Peat Power

AT 11.30am yesterday sixty odd Climate Campers of all ages strolled 2km from the camp beside the Shannonbridge Peat Burning Power Plant towards one of the Bord na Móna man-made brown deserts outside of the town. Equipped with some sacks, shovels, pillow cases, wheelbarrows, banners and good cheer, they started filling in the trenches made to drain the bogs with milled peat which was destined for burning at the power plant. The direct action continued for about 2 hours filling in a significant part of the trench.

Don't read the Irish Times report where EOGHAN MacCONNELL'S story about the camp must have been written some days before.

Visit the camp site  |   Read the EXCELLENT HANDBOOK, a primer on climate justice and, like the Camp, a ‘focal point for the creation of a movement in Ireland that resists the structures that have caused the climate crisis and demands justice for the affected communities, both at home and abroad'.


Friends of the Irish Environment, who are supporting the Climate Camp at Shannonbridge, are referring Bord na Mona's immunity from prosecution under the Water Pollution Acts to the European Commission.

Section 27 of the 1946 Turf Act removed the obligation of Bord na Mona to comply with the Fisheries Acts which protect our waters. This is an infringement of EU environment law which requires protection of our water.

This case illustrates the European Commission's concern that Ireland's national laws are maintaining a system of parallel legislation which undermines EU Directives.

Press Release  |  FIE Peat Page


 

 

PRESS RELEASE
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
17 JUNE 2009

GOVERNMENT BOG SALE STOPPED
PEAT ABSTRACTION ‘UNSUSTAINABLE'

The Department of the Environment has been embarrassed by the refusal of An Bord Pleanala to allow the development of a bog it had contracted to sell to Erin Horticulture of Kilballyskea Bog, Shinrone, County Offally for peat extraction.

The Department had been intending to use the site to relocate displaced peat producers from bogs that were designated conservation areas in the locality. When this did not happen, they offered the bog for public sale.


PRESS RELEASE
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
17 JUNE 2009

GOVERNMENT BOG SALE STOPPED
PEAT ABSTRACTION ‘UNSUSTAINABLE'

The Department of the Environment has been embarrassed by the refusal of An Bord Pleanala to allow the development of a bog it had contracted to sell to Erin Horticulture of Kilballyskea Bog, Shinrone, County Offally for peat extraction.

The Department had been intending to use the site to relocate displaced peat producers from bogs that were designated conservation areas in the locality. When this did not happen, they offered the bog for public sale.

The sale was subject to receiving the necessary consents.

The Planning Appeals Board refused permission after an appeal from An Taisce because ‘The proposed development would adversely affect an [Habitats Directive] Annex I habitat type: ‘degraded raised bog still capable of natural regeneration'.

The Inspector noted that ‘‘In the absence of evidence that the proposed harvesting of peat is necessary and that alternatives have been fully explored, the proposed exploitation of a non renewable resource and the consequent release of CO2 emmissions into the atmosphere is an unsustainable form of development.'

The case is being highlighted by the environmental network Friends of the Irish Environment who claim the abstraction of peat in the midlands is ‘vast and unknown'.

The group is also highlighting the results of a test case they have been following in County Westmeath involving a 200 hectare site near Castlepollard that they say is typical of activities being carried out across the midlands without any planning permission.

Local authorities claim the exemptions for peat extraction are so ‘generous' that peat abstraction can not be stopped. Any site drained before 2001 is exempt; any site of less than 10 hectares is exempt, even if it affects a greater area. And any site which has been drained for more than 7 years is exempt.

A survey of local authorities by FIE has shown that to date none have records of private peat extraction in their counties either with permission or as exempt development, yet some sites being exploited are over 1,000 hectares in size.

Finally, the group has written to the Minister for Agriculture seeking to have the indemnity for prosecution given to Bord na Mona under the Fisheries Acts ended. The 1945 Turf Act protects the company from prosecution and permits the Minister to only impose environmental controls where ‘such provisions will not cause substantial detriment to the works or substantial hindrance to, or substantial increase to the cost of, the works.'

A spokesman said ‘We have contacted all the Departments and Agencies involved in control of these operations - the EPA, the Fisheries Board, the Departments of Agriculture and Environment, and the Local Authorities - without any meaningful response to date.'

‘This decision by the Board is a landmark case that should serve as a wake up call to the Minister for the Environment.'

Verification and further information: Tony Lowes 027 74771 / 087 2176316

FIE letters to DoA
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/friendswork/index.php?do=friendswork&action=view&id=785
and DoE
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/friendswork/index.php?do=friendswork&action=view&id=786
ABP Inspectors Report on Kilballyskea Bog
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/cmsfiles/files/library/abp_r225687.pdf
Peat slide show
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/peat/SmoothSlideshow-2.1-mootools/peat_timed.html


Editors note:
In its submissions to the authorities, the group says that drainage of peat causes
• the release of nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates (as well as heavy metals) which can lead to eutrophication and drinking water parameter exceedences
• high levels of organic colour which can cause acidification and can react with chlorine to produce carcinogenic trihalomethanes, identified by the EPA as the major threat in 55 public drinking water supplies
• sediment transport which can damage to aquatic organisms through the clogging of gills and the deposition of fine peat silt on spawning beds as well as increased turbidity which can result in reduced photosynthesis restricting vegetative growth
• reduction of water storage capacity in affected catchments
• emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere

 

 

Friends of the Irish Environment, who are supporting the Climate Camp at Shannonbridge, are referring Bord na Mona's immunity from prosecution under the Water Pollution Acts to the European Commission.

Section 27 of the 1946 Turf Act removed the obligation of Bord na Mona to comply with the Fisheries Acts which protect our waters. This is an infringement of EU environment law which requires protection of our water.

This case illustrates the European Commission's concern that Ireland's national laws are maintaining a system of parallel legislation which undermines EU Directives.

Press Release  |  FIE Peat Page


 

 

One of two letters seeking the end of the immunity of Bord na Mona's operations from the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts.


John Gormley, T.D.,
Minister for Environment
Department of Environment,
Customs House,
Dublin 1
16 June 2009 by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re: Parallel legislation incompatible with the Water Framework Directive

Dear Minister;

We are writing to you subsequent to our initial letter of 6 June, 2009, in relation to the failure of Ireland to assess the impact of the widespread unauthorised and exempt peat extraction taking place.

We now wish to draw your attention to Section 27 of the Turf Development Act 1945 which we would suggest is incompatible with the Water Framework Directive.

This Section of the Act gives immunity to Bord na Mona's operations from the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts. The Minister is only required to take such measures to protect the Environment if taking ‘such precautions and making such provisions will not cause substantial detriment to the works or substantial hindrance to, or substantial increase to the cost of, the works.'

We were alerted to this anomaly in the law during our current ongoing investigation into the widespread unauthorised and exempt (and unrecorded) extraction of peat through a 2004 research paper. The reference is in Biology And Environment: Proceedings Of The Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 104b, No. 3, 17/32 (2004) entitled ‘Freshwater Fish Conservation In The Irish Republic: A Review Of Pressures And Legislation Impacting On Conservation Efforts' by Mike Fitzsimons and Fran Igoe, which we attach.

You will be aware that the European Commission has expressed concern that Ireland's national laws are maintaining a system of parallel legislation that undermines the implementation of the Water Framework Directive.

We would be grateful for your assurances that the matter will be dealt without delay.

Respectfully yours,

Tony Lowes