A ban on the sale of turf will cause fuel poverty for the people who rely on turf to heat their homes, Irish Rural Link CEO Seamus Boland told the Irish Farmers Journal at the Irish Rural Link conference on Friday.

Boland maintained that the Government's concentration should be on installing alternative heating systems into homes rather than stopping the burning of turf.

He added that just 5% of people in Ireland burn turf to heat their homes.

"The announcement that Minister Ryan made to ban the sales of turf will cause fuel poverty and we must correct that first.

"That means we have to get a different heating system into the houses of farmers and people in rural areas," he said.


Boland added that turf is in decline as a fuel and that it will continue to decline.

Irish Rural Link, as a group, agrees that fossil fuels of all kinds contribute to climate change, he said, adding that the younger members of the group would say the burning of turf should be stopped.

However, he argued again that this should not happen before domestic homes are properly fitted with a different system.

"We have been consistent in our approach and have talked to Minister Ryan last week. We've always said that the turf cutting issue has to be separated from fuel," he said.


The focus must be on retrofit, according to Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys, who spoke to the Irish Farmers Journal on Friday at the conference.

She said that there are new ways to heat houses now and gave the example of air to heat pumps.

"The focus must be on retrofit - we have to do more to reduce the cost of heating our homes," she said.

She also said that she was in Co Offaly recently where she saw two men cutting turf in the distance.

She said that people from the area told her it was a "dying trade" and "nobody wants blisters on their hands from cutting turf".