An Offaly turf cutting contractor has been fined for cutting turf in a protected natural heritage area of raised bog.

Pat McEvoy (51) of Blackbull, Birr, Co Offaly, pleaded guilty to the offence at Nenagh District Court, Co Tipperary, on 9 February 2023 and was fined €1,000 by Judge Elizabeth McGrath.

The case involved turf being extracted from the Monaincha/Ballaghmore natural heritage area of raised bog without consent, contrary to Section 19 of the Wildlife Amendment Act 2000. The bog spans counties Laois and Tipperary.

During the court hearing, a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) divisional manager explained to the judge that the Monaincha/Ballaghmore site was designated as a natural heritage area in 2005 for its unique raised bog habitat.

He confirmed to the court that turf could only be cut in the natural heritage area with ministerial consent and no such consent had been issued.

Surveillance operation

The NPWS divisional manager described how during a surveillance operation with a colleague on 11 May 2020, he witnessed the illegal turf extraction at Monaincha/Ballaghmore.

He said the pair entered the bog at 7.30am and witnessed the extraction and spreading of peat within the protected site.

An NPWS divisional manager said he witnessed the illegal extraction of the turf. \ Philip Doyle

When the divisional manager saw the machines begin to leave the site, he approached the individuals involved in the operation.

Having identified himself as an authorised person under the Wildlife Acts, the NPWS officer requested a name and address from Mr McEvoy, which was initially refused.

Mr McEvoy subsequently gave his name and address to a member of An Garda Síochána when they arrived shortly afterwards.


Imposing her €1,000 fine, Judge Elizabeth McGrath said she did not accept the defence that Mr McEvoy was unaware that the bog site was protected.

She said that as a sod turf contractor with a number of years’ experience, it was up to him to know where the protected sites were.

On the case, Minister of State for heritage and electoral reform Malcom Noonan said: “In an era of a biodiversity crisis, this case is an example of the great work being undertaken by a renewed NPWS with other agencies to investigate and secure prosecutions for the protection of nature.

“We all have a role to play in the conservation of our most precious habitats and species and I would encourage the reporting of wildlife crimes to the relevant authorities.”

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