A SOUTH Mayo county councillor has called on the executive of Mayo County Council to write to Minister Eamon Ryan and the Taoiseach and Tanáiste to outline the council’s opposition to any plans to ban the burning of turf or wood.
Robeen-based councillor Pasty O’Brien raised the subject at a meeting of Mayo County Council where he put forward a notice of motion calling on council members to oppose the banning of the burning of turf or wood.
In February, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan, TD, announced that a national ban on the sale and burning of smoky coal are among proposed new regulations on the solid fuel use for domestic house heating. The sale of other solid fuels like unseasoned wood or wet wood could also be banned while ‘regulatory controls’ on the use of turf are under consideration.
Cllr Patsy O’Brien’s said any proposals to ban the burning of turf or wood was not in the programme for government and it was incumbent on rural councils to oppose it.
“This is not part of the programme for government but like anything else when you get an inch you want a yard. It is time we the local authorities let Minister Ryan and the government know we are not in favour of the banning of these particular fuels.
“We are a rural county and we depend on turf and timber and there would be many of us cold if we had to depend on anything else. It is a natural resource we have in a rural area. That is the reality of it and there is a dependancy on those fuels,” he said.
Cllr O’Brien added that pensioners have been penalised in the past by not being able to avail of fuel allowance due to them having a bog and it was not right for turf to be banned without financial supports in place.
His motion was broadly supported by the other members of the council. Cllr Jarlath Munnelly said the proposal by the government was to ban smoky coal in towns the size of Ballina and Castlebar and there was still no proposal to ban the use of turf for domestic use.
“Banning turf in domestic fires is not on table and I would not support it. Whatever happens in the future but a domestic person will continue to burn turf,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Brendan Mulroy also supported the motion but felt it was too late as new houses will not have a chimney to burn solid fuel.
“We are giving people false hope because new houses have moved on from solid fuel. The race is run on this,” he said.
Cllr Damien Ryan added that until the large industrial countries begin to tackle climate change the banning of turf burning will make no difference.
“People will buy into adjustments and amendments but banning timber and turf is going too far for a rural county like Mayo. We are going too far with these rules and regulations and red tape,” he said.