Sunday, 13 December 2009

Tairsgeir tax on peatcutting on the way?

I knew things were bad in Ireland - but a tax on cutting peats?

Buried in the Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's Budget speech last week was a whopping £15 per tonne carbon tax on domestic fuel oil, coal and, wait for it, peat.

That is a message that will send shivers through the aching spine of anyone on Lewis still devoted to the ancient craft of peat cutting.
Anyone who has been bent double in a poll-moine throwing wet peats for three hours at a time in the face of a south westerly sleet storm probably reckons that they ought to be paid to cut the damn things, not the other way around.

I reckon £15 a tonne is about a trailer load of moine dubh, the hard black peat prefered for the rayburn, or two trailer loads and three sacks of fadan bhan, the more fibrous peat suitable for the living room fireplace.
I know Alistair Darling, a Lewis boy, would never dare tax the tairsgeir but that George Osborne and his his oil-fired Aga, (which you paid the £1500 fuel bill for last year incidentally), I wouldn't put it past him.


  1. The Tushkar Tax, as it will doubtless be called in The Greater Zetlandics...

  2. Interesting Torcuil that Darling does indeed have the conventional "Poll Monadh" (peat bank) look about him, fad ban on top (white hair) and moine dhubh below (black eyebrows)..

    Iain Mackenzie

  3. I posted this on the An Incredulous Eye on the Isles a couple of Aprils ago I hope I am not going to be held responsible for this new tax!!

    Angus, I'm surprised that you have not mentioned the new revenue raising initiative which is the Licensing and Taxing of Peat cutting. I found this press release in a waste paper basket in the Vice Convenors office.
    The Comhairle in view of the imminent refusal of the Lewis Wind Power wind farm application has agreed that a radical new approach needs to be taken with regard to the use of moorlands within the Comhairle’s jurisdiction this is to be known as Plan Z. The Comhairle in a landmark change of policy now agrees with the EU views on the environmental designations on the Barvas and other moorland areas of the Islands. As a result of this change of policy the Comhairle will now be seeking ways of preserving the moorland areas. Its first initiative will be to introduce the Licensing and Taxing of Peat Cutting wherever it takes place on the Islands. New Licensing and Tax Collection Officers will be employed by the Comhairle. A new Comhairle Department will be established with two Departments. The Licensing Department will deal with all matter appertaining to the identifying who has the right to cut peats and where they cut them. Having established each peat cutters areas they will then issue Licenses to individuals to cut peats . The cost of the License will be dependent on not only the Square Yardage but also the depth of the Peat. The Other new Department will deal solely with raising Tax revenue from the cut peats. All Peats when cut and dried will have to be taken to the weighbridge in Stornoway. Here they will be weighed and a tax levied, the first 500 kilo’s are taxed at 10p per kilo and after that 25p per kilo. For the future it is proposed to limit the amount of peat that each Licensed Peat Cutter can take in any year to 500 Kilo’s.
    The penalties for not complying with the new regulations will be severe. They will include, but only as a last resort, the ability of the Peat Licensing Enforcement Officer to forcible remove offenders from the islands, and if they are English to have them forcibly repatriated to England.

    Editor’s please not that no one will be available to comment on this press release as many of the Councillors are still in a state of shock that they been able to change their minds so radically.