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Semi-state accused of declaring Brexit for 80,000 hectares

category national | environment | press release author Thursday June 18, 2020 20:27author by foie Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 16th June 2020

Bord na Móna ‘Enforcement Holiday’ flies in the face of a High Court Judgment
Semi-state accused of declaring Brexit for 80,000 hectares

An ‘enforcement holiday’ currently being exercised by Bord na Mona to allow industrial harvesting to continue this year across its bogs ‘flies in the face of a High Court Judgment’, according to the environmental charity Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE].

FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
PRESS RELEASE
TUESDAY 16 JUNE 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bord na Móna ‘Enforcement Holiday’ flies in the face of a High Court Judgment
Semi-state accused of declaring Brexit for 80,000 hectares

An ‘enforcement holiday’ currently being exercised by Bord na Mona to allow industrial harvesting to continue this year across its bogs ‘flies in the face of a High Court Judgment’, according to the environmental charity Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE].

FIE, who conducted site visits over the weekend to confirm reports they have received over the last two weeks, has published photos and videos on its Facebook page showing full scale harvesting over the weekend at Ballaghurt Bog in County Offaly, part of the Blackwater Bog Group supplying the company’s briquette factory at Derrinlough.

FIE Director Tony Lowes explained that ‘An Bord Pleanala ruled in 2013 industrial extraction of peat on sites of 30 hectares required planning permission, a decision unsuccessfully challenged in the Courts for 5 years until dismissed on 7 December 2018. Next month the Government published a Statutory Instrument purporting to exempt industrial extraction from planning permission. This was subsequently struck down on 20 September 2019 after a further FIE challenge. [See RTE link below].

‘The failed Statutory Instrument gave industrial cutters up to 3 years to continue work, a proposal characterised by Justice Garrett Simons as an ‘enforcement holiday’ that undermined European Environmental law. Calling the legislation a ‘retrograde step’, Justice Simons wrote that ‘It cannot be said that the state has an arguable defence’. No Environmental Impact Assessment had ever been completed on Bord na Mona’s works, a requirement under EU law.’

‘Bord na Móna has applied for Substitute Consent for this site and a decision is due in October but this will only authorise past activity and the semi-state body will still have to apply subsequently for planning permission to do any works. Notwithstanding the High Court, Bord na Móna has continued to extract peat for its power plants, horticulture, and briquette factory’.

Justice Simons further found the shortcomings of the legislation - to ensure that any assessment of a site where peat is extracted on a large scale is both prospective and retrospective - were similar to the previous planning legislation which he said had been condemned by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Mr. Lowes said that ‘Callers have expressed outrage to us that Bord na Móna has been refusing to allow individuals to continue cutting on their bogs when ignoring the High Court ruling itself. It appears Bord na Mona has declared Brexit for its 80,000 hectares.’

Video:
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfTheIrishEnvironment/

See also RTE News:
Environmental group wins landmark case over peat extraction
https://www.rte.ie/news/courts/2019/0920/1077228-peat-bogs-court/

Comment:
Tony Lowes: +353 (0)87 2176316
Daithí Ó hÉalaithe (Irish language) +353 (0)87 6178852

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17813-bord-na-mona-enforcement-holiday-flies-in-the-face-of-a-high-court-judgment
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