A TD has claimed that retrofitting local authority houses will take at least a decade and as a result the proposed ban on the sale of turf is “premature”.

Independent deputy Sean Canney recently asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage for data on how many council properties use solid fuel as a heat source.

Minister Darragh O’Brien said that his department does not collate such information but added that it may be available from individual local authorities.

Turf sale ban

Galway TD Sean Canney said that it is a “farce” that Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan wants to ban the sale of turf when it is unclear exactly how many local authority houses currently rely on turf as a heat source.

“There is no data available, and the government are devising policies and schemes without any data for the implementation of these schemes,” the independent TD stated.

“It is my view that it will take at least ten years to retrofit the social housing stock and it is premature to ban the sale of turf,” Canney added.

“Many families in local authority houses are relying on turf to heat their homes, cook their food and provide hot water, until the alternative is in place there is no point in banning anything to do with turf,” the TD concluded.

Under the proposed ban, there will be an exemption for the gifting or sharing of turf between families or neighbours.

There will also be an allowance for people to continue to sell and distribute turf in rural areas with a population of under 500 people.

Since the government’s Energy Efficiency Retrofit Programme (EERP) began in 2013, over 75,000 local authority owned homes have been retrofitted at a cost of €184 million.

Minister O’Brien said that an updated programme provided funding for the installation of 604 heat pumps in 2021; funding for such pumps has been increased to €16,000 this year.

Around €85 million will be provided to upgrade around 2,400 social houses to a Building Energy Rating (BER) rating of ‘B2’ in 2022. Each local authority has been set a minimum target for the number of units to be completed.