Proposals to ban “burning turf and timber in every fireplace in the country” have been slated by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), which has described them as an example of “jet-setting” urban elites trying to pin the blame of climate change on rural dwellers.

ICSA rural development chairman Timmy Farrell described the proposals, arising from reports that the Government intends to open a public consultation on a nationwide ban on the burning of all smoky fuels – including: turf; peat; wood; and coal – as “totally insane”.

‘Totally insane’

“Many people in rural areas are dependent on lighting a fire to keep warm or need the solid fuel cooker for both cooking and powering the other heaters.

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“Burning timber to create warmth in family homes across the country is a real example of exemplary recycling in many cases.

Trees blow down or have to be trimmed. Most of this fuel requires little or no transport, compared to importing oil from the Middle East.

“If you do not allow wood burning, you are undermining the case for forestry because that is the main outlet for first thinnings.”

Continuing, the chairman added that, given that the Government has targets to increase forestry, it would be “totally incoherent to undermine the sector by eliminating the first source of benefit to those who plant”.

‘Jet-setting lifestyles’

“This is another example of urban elites trying to put all the blame for climate change on the ordinary people of rural Ireland while they continue jet-setting lifestyles.

A new runway is being constructed in Dublin Airport as passenger numbers have increased some 60% since 2011 to 30 million.

“Yet the Government is thinking about leaving the poor people of rural Ireland to perish with the cold and prevent them from lighting a fire on nights like we are having at the moment,” Farrell concluded.