Turf cutting contractor fined for illegal extraction

Date Released: Monday, February 13, 2023

A turf cutting contractor has been fined for cutting turf in a protected Natural Heritage Area Raised Bog, in a case brought before Nenagh District Court, Co. Tipperary on February 9th, 2023.

The case involved turf being extracted from Monaincha / Ballaghmore Natural Heritage Area raised bog without consent, contrary to Section 19 of the Wildlife Amendment Act 2000. The bog spans counties Laois and Tipperary. 

Mr. Pat McEvoy (51), of Blackbull, Birr, Co. Offaly pleaded guilty to the offence and Judge Elizabeth McGrath imposed a fine of €1,000.

A National Parks and Wildlife Service Divisional Manager outlined the evidence to the court. He explained to the judge that the site was designated as a Natural Heritage Area in 2005 for its unique raised bog habitat.  He confirmed to the court that turf could only be cut in the Natural Heritage Area with Ministerial consent and no such consent had been issued.

The NPWS Divisional Manager stated that on the 11th May 2020 he was on a surveillance operation at Monaincha / Ballaghmore Bog NHA with a colleague. The Divisional Manager entered the bog at 7.30am witnessed the extraction and spreading of peat within the protected site.

When the Divisional Manager saw the machines begin to leave the site he approached the individuals involved in the operation. Having identified himself as an authorised person under the Wildlife Acts, the NPWS Officer requested a name and address from Mr. McEvoy which was initially refused. Mr. McEvoy subsequently gave his name and address to a member of An Garda Síochána when they arrived shortly afterwards.

Judge Elizabeth McGrath imposed a €1,000 fine said she did not accept the defence that Mr. McEvoy was unaware that the site was protected. She said that as a sod turf contractor with a number of years’ experience it was up to him to know where the protected sites were.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcom Noonan TD, said:

“In an era of a biodiversity crisis, this case is an example of the great work being undertaken by a renewed NPWS with other agencies to investigate and secure prosecutions for the protection of nature. We all have a role to play in the conservation of our most precious habitats and species and I would encourage the reporting of wildlife crimes to the relevant authorities.” 

Spread Turf at the Scene