Peat extraction to be exempted from planning permission
Last year we had alot of coverage in the Irish mainstream news about farmers and individuals being stopped from extracting peat -the reason is because most of our bogs which are wonderful habitats are almost completely destroyed. However we never heard or was it mentioned that there was no attempt to stop the industrial extraction of peat by large private companies yet this does infinitely more damage. It seems there is one law for the people and no law for business interests. If we are going to save our bogs we should at least make the laws applicable to ALL parties. Peat extraction to be exempted from planning permission Press Release - 23 November, 2015 Friends of the Irish Environment The industrial extraction of peat is to be removed from planning controls, according to statements by horticultural peat extraction companies Bulrush and Westland in the High Court on Friday.
Bulrush Horticulture is based in Northern Ireland and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Danish growing media manufacturer, Pindstrup Mosebrug A/S. Westlands Horticulture is registered in Northern Ireland.
The industrial peat extractors are challenging rulings by An Bord Pleanala, made in 2013 in response to applications by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), that their operations require planning permission.
The President of the High Court, The Hon. Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns, accepted that changes in the legislation were ‘imminent’ and granted an adjournment.
According to solicitors for the two companies in the Court on Friday, the changes in the legislation are expected in ‘late December or early January’.
A statement issued by FIE said that ‘These companies are engaged in extensive peat extraction in County Westmeath for horticultural use. Since FIE brought these illegal activities to the attention of the planning authorities and the EPA in 2009, no enforcement action has been taken and the unauthorised extraction has actually increased.’
FIE Director Tony Lowes said that ‘more than five years of work to enforce the planning laws is being met with an attempt to change the law retrospectively to allow ongoing environmental destruction - including the ongoing destruction of a Bronze Age bog road by Westlands at Mayne in County Westmeath.
FIE estimates there are ‘8 to 10 mini Bord na Mona’s’ operating entirely outside the law. They provided the Department with the results of a 2010 Satellite Survey, in part funded by the Department, that led to an investigation of 126 sites of over 30 hectares in 19 counties, many of which the Local Authorities reported as required planning permission. None of the operations were known to the Local Authorities or were listed on the required Extractive Industries Register, according to FIE.
From its discussions with the Department of the Environment, FIE understands the changes are planned in response to its petition to the EU Petitions Committee which presented a satellite survey of exposed peatlands in Ireland and the failure of Irish authorities to enforce laws regulating peat extraction.
‘Is this what the Minister for the Environment is taking to the Climate Change conference in Paris next week – the news that Ireland is removing peat extraction from planning controls just as Mary Robinson has called for major fossil fuel reserves to be left in the ground?’
Tony Lowes 087 2176316 / 027 74771
Petition: (includes photographs)
The Satellite survey information and documentation
Background survey article
This Press Release