As the Irish Planning Appeals Board gives the Edenderry peat powered generation station another 7 years, the environmental lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] called on the Government to end the current ‘legal chaos’ over the industrial extraction of peat which they say is being exploited by both Irish and foreign companies. The group commissioned a satellite survey of exposed peatland in 2010 which revealed thousands of hectares of previously unrecorded extraction across the raised bogs of the midlands.

 

The survey was confirmed by a Department of Environment initiated ground truthing conducted by 20 local authorities in 2013.

 

FIE has recently published an interactive map of the extent of the extraction [1] and a Report on the progress of their campaign [2]. According to the Report, An Bord Pleanala’s determination in 2014 that planning permission was required for these industrial operations led to a Government decision that peat extraction was to be exempted from planning control. Briefing documents supplied to the producers, the European Commission and to FIE by the Department explain that the planning acts are to be revised and only a licence from the EPA will be required in future.

 

‘For two years, each time the producers’ challenges to the Appeal Board’s decision to require planning permission comes before the High Court, the Companies involved are given further stays as the State says new legislation is being prepared’, FIE Director Tony Lowes said. ‘Thousands of hectares of raised bogs are being exploited year after year without either planning permission or industrial licensing because the current Government will not address this legal limbo.’

 

The group has recently begun 8 further challenges to large scale extraction operations, including Bord an Mona, Irish, and foreign companies.

 

‘Our map reveals hundreds of sites, some of them well over 100 hectares in extent, under current industrial extraction. Ironically, preserving our peatlands is the low-hanging fruit for climate change credits. The environmental  impacts are profound, clogging up our river systems with a knock-on effect on fish stocks and wildlife, let alone the increase in downstream flooding. Even more critically, extraction without the necessary controls means organic matter reacts to chlorine in our drinking water, leading to the production of health-threatening trihalomethanes, now affecting over a million consumers of Irish Water.’ [3]

 

‘Today’s decision does nothing to clarify the legal chaos of industrial extraction’, Mr. Lowes concluded.

 

Further Information: Tony Lowes

353 (0) 2774771 / 353 (0)87 2176316

 

[1] https://cl5.carto.com/viz/3181d6c0-b9a0-11e6-8a6b-0ef24382571b/public_map

 

[2] www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/2016_peatlands_review_7.12.16.pdf

 

[3] According to information provided to the European Commission in 2015 by the Irish authorities and quoted in correspondence from the Commission to FIE, 425,000 households are consuming water over the WHO/EU recommended limit. While this figure has been recently reduced, it remains twice the next highest records in the EU-27.

 

 

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