Galway Roscommon TD Denis Naughten has said there is an urgent need for a rehabilitation plan for used up cut away bogs.
Deputy Naughten said that the rehabilitation of cut away bogs which were previously used for peat extraction is necessary to minimise flooding risk and promote recreational development.
“In total Bord na Mona has a land holding of just under 200,000 acres across the country and while some of it can be considered for new commercial uses, such as the growing of herbs, other lands will naturally return to nature,” stated Denis Naughten.
“As a result, there is a considerable land bank where peat extraction has already ceased, which would naturally flood, and where work on rehabilitation can start, including the provision of recreational facilities such as walking and cycling trails.”
The Independent TD pointed to the cut away bogs outside the town of Ballinasloe which it is envisaged will form part of the Dublin/Galway Greenway as bogland that should be opened to public access.
The decision has already been taken through Project Ireland 2040 to develop a 35,000 acre national wetland park on the Mount Dillon bogs in Counties Roscommon & Longford.
While according to Deputy Naughten public access alone is already attracting over 50,000 visitors a year to Mount Lucas, Co. Offaly.
He said that it was originally intended to carry out rehabilitation works on the bogs over a 15 year period to coincide with the winding down of peat harvesting.
“But with the decision by Bord na Mona to lay off staff as a result of the temporary closure of the power station in Lanesboro, and fears regarding the future of the power station in Shannonbridge after 2020, these plans must now be put into action immediately,” stated Denis Naughten.
“This revised timeline, and front loading of work that was to be carried out over that 15 year period, would provide security of employment of Bord na Mona staff at this very anxious time as well reducing peat oxidation and carbon loss on the bogs.”
“It would also help to provide a window of opportunity to Bord na Mona and all of the State agencies to come forward with a revised economic development plan for the Midland counties which reflects the imminent threat to employment in the region.”