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Legislation creates 'limbo period' for peat extraction to continue uncontrolled

category national | environment | press release author Wednesday July 17, 2019 21:22author by foie - Friends of the Irish Environment

HIGH COURT HEARS CHALLENGE TO PEAT REGULATIONS IN CORK

A challenge to the Government’s new regulations exempting industrial peat extraction from planning controls was heard in the High Court at a sitting yesterday in Cork. Scheduled for two days, Justice Garret Simons concluded proceeding in less than a day and reserved judgment for a week until Tuesday 23 July.

PRESS RELEASE - FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
TUESDAY 16 JULY, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A challenge to the Government’s new regulations exempting industrial peat extraction from planning controls was heard in the High Court at a sitting yesterday in Cork. Scheduled for two days, Justice Garret Simons concluded proceeding in less than a day and reserved judgment for a week until Tuesday 23 July.

Statutory Instruments signed into law in January 2019 by Ministers Richard Bruton and Eoghan Murphy removed the requirement for planning permission for commercial scale peat extraction on bogs of 30 hectares or more, creating a new requirement to obtain a licence from the EPA. The new laws have also eliminated the previous rights under the Planning Acts for members of the public to initiate enforcement action against large scale unauthorised commercial peat extraction operations.

Applying for a stay on the application of the new regulations pending a full hearing of the matter, James Devlin SC, for the environmental charity Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE], argued that the new legislation creates a significant time gap within which existing unauthorised operators will be allowed to continue extracting peat in the absence of any proper environmental assessment of their activities, explaining to the Court that the new rules created a ‘limbo period’ that could extend to 4 or 5 years when rights of appeal are taken into account.

The new laws were introduced in the aftermath of a decision of the High Court in 2018 that peat extraction on bogs in Co. Westmeath operated by leading peat producers, Westland Horticulture Limited and Bulrush Horticulture Limited required planning permission and environmental assessments.

Tony Lowes, director of FIE welcomed the Court’s resolve to deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible.

“Some operators have been extracting peat for decades without compliance with EU environmental rules”, he said. “There is a real public health risk of cancer-causing chemicals in drinking water from sites where there is uncontrolled runoff of peat solids to drinking water sources, not to mention the climate change effects and the damage to habitats. The new regulations seek to set aside important protections that Irish citizens and the environment have under EU law. Hopefully the High Court will provide much needed clarity on the issue of the State’s obligation to apply EU law to peat extraction.”

FIE is represented by O’Connell Clarke, Solicitors, and barristers James Devlin SC, Oisin Collins BL, and Margaret Heavey BL.

SAVE OUR BOGS VIDEO [3 minutes]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUX6d90Y2ag

COMMENT
Friends of the Irish Environment: Tony Lowes 353 (0)27 74771 / 353 (0)87 2176316
Daithí Ó hÉalaithe (Irish language) +353 (0)87 6178852

This Press Release:
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17676-high-court-hears-challenge-to-peat-regulations-in-cork

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17676-high-court-hears-challenge-to-peat-regulations-in-cork

Caption: Save Our Bogs



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