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






[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.



Petition succeeds as County Clare surf spot is saved


Advocates for Doughmore Beach earned a symbolic victory after news broke that an application to build a giant seawall was withdrawn.

You may remember a great deal of hubbub a few months back when a Trump-owned golf course in County Clare, Ireland, proposed building a massive seawall along Doughmore Beach. The plan was to prop up parts of the golf course threatened by erosion and rising seas with a 2-mile long rock seawall. Problem was, to local surfers and environmentalists, the proposed seawall threatened traditional sand movement patterns and had the potential to destroy a well-surfed sandbar at Doughmore. Lots of local residents were also worried that the wall would permanently scar the beach.

In an incomprehensible bit of irony, the Trump team’s application for the seawall referenced protecting the property from potential issues from rising seas, even as presidential candidate Trump routinely called climate change a “hoax” (The mind reels).

Even so, hundreds of locals are employed at the course, and they in turn were concerned that if the wall didn’t get built, the course would close and they’d lose their jobs. Trump is pretty popular in County Clare circles after bringing employment and tourist cash to an off-the-beaten path part of Ireland that can struggle financially.

Groups like Save The Waves began circulating a petition to put pressure on County Clare administrators to deny permission for the Trump International course to build the wall. Over 100,000 people signed the petition, in Ireland and internationally. The effort paid off when last week, it was announced, according to Yahoo News, that the application for the sea wall “was withdrawn by the applicant.”

Irish charger Fergal Smith called the decision a “victory for common sense.”

A sort of compromise was struck, and a much smaller, less intrusive wall be be built, and two holes of the golf course will be moved further from the sea.

I checked in with Nick Mucha from Save The Waves who helped spearhead this campaign. Here’s what he had to say:

“This is a rare and inspiring example of many people working together to overcome the long odds. Trump’s decision to walk away from the seawall proposal is a huge milestone for the #NatureTrumpsWalls campaign. I hope that the surf community takes note that if we work together for the things that we hold dear, we can have a meaningful impact. However, our work continues as we must analyze the next series of proposals and ensure they do not pose any risk to the unique coastal resources of Doughmore Beach.”

Love it or hate it, the incoming Trump administration is about to test the resolve of environmentally-conscious surfers across the U.S., and, potentially, as the Irish case shows, internationally too. Efforts to save Doughmore Beach show that concentrated action by a committed group of surfers and activists can, believe it or not, affect change when you might otherwise least expect it.












Trump’s Irish Wall plan scrapped


Donald Trump’s proposed 3 km sea wall at his International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland in Doonbeg, Co, Clare, has been scrapped, according to new plans revealed last night.


At the opening of the Public Consultation on revised plans for Donald Trump’s coastal defences at Doonbeg County Clare last night new plans were put on public display that showed that permission to construct a continuous 2.8 kilometre wall has been abandoned.


According to those who attended last night’s Public Consultation, held at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland in Doonbeg, a new planning permission is to be submitted shortly which will propose sheet metal piling and rock armour for 650 metres at one end and 200 metres at the other end of the dune system. Two holes will be relocated inland.


Save the Waves, who sponsored a petition that now has more than 100,000 signatures opposed to the original Wall, called it a ‘Good News Story’. Director of Programmes Nick Mucha said that ‘This is a defining milestone for the campaign. It demonstrates the power of the international community to protect our coasts. Save the Waves and its Irish partners will continue to monitor the new proposals and remain engaged to guide them towards a responsible solution, but today more than 100,000 people can celebrate the fact that the original ill-conceived sea wall proposal has been scrapped.’


‘The threat of Trump’s Irish wall has hung over Doonbeg like a dark cloud for more than two years’, FIE Director Tony Lowes said. ‘There is no doubt the original proposal would have stopped the development of the dune system and scoured the beach, leading to a loss of one of the finest amenities on the west coast. While the sense of relief today is enormous – as is our gratitude to the international community- the current proposal will require detailed analysis in terms of the Conservation Objectives – and the impact on the protected snail – before we can comment on it.’


Leading Irish Surfer Fergal Smith, who attended the Public Information Day, said ‘There has been a serious re think on the original wall which is good to see. It's still a wall which is always a concern so it's important to keep a close eye developments.’



Contacts: Tony Lowes Friends of the Irish Environment 353 (0)27 74771

 Nick Mucha, Save the Waves 001 831-345-4837

Save The Waves is working alongside prominent Irish and European environmental and surfing groups to defeat Mr. Trump’s proposal. The coalition of organizations includes Surfrider Foundation Europe, Friends of The Irish Environment, Irish Surfing Association, West Coast Surf Club, Friends of The Earth Ireland, and the Irish Seal Sanctuary.




14 DECEMBER 2016


Boycott campaign challenges organic standards on salmon


The Boycott Farmed Salmon’s 2016 Christmas campaign has added the word ‘ORGANIC’ to its campaign’s name after the Minister refused to enforce the EU Regulations which require that whenever chemical medicines are used on organic products ‘treated stock shall be clearly identifiable’. [Note 1]


According to the 10 Irish environmental groups that support the campaign, the requirement is contained in the European Union regulations governing organic production. Deputy Eamon O’Cuiv raised the issue of chemical treatment in the Oireachtas last year when, referring to the chemical treatments, he said that he ‘will not touch farmed salmon because it is a totally unnatural product.’


In 2015, the campaign published a pre-slaughter Department of Agriculture laboratory analysis that showed the presence of 10 chemicals, 6 approved by Marine Harvest, the Norwegian multi-national that produces almost all of Ireland’s organic farmed salmon.


‘However, the Minister for Agriculture claims that the regulation does not mean that the treated stock shall be clearly identified to the consumer. He claims that the identification required is solely for the benefit of the producers to ensure withdrawal periods are met’, the campaign spokesman explained. [Note 2]


The Food Safety Authority initially told the groups that ‘It is a fair point to make – that is treated stock are to be clearly identifiable.’ [Note 3] But after consulting with Department of Agriculture, Food and the Maine and with the Marine Institute, they advised the campaign and the Minister that this was ‘an issue of record keeping, not labelling of packaging. ‘Organic operators meet this requirement’ the Minister told the Oireachtas in a written parliamentary reply earlier this year, ‘by maintaining information at their premises’. [Note 2]


The campaign spokesman said this made no sense. ‘The Regulations state clearly that ‘treated stock shall be clearly identifiable’. Farmed salmon are treated with a range of chemicals which while approved by the regulatory authorities the consumer may not wish to ingest himself.’ [Note 3]


‘The purpose of organic regulations are so that consumers can differentiate chemically treated products from products that have not been chemically treated. We urge the public to boycott organic farmed salmon this Christmas if they have any respect for those who buy and sell organic products in a relationship of trust with the public.’



Billy Smith 353 (0) 86 3511628

Tony Lowes 353 (0) 27 74771   /  353 (0)87 2176316

Or any of the supporting organisations below

Campaign Website:



[1] COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 710/2009 of 5 August 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, as regards laying down detailed rules on organic aquaculture animal and seaweed production.

Section 7, Article 25 t ‘Veterinary treatments’ (5) of Regulation 710/2009 states: ‘Treated stock shall be clearly identifiable.’


[2] Clare Daly, Dublin Fingal, United Left. Written answers, Tuesday, 28 June 2016. [17940/16]


[3] Medicines Positive List. Marine Harvest list chemical veterinary products approved for use in the production of farmed organic salmon.


Environmental Groups supporting the Boycott

An Taisce 087 2411995

Federation of Irish Salmon and Sea Trout Anglers (FISSTA) 074 9730300

Forest Friends 087 619 8265

Friends of the Earth 01-6394652

Friends of the Irish Environment 087 2176316

Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages 086 3511628

Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture 00 44 7771541826

Irish Federation of Seal Anglers  085 7339040

Irish Seal Sanctuary 01 8354487

No Salmon Farms at Sea 087 7673157

Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture 0044 7771 541826

Salmon Watch Ireland 086 826 9222

Save Bantry Bay 087 7949 227

The Woodland League  087 9933157

Verification and technical support: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 087  2176316

Revised 17.12.16




Activity at Castleforbes under investigation

Alleged felling of protected trees

 The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine has confirmed that it is investigating the alleged felling of oak trees at a w woodland in Newtownforbes earlier this year.

The oaks aged between 60 and 80 years old were specifically protected under instructions issued with a 2014 Felling Licence at Castleforbes.

The protection was imposed at the request of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) during the consultation period before the licence was issued.

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) made a complaint in rpect of the matter and the issue was brought forward by way of a Dail Question through Independent Deputy Clare Daly, TD.

‘What went on a Castleforbes is a breakdown in the system for ancient forests in Ireland, even though they may have the highest level of protection possible in national and EU law’, a spokesman for FIE said.

‘If these heritage woodlands can not be protected, woe betide the rest of Ireland’s vanishing native woodlands’.

FIE also claimed that it first reported to the Minister that the relevant licence allowed the taking of only ‘poor quality stems’ but now understood that the trees destroyed at Castleforbes included prime mature timber.

‘On May 16 we wrote again informing the Minister of the existence of a Report confirming the felling of mature oaks at Castleforbes prepared by the NPWS’, the spokesman continued.

‘The Report, prepared by the NPWS for the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht in December 2015, was intended to inform a reply to written parliamentary Questions from Longford-Westmeath TD James Bannon questioning protection of this ancient woodland.

‘It detailed the felling of oak, ash, and beech and stated that most oak were between 60 and 80 years old, with the occasional older trees.’


By Aisling Kiernan


Longford Leader 3 December 2016