The amount of turf that's cut nowadays is minuscule, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.

This comes in the wake of the European Commission's decision to take Ireland to court over what it said was Ireland's failure to protect bogs from turf cutting.

It said Ireland failed to apply the habitat directive to protect sites designated for raised bog and blanket bog habitats from turf cutting.

However, between 2022 and 2023, turf cutting has reduced by 40% Minister McConalogue said, speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Thursday 14 March.

He added that the situation today in terms of the amount of turf being cut versus 10 years ago has changed significantly.

"I remember back to my own youth, like everybody else in Donegal, that was where we got our fuel. I spent manys a day in the hill footing turf and cutting turf. That is now only the situation in a small number of areas," he said.


The Minister said that his Department will review the papers from the European Commission, which have referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice and will continue the "massive work" under way in terms of restoring bogs.

"Right now in Ireland, we have the largest projects anywhere in Europe under way in terms of bog restoration, with 50,000ha of bogs being restored and work having commenced in 30 out of 53 raised bogs in SACs as well.

"Farmers have shown massive co-operation in relation to [restoring bogs] as well," he said.

According a spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Ireland has proactively engaged with the European Commission and stakeholders in relation to alleged breaches and stands ready to defend its position.


"The State has invested significantly since 2011 in the conservation and restoration of our peatlands. Additional progress has been achieved over the past two years in collaboration with stakeholders and turf cutters," it said.

Among the progress made includes the complete cessation of turf cutting on almost 80% of the raised bog SACs since 2011 and a reduction of almost 40% on 2022 turf cutting levels in 2023 on raised bogs.

A total of 2,928 applicants have been in receipt of the Cessation of Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme in national heritage areas (NHA) and SAC.

This progress also includes the ramped-up peatlands restoration programme on both the raised and blanket bog SAC network, which is under way, with hugely significant acreage under active restoration.

The Department of Housing said that it will carefully consider the details of the case once papers are received from the European Commission regarding its referral to the court.

In the meantime, the Department said it will continue to implement, prioritise and advance measures to conserve our protected peatlands in consultation with stakeholders.