Fitzmaurice slams committee’s ‘cuckoo cloud’ bog proposal

Michael Fitzmaurice, independent TD for Galway-Roscommon, has said he believes “it would be unwise” of the Government to “go after ordinary people” around rural parts of Ireland in a bid to “rewet boglands”.

The comments were made in response to a draft proposal – prepared by the Joint Committee on Climate Action and seen by AgriLand – which recommends that a total of 270,000ha of Irish peatland should be “rewetted” by 2040, in order to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

It is recommended that an initial 130,000ha of this bogland should be “rewetted” over the next decade.

Speaking on the latest episode of FarmLand, Fitzmaurice said: “If the state wants to do something with their own lands, that’s fine.

“I think people are living in a little cuckoo cloud in that committee for the simple reason of private ownership. The state learned a fair bit from the first battle they got into 10 or 12 years ago with us on turf cutting.

With cooperation and agreement of individuals where they have done rewetting, no one has a problem.

“The figures being kicked out there are basically living in a fantasy world.

“Do they realise the cost first of all? I know what it costs to rewet because I know what the contractors have to get to do that work.”

Concluding, Fitzmaurice said: “If they think they are going to infringe on private property, let them come looking for it and they’ll get a fair answer back.”

White Paper

According to the white paper – expected to be put forward under the National Climate Action Plan (NCAP) – it is considered “feasible” to “restore” a target of 130,000ha (50% of natural peatlands) over the next 12 years – despite challenges “where turbury rights for turf cutting are still an issue”.

This is one of seven recommendations outlined in the draft report under the chapter on Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use.

It states that emissions from soils due to agriculture, forestry, peatland drainage and extraction are “a major element in Irish emissions”.

Conversely, it also adds that the restoration of soils to carbon sequestering status can both “prevent these emissions and [more slowly] start to re-absorb carbon”.

The report states that: “To address the urgent need for peatland restoration, rehabilitation and rewetting, the committee recommends that the Government finances and assigns responsibility for a national programme of rewetting and restoration commencing in 2019 to reduce emissions.”