Wednesday 22 May 2019

Irish Peatland group raise concerns over new bypass

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council has further called on Minister Shane Ross to fully investigate the impact the proposed Ardee bypass will have on the historic bogland surrounding the town.

They say that it had come to their attention via a local community group that the 'very last and most easterly raised bog within County Louth and the Republic of Ireland' will be affected by a bypass planned for the town of Ardee. They say the bog has been listed as having a scientific importance since 1981.

'The famous botanist Robert Lloyd Praeger visited the site in 1897 and spent the day there recording wildlife. We are unsure as to how a project with plans to build a road through a pNHA (Natural Heritage Area) can go ahead without the need for an Environmental Impact Assesment.

'IPCC have a number of points to make that highlight the need for proper due screening before this project is started which comes directly under the responsibility of

your department as you are funding it,' they state.

IPCC undertook a survey of the site in 1990 and 1998 and identified a core area for conservation surrounded by a bufferzone of supporting habitat.

'The site represents an asset of considerable importance for County Louth's Natural Heritage and every effort needs to be taken to ensure its protection. In addition, the Great Bog of Ardee features in a landscape study undertaken by the late Professor Frank Mitchell in 1995 and published in the Atlas of the Rural Irish Landscape.'

The group claim there are 'plenty of reasons' the road should not go ahead until there is proper consideration taken into the environmental, hydrological, ecological and historical aspects of the site.

'How is this project allowed to go ahead when every other development is subject to stringent environmental planning laws? The IPCC understand that road safety and congestion may be an issue on the N52 but there is no reason why such an important peatland habitat with a rich natural history should not be protected from developments such as these.

'We would like to hear from your department as to why this road can be built with no due regard to Ireland's environmental planning laws or the National Peatland Strategy,' they add.

The IPCC say the new bypass cuts through part of the bog, which 'supports a good diversity of vegetation communities and plant species and is of ecological value as a

regenerating raised bog, a habitat that is rare in the region". To allow a project to go ahead without proper ecological and environmental screening would go against Ireland's attempt to conserve our dwindling raised bog habitats and halt the loss of biodiversity, which we have signed up to together with other countries across the world.'

They fear that building and drainage work will add to the risk of 'invasive species' impacting on the bog.

'Invasives are a national issue and a real threat to our native wildlife and habitats. This again is another reason that this project should not go ahead unless these risks are assessed and can be screened out,' they explain.

Drogheda Independent