Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is of the belief that the Government’s political capital should be spent on issues that are going to make a real difference in terms of overall fossil fuel usage and not on a war over turf.

The tradition of cutting turf and the importance it has as fuel in many parts of the country has to be respected, he told the Irish Farmers Journal this week.

“There’s a reality here that it’s declining year by year and that is something that is going to continue to happen, but I think we have to be very respectful in relation to how important it is to those who continue to use it, but also be considered in relation to its place in the efforts we’re making to actually move to cleaner fuel away from fossil fuel.

“It’s a very small part now of the overall fossil fuel usage. We really want to make a lot of change.

“It’s important we focus our political capital on pieces that are going to make a real difference, such as the move away from smoky coal,” he said.

Common sense

“I think, in terms of engagement across the three Government parties it’s important that we work together to have a balanced approach, bring common sense to the equation, respect the importance of turf in many parts of the country, but really focus our energies on making real impact and real change in relation to air quality and the move away from fossil fuels by focusing on where the real gains are such as smoky coal.”