Industrial peat extraction on a vast scale has been confirmed by the Department of the Environment after investiugating FIE’s satellite survey of exposed peatlands commissioned from University College Cork in 2010.
126 sites of industrial extraction over 30 hectares size, many of them over 100 hectares in size, were visited by Local Authority staff after the Department provided them with maps from the survey.
Most of the sites are being operated by about ten ‘mini-Bord na Monas’ – most of them non-Irish – who have no planning permission or licence. Until now the many local authorities involved had no records of any peat extraction in their counties.
The Government’s request to each local authority to ‘ground truth’ each site has revealed that most of the sites require planning permission and environmental impact assessment – of the 18 sites identified in County Westmeath, all require planning permission. Read about it in the Village Magazine.
EU INVESTIGATION CLOSURE DEMONSTRATES LIMITATIONS OF EU CONSERVATION LAW
The EU’s decision to close its longstanding investigations into Irish salmon farming demonstrates the limitations of EU environmental law. While the Commission admitted that the evidence ‘clearly show that sea lice infestation levels in salmon farms have an effect on migrating wild Atlantic salmon in terms of their overall survival rate’, it requires ‘uncontested scientific evidence’ and that evidence must be related to a river designated under the directives as there is ‘no provision under EU law for a general ban on salmon farming.’
A review published last week by top international scientists from Norway, Scotland and Ireland of all 300 available published studies on the effects of sea lice confirmed that sea lice have ‘negatively impacted wild sea trout stocks in salmon farming areas in Ireland, Scotland and Norway‘ and that ‘sea lice have a potential significant and detrimental effect on marine survival of Atlantic salmon with potentially 12-44% fewer salmon spawning in salmon farming areas’.
BIM’s statement welcoming the closure of the case in which they state that there is ‘no evidence to support the suggestion that salmon in Irish rivers are being adversely affected by sea lice from salmon farms’ is both unscientific and unsound.
An injunction is being sought by the environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment in the High Court to require Marine Harvest to cease the extraction of water from a lough in Connemarra, to remove a three kilometre pipeline, and to restore the site to its natural condition.
The injunction, taken under Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act, comes after Galway County Council ruled that the development was unauthorised and required planning permission.
The site is one of the most valuble nature conservation areas in Ireland and the activities connected with the fish farm threaten birds and wilkdlife as well as rare marine species.
Read the detailed objection to the Council
Friends of the Irish Environment, who are seeking an injunction to remove Marine Harvest’s three kilometre pipe line extracting water from a lough in Connemarra, have welcomed the decision of the Council to reject Marine Harvest’s application to retain the works. The Council ruled last month that the work required planning permission and was not exempt development. The Company then applied for permission to retain the illegal development. ‘This international company is not short of legal advice – it knew well from the outset that it needed planning permission for this work and that any retroactive planning permission would not be legally valid. Marine Harvest tried to cash in on the ‘retention culture’ – developers who build first and ask afterwards – but those days are gone. The European Courts have made it quite clear that you must assess the impact of a project before you begin, not after it is done.
Mr. Lowes claimed that the state is ‘deeply complicity’ in the operation. ‘Údarás na Gaelteachta, the Regional Authority, established a company, Bradan Beo Teo. on 2 July 2012 to which a abandoned fish farm license was transferred. Thus, the State is the license holder and is legally liable for Marine Harvest’s actions. Marine Harvest itself has no legal presence in Ireland but operates through a number of companies ‘trading as’ Marine Harvest Ireland.
Council rejection letter
FIE Submission seeking rejection:
In a submission to the National Peatlands Strategy, Friends of the Irish Environment have pointed out that total emissions from our bogs are of the same scale as total emissions from the transport sector yet the draft Strategy fails to integrate with climate change policy and indeed is in conflict with Ireland's obligations under the UNFCCC.
The strategy has not been informed by a legal analysis of Ireland's obligations under UNFCCC nor by a policy analysis of what these obligations mean for peatland management. The Policy should set out Ireland's obligations regards carbon stores and sinks under UNFCCC.