Ireland: the government’s decision to end the use of peat disputed by farmers

Ireland: the government’s decision to end the use of peat disputed by farmers

Laura Taouchanov

The government has decided to put an end to the sale of peat, because of its very polluting side. Only private use will be permitted. But for the farmers interviewed by Europe who work on peat, this decision does not pass. Above all, they regret that the State does not offer alternative solutions.

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On Irish lands, it is a traditional means of heating. For years, peat has been exploited as fuel in many homes. But the carbon it releases when it burns has proven to be particularly polluting. The Irish government therefore wants to put an end to the sale and distribution of these famous black briquettes, but it comes up against strong opposition.

Only private use will be allowed

In this small village, we see the white smoke escaping from all the chimneys with this smell of soil specific to peat. “It’s a welcoming fire and it heats the whole house. The fourteen radiators only cost me 600 euros a year. That’s the beauty of peat”, explains Thomas Hailey, regional councilor for County Sligo.

In the fall, the peat can no longer be marketed. Only private use will be permitted. “We have no other way to heat our homes. So our government is ready to ask us to stop peat, but without giving us an alternative. We are supposed to freeze to death”, exclaims Thomas Hailey.

“We can’t afford to buy fuel”

In the marshes. It is enough to discuss with the few cutters to understand their attachment to these black ingots which they dry in piles. “My name is Niall Henry and I have been cutting peat all my life. We are adamant we will continue to cut it,” he says.

The problem is that peat emits more CO2 after coal, while producing less energy. But the moment is badly chosen, regrets Martin. “He pulls the rug out from under our feet. We can’t afford to buy fuel oil. Now everything is increased. It’s not the farmer who pollutes. It’s the planes in the sky”, launches he. For these pensioners, it’s yet another war between the elites of the city and the rural communities.

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