Tuesday 18 June 2019

Planning needed to harvest peat: court

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Tim Healy

Two peat extraction firms have been refused permission to appeal a significant finding that their activities are no longer exempt development.

The companies had claimed the finding would effectively bring the industry to "a standstill" with implications for 11,000 jobs while planning applications are put in train.

In a ruling yesterday, the High Court's Mr Justice Charles Meenan refused leave to appeal his February judgment upholding An Bord Pleanála's decision the activities are not, after September 2012, exempt development.

The Board decision was made in April 2013 after Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) queried the development status of the operations. Separate proceedings were then brought by the affected companies, Bulrush Horticulture, and by Westland Horticulture, Westmeath Peat and Cavan Peat.

Mr Justice Meenan dismissed both challenges in a judgment which means, from September 2012, all commercial peat harvesting in Ireland is unauthorised unless it has planning permission.

He found a "sound legal basis" for the Board's decision that the firms required an Environmental Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessment for the works.

Both companies sought permission to appeal but their applications were refused by the judge.

He accepted the outcome of the case has "important and far-reaching" implications for the peat harvesting industry.

He said there can be points of law of exceptional public importance which are not so uncertain as to require a ruling from the Court of Appeal.

Irish Independent

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