consultation with stakeholders”.

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