Senator Alice Mary Higgins has called on the Government to “withdraw and urgently rethink” the controversial Wildlife Bill which is due to be debated in the Seanad today.
Senator Higgins, who also opposed intensified hedgecutting under the “Heritage Bill, stated today, “As we have again been reminded this week, we are facing a dual environmental crisis, on climate change and biodiversity loss and proceeding with this Bill will intensify both of these"
The Wildlife Bill would allow for the “de-designation” or removal of protection from a number of raised and blanket bogs which are currently acting as carbon sinks as well as supporting significant biodiversity. “De-designation” opens these bogs up for commercial turfcutting.
Senator Higgins noted, “The ‘de-designatation’ process as currently set out in the Bill disregards most scientific or ecological evidence and does not include any reference at all to climate change or the important role bogs play in carbon-storage”
In addition to calling on the Government to withdraw the Bill Senator Higgins will also be proposing an amendment, due to be voted on this afternoon, which would completely ban commercial exploitation of any bog “de-designated” under the Bill.
Senator Higgins continued "we need to set down a clear line between commercial cutting and turbary rights for household use. If the bog is destroyed now, by the machines of this generation, future generations will never get to exercise their turbary rights or indeed enjoy the natural beauty of the bog”
“There is also a wider issue of intergenerational climate justice. Peatlands cover only 16% of Ireland's ground but are estimated to store 53% of all soil carbon. As one of the countries with the worst records on climate action, Ireland absolutely cannot afford another step backwards”