New peat extraction regulations challenged in High Court

Stock photo
Stock photo

Tim Healy

An environmental group has brought a High Court challenge against the State over new regulations that allow for the industrial extraction of peat from bogs. 

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) claims the new regulations mean that large scale peat extraction does not require planning permission, and instead must be licenced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

FIE claims the effect of the new regulations will create a retention mechanism for the unauthorised industrial extraction of peat and allow this activity to continue for many years in an unassessed and unregulated fashion.  

The group claims the regulations fail to comply with several EU directives on the protection of the Environment. 

FIE's action is against the Minister for Communication, Climate Action and Environment, the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government, as well as Ireland and the Attorney General. 

The group seeks orders including quashing the making of the regulations by both the Ministers in January of this year. 

The regulations are known as the 2019 European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment (Peat Extraction) Regulations, and the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) regulations 2019.   

FIE claims the majority of Irish industrial peatlands are operated by Bord Na Mona, which has been licensed by the EPA since 1999.

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It claims the remainder of the industrial peat operations, which supplies approximately 500,000 m3 of horticultural peat into the Uk market, have been operating without planning permission or licences from the EPA. 

The group says none of the large scale industrial activity on Irish bogs has undergone proper environmental assessments. 

The unregulated industrial extraction can affect climate change, wild species, archaeology and human health, it also says.  

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex parte (one side only represented) basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan. 

The case comes back next month.

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