Peat Power

The status of Bord na Mona as a 'public authority' is to be determined by the Supreme Court. Environmentalist Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment had brought an action against Bord na Mona challenging its refusal to release to him details of the extent and condition of their bogs. While refusing Lowes' Judicial review on grounds of commercial confidentiality, Justice Murphy of the High Court did not find it necessary to determine the status of the Board having found that the commercial confidentiality exception was available to them. Both sides have acknowledged that there are inconsistencies in the Judgment and have found it difficult to understand why the principal issue of "public authority" was not dealt with by the Court. Lowes has appealed the Judgement challenging the grounds of commercial confidentiality and seeking clarification of the Board's status.
Bord na Mona has cross appealed the Judgement, seeking to establish that they are not a public authority and do not come under the terms of the Directive

The status of Bord na Mona as a 'public authority' is to be determined by the Supreme Court. Environmentalist Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment had brought an action against Bord na Mona challenging its refusal to release to him details of the extent and condition of their bogs. While refusing Lowes' Judicial review on grounds of commercial confidentiality, Justice Murphy of the High Court did not find it necessary to determine the status of the Board having found that the commercial confidentiality exception was available to them. Both sides have acknowledged that there are inconsistencies in the Judgment and have found it difficult to understand why the principal issue of "public authority" was not dealt with by the Court. Lowes has appealed the Judgement challenging the grounds of commercial confidentiality and seeking clarification of the Board's status.
Bord na Mona has cross appealed the Judgement, seeking to establish that they are not a public authority and do not come under the terms of the Directive
Subject: Ref: Impacts on the Priority Habitat - Natural Eutrophic Lake with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition type vegetation. (Code 3150)
Ian Hester
Knock, Lanesboro,
Co Longford.
To: Tony Dolan, Licensing and Control EPA.
Date: 29-8-03
Subject: Ref: Impacts on the Priority Habitat - Natural Eutrophic Lake with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition type vegetation. (Code 3150)
Dear Tony,
In relation to M629/ CA01td, concerning the re-use of ash for 'construction' purposes at Clondra level crossing and at other level crossings sub-sites, specifically Derrymacr, Derryadd, Corlea-Lough Bannow ( see prints) of the Mountdillon bog complex, I would like you to consider the following:
The primary production by microphytobenthos and macrophytes on the bottom and phytoplankton, is a main process supporting life in flowing waters (beside the import of organic matter from the catchments area). Part of the organic matter will be consumed by the autochtonus organisms themselves and by all other bacteria, fungi, and animals of the river community for the maintenance of life, for growth, and reproduction. Another part will be exported off the river ecosystem, or accumulated into organic sediments.
Your notice is drawn to the parallel here with peat deposits accumulating on Lough Ree cSAC, Site code 0440.
We are especially concerned about relations between river morphology-stratigraphy and Primary production of river communities.
Primary production is determined by many different abiotic and biotic variables, e.g.:
Light available within the water and on the river bottom,
Flood dynamics…(scouring of plants, water turbidity)
Slope of river bed, nature and grain size composition of the sediments.
In the context of potential adverse impacts from the ESB and BnM, the above are relevant here.
Attached ( appendix 1) is an extract from John Feehan /Grace O'Donovan (authors) 'The Environmental Impact of large -scale development', taken from the book 'The Bogs of Ireland', which was first published in 1996, in which he points out the potential inadequacy of the peat silt traps used by BnM.
This is further verified by the levels of peat found in the State Marina site at Ballyleague, Co Roscommon. (see appended borehole horizon tests from State Marina Ballyleague). He states as follows: "little is known in a quantitative way about the short or long-term effects of peat silt, and some of the more serious impacts may not be obvious".
Dr Mary Kelly Quinn (UCD), water quality specialist, has stated that "A toxic substance not present or impossible to find in a chemical analysis will show its affect on the biological community long after it has passed downstream". (Source: UCD lecture notes)
Interestingly enough, Mr John Feehan does not refer to any potential threat from this ash, 'inert' or in any form in his 'bible' ('The Bogs of Ireland') as discussed here in the broader sense.
The origin of alluvium benthic upper deposits on the Lough (see Appendix 2) might be traced to its source in a 'follow up' examination, to indicate whether it is of one and the same nature and origin as the ash deposits of silica and complex mixture of calcium silicates. (See EIS technical summary for new peat generation station).
The ash constituents' approximate range and percentage w/w are given with CaO 38-60% and Ferric oxides 3-12%, Mg O 4-6%, Sio2 18-24% and C 8-12%.
It also states that Fe is precipitated in the ash and will not leach out under alkaline conditions. Some of the levels of the parameters e.g. Iron and manganese in the lake (see tables Appendix 3 of EIS for State marina site) may translate from and be environmentally significant to the parameters in EIS for the New Peat-fired Station.
Cadmium exceeded Dutch 'S' levels of 0.8mg/kg at 1.48 and 1.78/kg in the ash analysis in the EIS for the new peat-fired power station. This is significant even if the Dutch levels have no relevance in Irish law. Peat has elevated levels of molybdenum, cadmium, and selenium, and these analytes would be enriched in the ash. There are inconsistencies with the figures (see table) in the marina core samples, and the Ash disposal analytes in the EIS for the new power station. Molybdenum and selenium are absent. A review of the analysis of these parameters and their impacts must be undertaken, including the biannual sampling of chlorine, which is not frequent enough.
Fish Survey
Concern for Lough Ree NHA, cSAC.
In the EIS- (appended) for the State Marina at Ballyleague on Lough Ree NHA and cSAC the species of fish stock surveyed were limited in numbers, regarding native species such as Rudd -2, Tench-5, Pike-4, and Bream-3, compared to introduced/non-native species such as Perch -44, Roach-154, and Roach x Bream hybrids 34, in higher numbers. As it states in the fish survey that quote 'roach compete for food and habitat with other fish species notably rudd (Caffrey and Conneely 1994) it is possible that the above mentioned key variable for primary production, 'nature and grain size composition of sediment' may also influence spawning ground habitat conditions as it does food supply and so the decreased numbers of native species with a threat to eventual extinction. (See Appendix 4)
Notwithstanding the significance of the competition for food, it may well be that the higher numbers recorded for
introduced/non-native species may mean that they are more pollution tolerant, and tolerant to changes in composition of spawning grounds.
The decline in numbers of the ice age relic, Pollan fish (an Annex11 species) may also be environmentally significant in this regard. Also there is concern for the population of Freshwater crayfish (an Annnex 11 species) found in the Derrymacar river, as documented in the EIS for the new peat-fired power station. The Derrymacar level crossing is a site included for reuse of ash for 'construction' purposes. (See photos)

The Assessment of Environmental Impacts shall be evaluated for the Lough Ree cSAC. The composite sampler proposed for the Mountdillon complex will identify some of the parameters, when (or if) it is in place. Samples to determine quantity, of ash in drains, and settlement ponds, and consolidation of the ash spread area on the lake bed should be undertaken and evaluated for potential loss of ash sediment and analytes through surface water run-off and air dispersal. The precise timing of this is important, with the emptying of ponds twice a year. Condition 6.11 states: 'All silt ponds prone to flooding shall be de-silted by Ist November each year at the start of the production season and before annual ditching operations. The contents of the settlement ponds are referred to as sludge in 6.11 IPC 504 quote ' excavated sludge shall be removed by disposal to a location outside the flood plain'.
In Condition 2.2.2 (vi) 'reuse of silt pond waste'. There is also a potential for pollution to the Shannon system from this disposal of sludge outside the floodplain. This issue is not addressed in the EMP or in EIS for the new peat-fired power station.
Environmental Management Plan ( EMP)
On Thursday, 2ist July 2003, the level crossing at the Clondra site where the ash was disposed of during a period of inclement weather (June - July 2002), there was quite strong wind, and the ash dust plume resembled those in the Great Plains 'dust bowl' of America. (see appended extracts and fig 21. 5 from ' Modern Physical Geography' Fourth Edition by Alan H Strahler, Arthur N Strhlerand and Fig 21.5 After R. A Bagnold).
The extract states that 'it has been estimated that as much as 1000 metric tons of dust may be suspended in a cubic kilometre of air (4000 tons/cu mi)'.
The ash Dust Bowl at the Clondra level crossing, the site of our first complaint, was blowing on to stockpiled peat, un-milled peat surface and into drain courses and across the level crossing main road. So we have ash winding up again in the combustion process, another form of unsustainable recycling or 'reuse'. In other words how many units of ash in proportion to peat is going back into the generation process -1 in 4, 1 in 5, 1 in 6? Would it be possible for you to produce an estimate of the ratio for the general public?
Allowances must also be made for poor quality or wet peat, and the use of low grade oil to increase combustion rate, or to increase the efficiency of the plant at start up. This would equate that for every x number of loads of peat, you got 1 load of ash and for every x number units of peat for combustion you get 1 unit of absolute energy conversion. What are the implications of this for the new peat-fired power station in terms of energy proficiency?
The methodology that could be used might include the use of a dye in the borehole ash disposal site at Derrahaun (DADF), in order to determine the directional flow of the water for potential contamination by leachate of nearby wells and aquifers. In terms of the leachate from the ash ponds and potential pollution from DADF this is still a cause for concern contrary to EIS findings that there was no significant impacts. See 'groundwater withdrawal' extract from Arthur N Strahler and Fig16.28.
It is our opinion that this ash landfill (DADF) is not a 'wise use' concept of wetlands in terms of Ramsar Convention of which Ireland is a signatory. The landfill is in conflict with the principle of Condition 6.11(see above). We have grave doubts about the wisdom of this DADF landfill within the floodplain and its effectiveness in limiting the potential adverse impacts on the receiving ecosystem/ receptors and in particular the Shannon system.
Complaint to Europe
A formal complaint will be made relying on Europe P 2001/4787 regarding the State marina (taking into consideration the fact that more state marinas are in the pipeline, with consideration of the cumulative potential damaging impacts on Lough Ree), residential complexes, agriculture, and large-scale developments by the ESB and BnM.
Peat deposits of over 1 meter are found around the Lough with light occluding properties, and restricting aquatic plants to shallow depths. To a smaller extent the thermal plume from the ESB (especially in hot weather with low water levels) is a cause for concern.
If one of your inspectors were to come to the site he would see for himself the obvious signs of pollution on the surface of the water: slime and other algae mats along the hot water stretch, with macro-invertebrates non existent or low in numbers (for details see the EIS for the peat-fired power station).
The problem is further compounded by all the bait a nutrient that is thrown into the hot water stretch by the high number of anglers that frequent the place each year.
The EPA sapling station at Lanesboro bridge is denoted by an asterisk ( *) which denotes problems on this stretch just upstream from the Lough Ree cSAC. We have already made approaches to you regarding this in the past with little response or explanation. The crystal clear water at present indicates a potential pollution threat.
In retrospect we request that the EPA should now proceed as soon as possible with a review of the analysis in the EIA technical summary for the new peat generation power station bearing in mind aspects that were not addressed - ash and peat dust dispersal.
The study will have to take on board the implications of Climatic change caused by Fossil Fuels where a rise of 2 degrees will result in less rainfall and lower recharge, therefore less bog formation and lowered river-lake levels during summer, posing a significant ecological threat.
Condition 10 of 504 Reason To make provision for the proper closure of the activity ensuring protection of the environment.
The Assessment of Environmental Impacts might be carried out in conjunction with the monitoring as recommended in IPC 629 Schedule1 (iii)and Schedule1(iv).
There has been on-going doubt about the disposal of this ash into a wetland system as well as the systematic and indiscriminate disposal on private driveways and, as has occurred in the past, other critical areas such as roadsides in the Shannon catchments.
In the Lough Derg & Lough Ree Executive Report 2001 Pages 32, (Appendix 5) it states that 'Bord na Mona worked bogs within Brosna, Blackwater and Laurencstown catchments were also identified as having an adverse impact on water quality'.
On page 34 it states 'there is a general association between runoff from peatlands and elevated ammonium levels which requires further investigation' and 'it is recommended that the monitoring programme within the peatlands special study area is continued to enable further evaluation of the worked bogs on water quality'. BnM needs to regularly review the performance of the silt traps in accordance with its Environmental Management System and to take appropriate action where necessary to ensure compliance with their IPC licence.
This report did not, however, impart this study to other areas of intensive harvesting such as in the MountDillon bog complex IPC 404 licence where there is a much greater harvesting process in operation.
We recommend that this monitoring be carried out in this region with a special study into the peat dust/silt and ash dust/sediment dispersal by air and surface water respectively. With 30,000 tons of ash every year over so many years in the past and for the next 15 years it is a considerable potential threat to the receiving waterways.
With regard to the statement quote "Environmental Management Plan (EMP) shall as a minimum include the following objectives 2.2.1, 2.2.2, (i) (ii) (iv) (v) (vi), 2.2.3 in relation to peat and peat dust. This should be reciprocated in turn, to the ash dust spread at the level crossings.
Conditions 4 -4.7, 5, 6,- 6.6,6.7, 6.12, 7, -7.4, 11 (iii) 10 and12 should also apply to Ash re-use. The ash has a re-use value for construction purposes and the EPA, BnM, ESB have agreed on terms that are opaque to the general public. In Licence in IPC 504 there is nothing on paper in relation to this ash, save for the very opaque Schedule 2(i) and 2(ii) and other Note 4 which applies to ash (presumably but not conclusively: 'Other Wastes for Disposal/Recovery').
We recommend that you revoke this section of the licence 504 until such time that there is amore sustainable and less ecologically damaging re-use of this ash put in place. There is no market for the ash, but does that justify this kind of disposal? It compromises the environmental management plan (EMP). We understand an application is been sought for Roscommon County Council to your office for ash reuse in road construction.
We request that:
An Appropriate Assessment of environmental impacts shall be evaluated with this application and indeed for all other such applications with full public consultation as part of the EIA.
We believe that a full EIA on ASH re-use in the past is warranted, with full public consultation for it is mandatory under European Legislation. This was never addressed or discussed in any form, not even in public consultation for the new peat-fired power generating station. There were objections privately and publicly to the dumping of this ash. On one occasion a consignment of ash was blocked by residents in Roscommon at the entrance to The Hill of Bones, Townspark, Roscommon, which is beside a Turlough and Roscommon Castle. From the evidence seen there today, trees are not thriving, with over twenty (No.) dead due to a high water table caused by the impermeable ash pan. There are potential adverse impacts on the Turlough/aquifiers and on people who use the park from exposure to dust that becomes airborne from ash that is exposed.
We request that no further 'reuse' of this ash in public parks or at landscaping projects will take place. Reason In the interest of Public Health and safety.
I trust you will give this matter your urgent attention and especially with the EU Water Framework Directive -Shannon Basin Initiative at such a crucially important public awareness phase.
Ian Hester

"Huge amounts of peat need to be extracted to feed these two power stations. Not only is it uneconomical, but it is also an environmental catastrophe." More on the "doomed technology"...

Patricia McKenna, Green Party MEP

Tuesday 11 September, 2001

In a hard hitting and trenchant Press Release issued in Brussels today, Patricia McKenna replied today to Bord na Mona's Chief Executive Sean Grogan's recent claims that her comments on the proposed new peat powered plants were "inaccurate, misleading, and alarmist".

"The use of peat as a fuel is a doomed technology", Ms. McKenna stated, "and the only question is when it will end."

Ms McKenna went on to charge that

"Mr. Grogan's statement does not address the issue of the Commission's clear position that Ireland has not designated enough raised bogs to satisfy the Habitats Directive. It does not address the issue of our new obligations under the Biodiversity Convention to protect our native flora and fauna. It does not initiate the long awaited consultative process that will see a binding agreement for the restoration of the vast midland bogs already destroyed in the name of national security of electricity supply and income support. It does not address the issue of disadvantaging renewable energy through heavily subsiding a fossil fuel by adding to the electricity bill for every household in Ireland."

Ms McKenna's detailed response to points made by the Bord na Mona Chief Executive is attached.


Detailed response by Patricia McKenna. MEP, to Sean Grogan, Chief Executive of Bord na Mona Energy Ltd.

STATEMENT: "1,800 hectares per annum of peatland will be destroyed over the coming decades is simply not true, he said. The bogs to be used are currently in use for peat production and no new areas will be acquired or developed to supply these stations."

REPLY: Environmentalist do not accept that simply putting a lateral drain down a bog means that "bogs are currently in use for peat production". Bogs which have never been harvested before are to be utilized for these plants as well as vast extensions of existing bogs.

The demand for peat at the Shannonbridge plant alone will consume more than 1.2 million tons of peat, including 300,000 tons to be moved by road to eek out the Blackwater and Boora peat reserves. Mr Grogan should release a list of the specific bogs to be utilised during the life of the two plants, something environmentalist have been unable to obtain from the Company.

Ireland is facing daily fines for its failure to properly apply the EIA Directive because of unassessed turf cutting yet neither the Environmental Impact Statement or the EPA license application says a word about the effect of these plants on Ireland's peatlands.

STATEMENT: "Much of this 8% will eventually be used for development of wetlands, forestry, or grasslands, all of which will absorb carbon dioxide when put in place."

REPLY: No consultations have taken place with any stakeholders about an comprehensive after use plan that details exactly what will be done with each bog and when this will be done. Recent research suggests that the planting of forestry on bogs may in fact not be in the interest of climate control but there is currently no forum for these issues to be discussed. In no other form of "mining" would permission be given for development without a binding conditions requiring full details of all restoration.

STATEMENT: "The two proposed power stations will replace 6 existing less efficient stations and the technology used will be to produce 35% less CO2 per unit of electricity generated."

REPLY: While the proposed plants produce 35% less CO2 than the older plants, they will produce almost three times more CO2 per unit than natural gas - and even that does not compare with wind energy, which produces no CO2 when in use. Further, the heated water produced is entirely wasted rather than being used in a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant. The plant does not even have an element of biomass. Bord na Mona is sticking its head in the bog and refusing to face the reality of climate change.

STATEMENT: "She asserts that peatland is more efficient that forest in capturing carbon. In fact, forests actually absorb five times more carbon that peatlands each year, he said."

REPLY: The argument is not how fast forestry or peatland absorb carbon sinks, but how much they can hold - and for how long. According to John Feehan's "Bogs of Ireland" forests can hold 300 tons of CO2. But blanket bogs hold 800 tons and raised bogs hold 2,000 tons. The proposal to destroy raised bogs can not be justified with our new knowledge about climate change.

STATEMENT: "Ms McKenna says that the developments will wreck havoc on habitats listed for protection. This again is simply not true, Sean Grogan said."

No one is claiming that bogs listed for protection are under threat. But the Commission has made it clear to Ireland that Ireland has not designated enough raised bogs to satisfy the Habitats Directive. It is these bogs which are at threat, as are many valuable parts of bogs where work has already begin but of which vast areas could still be saved if the drainage work was reversed.


We, the undersigned Irish non-governmental environmental organisations, wish to have a petition accepted for consideration. Our organisations represent more than 15,000 members of the Irish public concerned with the future of Ireland and the world's environment.

President of the European Parliament,

European Parliament,

Members Activities Division,

Committee of Petitions,


L - 2929 Luxembourg

September 3, 2001

Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned Irish non-governmental environmental organisations, wish to have a petition accepted for consideration. Our organisations represent more than 15,000 members of the Irish public concerned with the future of Ireland and the world's environment.

This petition opposes the proposal before the Commission to permit Ireland to direct the Irish Commissioner for Electricity Regulation to impose a Public Service Obligation on the national Electricity Supply Board to source a certain quantity of electricity from peat-fired sources. The imposed Public Service Obligation would allow for the recovery of excess costs of production from all electricity users with the effect that all users of electricity in Ireland would be required to pay for this environmentally damaging activity.

This approach is outlined in the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Shannonbridge Power Station in County Roscommon.

"However, arising from concerns to ensure that a reasonable level of national self sufficiency in energy sources for electricity supply is maintained, the Government has indicated its intention to direct the Commission for Electricity Regulation to impose an obligation on the ESB to source a certain quantity of electricity from peat-fired sources. The imposed Public Service Obligation would allow for the recovery of excess costs of production from all electricity users. The Government has applied to the European Commission for approval of its proposed action. The approval application is framed on the basis that ESB will discharge its obligation by the purchase of the output of the 117 MegaWatts Edenderry Power Limited Peat-fired Station for 15 years, closure of existing older peat-fired stations and the construction of replacement stations at Shannonbridge and Lanesboro."

The grounds of our petition are attached.

Respectfully yours,

Michael Smith,

National Chairman

An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland

And on behalf of

Friends of the Irish Environment

Grian, The Greenhouse Ireland Action Network

Irish Peatland Conservation Council

The Irish Wildlife Trust

VOICE of Concern for the Irish Environment.

An TaisceThe National Trust for IrelandThe Tailors' Hall, Back Lane, Dublin 8Tel. 01-453 3428 Fax 01-453 3255 e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

3 September, 2001



1. Contravention of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol

2. Lack of compliance with Habitats Directive

3. Contravention of Biodiversity Convention

4. Security of national supply

5. Competition & State Aid Issues

6. Disadvantaging renewable energy

7. Protection of Archaeological Heritage

8. Lack of Rehabilitation proposals

1. Contravention of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol

The Irish State is seeking planning permission for two new power plants to operate by extracting peat from raised bogs to burn for electricity generation. This will be done by Bord na M??na and the ESB - two state companies in cooperation.

The Irish Environmental Protection Agency Millennium Report states "Switching to less carbon-intensive fuels and particularly reducing Ireland's high level of dependence on fossil fuels will be important (in the abatement of emissions)".

The use of peat for production of electricity has a triple greenhouse gas impact:

a. CO2 release from combustion, peat being the most carbon-intensive of fossil fuels.

b. oxidation of unharvested peat from peatlands drained for extraction.

c. removal of a sink which would otherwise continue to absorb carbon.

This destruction of a sink is in conflict with the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which constitutes a binding international agreement and of which Ireland is a signatory. We refer in particular to the obligations set out in the following articles of the Convention:



In their actions to achieve the objective of the Convention and to implement its provisions, the Parties shall be guided, INTER ALIA, by the following:

3....The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost. To achieve this, such policies and measures should take into account different socio-economic contexts, be comprehensive, cover all relevant sources, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and adaptation, and comprise all economic sectors. Efforts to address climate change may be carried out cooperatively by interested Parties.



1....All Parties, taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and their specific national and regional development priorities, objectives and circumstances, shall:

(d)....Promote sustainable management, and promote and cooperate in the conservation and enhancement, as appropriate, of sinks and reservoirs of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, including biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems;

2....The developed country Parties and other Parties included in Annex I commit themselves specifically as provided for in the following:

(a)....Each of these Parties shall adopt national policies and take corresponding measures on the mitigation of climate change, by limiting its anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing its greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs. These policies and measures will demonstrate that developed countries are taking the lead in modifying longer-term trends in anthropogenic emissions consistent with the objective of the Convention, recognizing that the return by the end of the present decade to earlier levels of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol would contribute to such modification, and taking into account the differences in these Parties' starting points and approaches, economic structures and resource bases, the need to maintain strong and sustainable economic growth, available technologies and other individual circumstances, as well as the need for equitable and appropriate contributions by each of these Parties to the global effort regarding that objective. These Parties may implement such policies and measures jointly with other Parties and may assist other Parties in contributing to the achievement of the objective of the Convention and, in particular, that of this subparagraph."

The Irish Economic and Social Research Institute [ESRI] stated in its Mid-Term Evaluation of Community Structural Funds:

"Ireland is party to EU policies regarding the adoption of national emission quotas for atmospheric pollutants. Once these national limits are being approached, additional projects which emit pollutants in question must be constrained in some fashion. Whatever method is employed, the implication is that a penalty, in the form of some shadow price, must now be attached to the projects in question. These shadow prices could be significant, and could materially affect the economics of the project. This issue is likely to become a serious matter in areas such as heavy industry or power generation, and is one concern regarding the European Project, discussed elsewhere."

This Report concludes:

"Because of the undesirable side-effects of peat powered electricity generation, successive studies have recommended against this investment."

2. Lack of Compliance with the Habitats Directive

Severe losses of raised bogs across the European range means that today only 46,552 ha remain. The Republic holds 23,527 ha (51%) of the Community's resource. 22% of the Irish raised bogs have been destroyed in the last 50 years, mainly for generating electricity. Over the coming decades an estimated 1,800 hectares of bog will be harvested for this purpose.

Given the Judgement of the European Court in First Corporate Shipping, the exclusion of 4,993 ha of active raised bog and 9,683 degraded bog, detailed in the 1998 submission by the Irish Peatland Conservation Council to Environmental Commissioner Bjerregaard can no longer be sustained.

The additional sites recommended in this Report and in the Irish NGO Submission to the Nature Topic Center, "Protecting Nature In Ireland -

The NGO Special Areas of Conservation Shadow List" includes three cluster concentrations within areas that are subject to intensive industrial peat extraction: the Upper Shannon/Lough Ree cluster, Lower Shannon/Little Brosna cluster, and the Bog of Allen Transect from Kildare to Galway.

The Irish NGO Report lists 113 sites which have put been forward by Ireland's NGO's for adoption as Special Areas of Conservation.

In a letter dated 21 May, 2001, The Head of Unit, Environmental Directorate B Nature Study and Biodiversity, stated to the Irish Peatland Conservation Council:

"The Commission recognizes that Ireland has made significant progress last year in proposing sites for protection under the Habitats Directive, including those for Active Raised Bogs. However, DG Environment has informed the Irish authorities that it is our view that further raised bog sites need to be proposed by Ireland to meet the objectives of the Directive. This view would be reaffirmed by the judgment of the Court in the case of First Corporate Shipping.

It is our view, based on available scientific evidence, that unless Ireland proposes additional sites for this interest raised bog will not be sufficiently represented on the Irish national list. However, it will only be in the context of the next Biogeographical Seminar for the Atlantic Region that it will be possible to come to a collective scientific view on the sufficiency of different national proposed lists of sites for the different habitat types and species for this region. The Atlantic seminar was foreseen for Autumn this year but due to delays in submission of sites and data from Member States it may be necessary to review this timetable as has been required for other regions."

This concern is strengthened as no list is supplied by Bord na Mona of the bogs it intends to harvest for these plants.

3. Contravention of Biodiversity Convention

Within the national nature designation process 44% of the Natural Heritage Areas are peatland but none of these have management plans which would ensure their favourable conservation status. The importance of raised bogs for Ireland's biodiversity extends beyond the protection offered for the species and habitats listed in the Habitats Directive.

The importance for biodiversity is reflected in the fact that:

¬? 15% of our original native flora are peatland plants

¬? 26% of our mammals are dependent on peatlands at some point in their lifecycle

¬? 59 species are totally or at some phases in the life dependent on peatlands

¬? 49% of all endangered birds in Ireland occur on peatlands

¬? 23% of the endangered plants in Ireland are peatland species.

Ireland's obligations on the Biodiversity Convention require areas outside of Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas to be conserved. No attempt has been made to designate peatland wildlife in the wider countryside. Peat extraction is actively being carried out within these areas and this continues without the benefit of a suitable assessment of the environmental impact.

4. Security of national supply

The commissioning of the recent peat powered station at Edenderry ensures that continuity of security will be ensured, albeit at a lower level. In fact, Ireland's security of supply is better assured by protecting the peat reserves intact, not by exhausting the supply though exploitation at this time.

The proposed exploitation of the natural gas FIEld in Mayo and the advanced plans for a new national pipeline provides Ireland with a secure national source of fuel which, which still a fossil fuel, enables the production of electricity with a lesser level of emissions and without the destruction of the national peatland resource.

5. Competition & State Aid Issues

While it is up to the Member State to define the scope and obligation Public Service Obligations, the application of Article 86 of the EC Treaty provides that competition rules may under certain circumstances not be applicable to undertakings entrusted with the operation of services of general economic interest.

We would suggest that the contradiction of the environmental imperative identified by Ireland's Economic and Social Research Institute precludes the Commission from allowing Article 81 and 82 to be waived.

In "The Cost to Ireland of Carbon Dioxide Abatement Costs", the Irish Economic and Social Research Institute states:

"Finally, a move to substantial restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions will highlight other distortions in related markets. The policy of subsiding turf production will be highlighted as being in direct conflict with environmental imperative. If turf production for energy use continues, the implicit subsidy involved will rise dramatically. If other existing efficient plant has to be replaced before its time to allow turf production to continue this will add to existing costs. This applies both to existing turf stations and to any new ones built in the future."

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts a net growth of CO2 emissions of 63% between 1990 and 2010, with a do-nothing scenario. In the context of increased CO2 emission, the OECD examines the social argument in support of peat electricity generation as follows:

"Peat is a subsidized energy source that emits a high level of CO2 per unit of energy (1.6 kg CO2/kWh electricity, compared with 0.5 kg CO2 for a single cycled gas-fuelled power station) as well as other pollutants, and whose extraction is environmentally damaging. There is great reluctance to downsize the peat industry through the elimination of subsidies, as it is a major employer in the Midland and western areas (2000 jobs). Peat energy currently accounts for 7% of TRES. It is foreseen that peat use for electricity production will increase from 0.52 million toe in 1998 to 0.65 million toe in 2005 and then decreases (to 0.50 million toe in 2010). Peat related CO2 emissions have been estimated at 2.5 Mt in 1998, 3.16 Mt in 2005, and 2.4 Mt in 2010. A new peat-fired electricity power station (IEP 100 million) will start operating by the end of 2000. One fifth of the capital cost is supported by an EU grant. Some old plants are due to close in the next few years, to be replaced by more fuel efficient ones. The OECD-IEA has estimated the producer subsidy equivalent for peat production 1997-98 at IEP 5 per tonne. i.e. IEP 15 million per year or IEP 12,226 per employee year [Note: 1999 production was double 1997.] A consultant report suggests that replacing peat use in power stations with combined cycle gas turbines would have economic benefits and reduce CO2 emissions and damage to the landscape; the economic benefits should cover the cost of social measures to alleviate unemployment. Closure could be restricted to the 11 peat plants built in the 1950s and 1960s, with the more efficient plants under construction continuing to operate."

6. Disadvantaging renewable energy

In its Annual Report for 1999 - 2000, Bord na Mona makes the following comment:

"In September 1999 the Minister of State for Energy issued a Green Paper on Sustainable Energy and established a Task Force to advise him on the future development of wind energy. The current policy on competition for wind energy favours tax-driven developers and installations on elevated sites with high wind regimes (often scenic and controversial). A change in this policy could make it commercially viable to install windfarms, in addition to those of Renewable Energy Ireland Ltd, on Bord na Mona cut-away bog with lower wind regimes, particularly in areas such as Oweninny in Co. Mayo where the wind regime is known."

By permitting the imposition of a Public Service Obligation to support fossil fuels, the Commission works directly against the restructuring of the Irish electricity industry to favor alternative energy, where a PSO is rightly in place to support wind generation and water turbines and could be extended to the wind generation opportunities identified by Bord na Mona, the State Peat company.

The proposed cross subsidising of these power plants will further distort competition and create a market access barrier for alternative and more environmental friendly and cost effective sources of electricity supply and raw materials.

7. Protection of Archaeological Heritage

Ireland ratified the Council of Europe Valletta Convention on the archaeological Heritage on 18 March, 1997, entering into force on September 19, 1997. The definition of the archaeological heritage in Article 1 of the Convention is:

"Article 1

The aim of this (revised) Convention is to protect the archaeological

heritage as a source of the European collective memory and as an instrument for historical and scientific study. To this end shall be considered to be elements of the archaeological heritage all remains and objects and any other traces of mankind from past epochs:

- the preservation and study of which help to retrace the history of mankind and its relation with the natural environment;

- for which excavations or discoveries and other methods of research into mankind and the related environment are the main sources of information; and

- which are located in any area within the jurisdiction of the Parties.

Article 3 states:

"The archaeological heritage shall include structures, constructions, groups of buildings, developed sites, moveable objects, monuments of other kinds as well as their context, whether situated on land or under water."

The accompanying explanatory text reads:

"The phrase "elements of the archaeological heritage" is used to emphasise that it is not just objects that are important. Any evidence, of whatever nature, that can throw light on the past of mankind is important. If that evidence meets the criteria set in pargraph 2, then it is an element of the archaeological heritage. There are three criteria: first, there must be something, even a trace, which comes from past human existence; secondly, that same thing must be capable of enhancing our knowledge of the history of mankind and its relation with the natural environment; thirdly, it must be something that is mainly ascertained through investigation of an archaeological nature or deliberate discovery. Paragraph 3 gives examples of the type of things included in the archaeological heritage. It must be stressed that this list is not exhaustive, but illustrative only."

Article 2 (ii) requires "the creation of archaeological reserves, even where there are no visible remains on the ground or under water, for the preservation of material evidence to be studied by later generations"

On this basis, since peat bogs contain evidence of human interaction with the environment (preserved biological remains, etc.) that can be recovered by standard methods used in archaeology, as well as artifacts etc., they represent part of the archaeological heritage and are inherently non-renewable. The position on peat being a renewable source of energy is totally untenable on this basis.

8. Lack of rehabilitation proposals

Present plans indicate that cutaway bogs will total 85,077 hectares. Over the coming decade 1,500 hectares of bog will become available each year. Bord na Mona estimates that 50,000 hectares of cut-away bog are suitable for forestry.

Yet no national survey of cutaway bogs has taken place and no consultative after use plan has been produced for the rehabilitation or reuse of these areas, in spite of individual projects that demonstrate the success of grasslands and forestry on well drained cutaway bog areas and wildlife/wetland amenity on the areas where drainage difficulties persist.

No legal obligation exists to require rehabilitation of the cutaway bogs and the matter has been ruled beyond the jurisdiction of the Irish Planning Appeals Board and the Environmental Protection Agency's licensing system. Would such a situation be permitted in any other form of open cast mining, where binding agreements on rehabilitation are accepted as a prerequisite to any development consent?

Request for information

We have sought from the Irish authorities the correspondence between the European Commission and Ireland in relation to the approval of the Public Service Order and these have not been released on the grounds that the negotiations are "ongoing". We respectfully request these documents from the European Commission.


An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, submits this petition on its own behalf and on behalf of the Irish non-governmental environmental organisations

Friends of the Irish Environment,

Irish Peatland Conservation Council,

Grian the Greenhouse Ireland Action Network,

The Irish Wildlife Trust,

VOICE of Concern for the Irish Environment

who respectfully request the European Commission to refuse the application by Ireland to permit Ireland to direct the Irish Commissioner for Electricity Regulation to impose a Public Service Obligation on the national Electricity Supply Board to source a certain quantity of electricity from peat-fired sources and recover the costs from all users of Irish electricity.



OECD Environmental Performance Reviews, Ireland, 2001, Ooranosation for Economic Cooperation and Deve;opment

National Investment Priorities for the Period 2000 - 2006, Economic and Social Research Institute, March 1999.

EU Structural Funds in Ireland, A Mid Term Evaluation of the CSF 1994 -1999, Economic and Social Research Institute, 2000

The Costs to Ireland of Greenhouse Gas Abatement, Economic and Social Research Institute, 1997

Protecting Nature in Ireland, The NGO Special Areas of Conservation Shadow List, Dwyer, R.B. A report prepared for An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland, Coastwatch Ireland, Irish Peatland Conservation Council, and the Irish Wildlife Trust. Published by Irish Peatland Conservation Council, Dublin, 2000. ISBN: 1 874189 18 8

Irish Conservation Peatland Plan, Foss, P.J. and O'Connell, C.A., Irish Peatland Conservation Council, 2000.

Do not disturb! Peatbogs and the greenhouse effect : a synthesis of the case and recommendations for action. Maltby, Edward, Immirzi, C. P., McLaren, Duncan, Friends of the Earth. ISBN 1857500113

The Global status of peatlands and their role in carbon cycling: a report for Friends of the Earth / prepared by the Wetland Ecosystems Research Group; researched and written by C. Philip Immirzi and Edward Maltby with additional material by Richard C. Clymo , Friends of the Earth, 1992, ISBN 1857501055

A Decision Support System for Managing the Radiative Force of Irish Ombrotrophic Peatlands, Gilmer and Others, Quebec 2000: 11th International Paet Conference.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions in restored Industrial Cutaway Peatlands in central Ireland, Byrne and Others, Quebec 2000: 11th International Peat Conference.

European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (revised), Council of Europe, 1992

5 September: In a landmark decision, the Planning Appeals Board rules against Bord na Mona and requires them to seek planning permission for the extraction of peat on a 100 hectare site at Abbeyleix, Co Laois. Read the legal analysis. By this precedent, will Bord na Mona now have to apply for planning permission for the 1,500 hectares of peatlands they need each year for the new power stations, opening the way to the first Environmental Impact Assessment of peat extraction in Ireland's history?

With thanks to

RE: RF1078
Kilamuck Bog, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois

An Taisce supports the contention by Laois County Council that 'the developments which Bord na Mona are proposing to carry out at this location require planning permission and submission of an environmental impact statement (EIS)'.

An Taisce rejects the arguments put forth by Bord na Mona that the works they propose are exempt for the following reasons:

Peat extraction definition
'Peat extraction' was not included in the interpretation section of the planning legislation until recently, when in 2001 the 1994 Local Government (Planning and Development) Regulations were amended to include in regulation 3 the following
" 'peat extraction' includes any related drainage of bogland" (S.I. 600 of 2001).

The inclusion of 'related drainage' in the definition of peat extraction, aims to ensure improved environmental safegaurds in line with the European Court of Justice ruling (21 September 1999) against Ireland dealing with thresholds and environmental impact assessment (EIAs) (Case C-392/96).

Bord na Mona are citing this definition to essentially, achieve the opposite. An Taisce contends strongly that legislative intention should not be allowed to be thwarted in this manner.

Peat extraction is specified development
The 1989 Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, in article 24 consider that 'peat extraction' which would involve a new or extended area of 50 hectares is 'specified development'. This means that it cannot be exempted. The 1989 regulation amended the 1963 Planning and Development Act, to include peat extraction as prescribed and stated that it 'shall not be exempted development'. This hectarage has been reduced to 30 for EIA (S.I. no 538 of 2001) and for planning threshold to 10 hectares (S.I. 539 of 2001).

Peat extraction has been included in the planning fees schedule since 1991, without an accompanying definition.

Exempted development
An Taisce believes that 'peat extraction' has never actually been specified as exempted development in the Planning Acts, until the 2001 Planning and Development Regulations(S.I no 600 of 2001) (Schedule II, Part 3, class 17). This states 'peat extraction in a new or extended area of 10 hectares or more, where the drainage of the bogland commenced prior to the coming into force of these regulations'.

This provision directly contradicts the EIA regulations requiring peat extraction to have an EIA. In addition, a recent reasoned opinion (C ,(2001) 2253, dated 25.07.01) states in section 3.5 headed 'Execution of projects before development consent is given' the following: In the Commission's view it is inconsistent with the system of EIA provided for in the Impact Assessment Directive to allow a project to be executed in whole or in part before development consent is given.

'Peat extraction' has only recently been defined and up until now not included in the exempted developments section.
The view of the planning authority was that 'land drainage works are exempt from development consent, and that there is no direct information that Bord na Mona intends to extract peat from Kilnamuck Bog' (letter from Planning section, Laois County Council, 03.10.00 to IPCC).

Up until the 2001 regulations, had Bord na Mona wanted to extract peat from Abbeyleix bog, despite the commencement of some drainage, they clearly would have required planning permission. Despite the conflicting provision of S.I. 600/2001, An Taisce maintains that planning permission and an EIA is required.

This provision is also in direct conflict with the Planning and Development Act 2000, under which these regulations are made. The full title of this act includes the following aim:

If Bord na Mona is allowed to proceed with its programme of drainage and peat extraction for Abbeyleix bog, without planning permission and submission of a full statutory EIS, this aim and the provisions of the EIA Directive and implementing Irish regulations would be denied and the rights that they infer infringed.

4. Supremacy of European Law
The 1989 EIA regulations, which implement the 1985 EIA Directive (Directive 85/337) specify that peat extraction consent procedures must include an EIA.

The European Law has supremacy in this instance. It is a basic rule of Community law that a directly effective provision of Community law always prevails over a provision of national law. The European Court has held (in the Simmenthal case) that it was a duty of a national court to give full effect to the Community provisions and not to apply any conflicting provision of national legislation, even if it had been adopted subsequently. This is not limited to European regulations, it also applies to Directives.

In addition, the principle of direct effect with regard to Directive 85/337/EEC applies from the 3rd July 1988. This is the date by which the EIA Directive should have been implemented by member states. Irish regulations did not come into force until 1st February 1990. It is very vague from the information on file when exactly Bord na Mona commenced drainage activities on the bog. Dates range from 'shortly after purchase' in 1986, some say 1988, others say late 1980s. If Bord na Mona did not commence works on the bog until after 3rd July 1988, then it is clear that direct effect applies.

IPC procedure
It is important to note, that although Bord na Mona holds an Integrated Pollution Control licence for this site, granted 29th February 2000, number 507, that no EIA was undertaken, nor an EIS submitted as part of this IPC application, despite a clear legal requirement to so do.

In addition, the local community were not adequately provided with the opportunity to comment on the application as the notice in the newspaper stating that Bord na Mona were applying for an IPC licence only stated the following location: "Coolnamona Group c/o Boora Works, Boora, Leabeg, Tullamore, Co. Offaly".
Nowhere did the notice state that the location of the activity was actually Abbeyleix, or even in Co. Laois.

It is not acceptable that Bord na Mona undertake a voluntary EIS, and use that as a means to bypass the proper planning procedures. An EIS does not fulfil its function except as part of a decision making process.


An Taisce supports Laois County Council submission that planning permission and the submission of a full statutory EIS is required for peat extraction of Abbeyleix Bog, because:

1. An EIS has not been submitted as part of a development consent procedure for this site. The threshold for an EIA for peat extraction is 30 hectares.

2. The 1989 EIA regulations include 'peat extraction' as specified development. This means it cannot be exempted.

3. The planning threshold for peat extraction is 10 hectares. The site is proposed for 100 hectares.

4. The aim of the Planning and Development Act to provide for in the interests of the common good, proper planning and sustainable development.

5. Supremacy of European legislation and national legislation over the provision allowing exempted development for 'peat extraction for which drainage of the bogland has already commenced'.

6. The size and scale of the development must be considered in the instance. The land drainage works undertaken to date, only comprise a part of the full drainage works that are required before extraction can commence. There is another 7 years of drainage required in some sections of the bog. Bord na Mona intend to extract peat for twenty years. It is vital for the proper planning and sustainable development of Abbeyleix, that a development and an impact of this size be subjected to the full rigours of planning and environmental law.

7. Reasoned opinion (C,(2001) 4246) states 'treating drainage works as outside the scope of the Directive would be contrary and would undermine the scheme and purpose of the Directive in relation to peat extraction'. To accept the commencement of drainage works as a reason for exempting Bord na Mona (or any other developer) from the requirement to seek planning permission and submit and EIS, would further undermine the purpose of the EIA Directive in Ireland.

For these reasons, and also because of the real possibility that Abbeyleix Bog is of Special Area of Conservation status, despite the drainage undertaken to date, An Taisce contends that a planning application including full statutory EIS be submitted to Laois County Council for the proposed peat extraction.

The precautionary principle must apply here, in line with our European commitments and national aim of sustainable development. An Taisce, fully supports the IPPC view that planning permission must be sought for this development.

An Taisce