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Warning of ‘cowboy contractors’ still ignoring peat planning regulations as Bord na Mona ends all works

category national | environment | press release author Saturday January 16, 2021 17:26author by foie - Friends of the Irish Environment Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 15th Jan 2021

PRESS RELEASE - Friends of the Irish Environment - 15 January 2021

For Immediate Release

Formal end to the Bord na Mona’s peat harvesting ‘major milestone’
Warning of ‘cowboy contractors’ still ignoring peat planning regulations

The decision by Bord na Mona to end all peat harvesting marked a ‘major milestone’ in Ireland’s progress towards controlling greenhouse gases and biodiversity loss, Friends of the Irish Environment said in a statement today.

PRESS RELEASE
Friends of the Irish Environment
15 January 2021

For Immediate Release
Formal end to the Bord na Mona’s peat harvesting ‘major milestone’
Warning of ‘cowboy contractors’ still ignoring peat planning regulations

The decision by Bord na Mona to end all peat harvesting marked a ‘major milestone’ in Ireland’s progress towards controlling greenhouse gases and biodiversity loss, Friends of the Irish Environment said in a statement today.

FIE brought the issue to the planning systemin 2009, commissioning a satellite survey in 2010 that provided the Department of the Environment with a list of 126 potential extraction sites of over 30 hectares in 18 counties for which local authorities had no records. A 2013 Survey undertaken by the Department through Local Authorities found most of these required planning permission. In two presentations to the EU Petitions Committee in 2011 and 2012, the operations were held to be the ‘largest unregulated land use in the EU’.

A 2013 ruling by An Bord Pleanala that industrial extraction was no longer exempt from planning permission was challenged by the operators in the Courts, leading to a five-year delay which ended in 2018. Legislation then brought in proposing to authorise continuing extraction was struck down by FIE in 2019, leading to 8 applications for ‘substitute consent’ by Bord na Mona to An Bord Pleanala which were under challenge FIE.

FIE has been informed today that Bord na Mona is withdrawing all 8 applications due to be heard next week in the High Court, stating that they will ‘cease any remaining harvesting preparations, including planning and substitute consent applications.’

While welcoming the state’s body’s decision as a ‘major milestone’, Director Tony Lowes said that ‘other operators, some with household names like Westlands Horticulture, have given no such assurances, and the pace of the cowboy contractors’ excavation of whole bogs for the mushroom industry continues as we speak – even in counties like Cavan and even on bogs where An Bord Pleanala has made it clear that the operation needs planning permission.

Ending peat extraction has long been known to be the ‘low hanging fruit’ of greenhouse gas reductions, Mr. Lowes explained, ‘as it is not only are responsible for emission when the bog is drained but again when the peat is used’.

Local Authorities must take action to bring an end to the actions of rogue contractors to accord with the State’s decision to end their own activities and the State must make sure that not only the workers but those in fuel poverty are supported through a just transition to a sustainable society.

ENDS
Contact:
Tony Lowes, 087 2176316 / 027 73131
Copyright © 2021 Friends of the Irish Environment, All rights reserved.
Press Release

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