The illegal sale of turf on the internet, in local newspapers and in local shops will be punishable by fines from this winter.
The fines under the Air Pollution Act will come into force from Halloween onwards.
Donegal County Council will be responsible for enforcing the clampdown locally, with staff to be trained up and a fund of €250,000 to be available for “pilot enforcement projects”.
It comes as over 300 “turf for sale” adverts are currently on display on DoneDeal.ie.
Hundreds of other offers of turf for sale appear in local shops and online across Donegal.
A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Climate and Communication said people with turbary rights, and all other customary practices in respect of turf, “will be unaffected” by the new regulations.
“They will continue to be able to cut turf for their own use and will retain the ability to gift or sell turf.
“However, no sale of turf may take place by way of the internet or other media (i.e. advertising in local press), or from retail premises.”
Asked how the new laws will be monitored and what penalties will be applied, the spokesperson said: “Local authorities are, and will continue to be, responsible for the enforcement of solid fuel regulations in the State.
“The new enhanced regulations have been drafted to ensure that local authorities have sufficient powers to ensure effective compliance within their functional areas.
“The Programme for Government also includes a commitment to develop a regional approach to air quality enforcement.
“The Department and the Local Government Management Agency are working together on a full assessment of the current state of the sector and scoping out the resource requirements to ensure the most appropriate enforcement structure is put in place to support implementation of the regulations.
“In the interim a package of measures is being developed for the local authority sector to support enforcement in advance of October 31.
“This includes new guidance documents and training courses, communications materials, and funding of €250,000 to support pilot enforcement projects.
“Enforcement actions taken in relation to the Solid Fuel Regulations will be civil offences and incur penalties, as provided for by the Air Pollution Act 1987.”
Asked if homemade signs advertising turf will also be banned, the spokesperson continued: “The focus on compliance will not be on households or bogs but on the producer and the retail sector to ensure that solid fuels follow the standards specified, that unauthorised fuels are not being made available for sale and that producers placing product on the market are properly certified and appropriately registered with the EPA.
“By restricting the sale of turf via retail and online sales channels, the new regulations aim to reduce the sale and supply of turf into larger urban areas where turf-cutting does not actually take place, thereby reducing its overall use.”