A turf-cutting contractor has been fined for illegal extraction in a case brought before court.
The case, which came before Nenagh District Court, Co. Tipperary on February 9th, 2023, 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.
51-year-old Pat McEvoy of Blackbull, Birr, Co. Offaly pleaded guilty to the offence.
During the court hearing, a National Parks and Wildlife Service Divisional Manager 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 May 11th, 2020, he was on a surveillance operation at Monaincha / Ballaghmore Bog NHA with a colleague.
The divisional manager entered the bog at 7.30 am, 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”, the court heard.
McEvoy, the court was told, subsequently gave his name and address to a member of An Garda Síochána when they arrived shortly afterwards.
Judge Elizabeth McGrath imposed a fine to the tune of €1,000 and in doing so, conveyed that 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”.
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