Peat extraction in Ireland (Petition No. 755/2010)www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.net 19 September 2012
Why we are here (again)... Update regarding developments since we first appeared before Petitions Committee, inCloonchambers bog, Co. Roscommon November 2011.Priority habitat Natura 2000 site
Issue 1: Peat extraction in raised bog Natura 2000 sites DiggerDigger loads peat into Peat is spread to dryspreading machine for burning in winter
Issue 2: Unassessed peat extraction by major companiesoutside Natura 2000 sites For: horticulture; three peat-fired power stations; and as fuel for domestic heating No planning permission, no EIAECJ in 1999: Nothing“Ireland has not denied E.g. Bord na Móna hasthat no project for the (Irish),extraction of peat...has Klasmann Deilmann changed (German),been the subject Pindstrup Mosebrug sinceof an impact assessment”(C-392/96) (Danish) 1999!
Development 1: The Commission’s roleFebruary 1999: Irish government announced a 10 year “derogation”to allow peat extraction to continue “for domestic use” in Natura2000 sites. In clear breach of the Habitats Directive. What happened during those 10 years? “...there has been a 99% loss of the original area of actively growing raised bog in Ireland, and one-third of the remaining 1% has been lost in the last 10 years” (CBD, 2010) January 2011: Commission finally begins legal proceedings.10 June 2011: “the Commission would like to refute any insinuationthat....any political interference has resulted in it failing to carry out itsduties in relation to peat extraction and EU environmental legislation.”
Question 1: Commission, guardian of the Treaties?Former Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, 6 March 2012: “It isabsolutely true to say we never received a ten yearderogation from the authorities in Brussels becausethey were never going to agree to one. What we did— what Governments need to do in such instances —was we travelled to Brussels to tell the officials wewould offer a ten year derogation to domestic bogcutters and arrange to remove the commercial turfcutters who accounted for a figure of 96% of the effort,if memory serves me correctly. The European Unionstated it was not going to extend an official derogation,but that it would not interfere in [our] providing for theintroduction of a ten year period.” Éamon Ó Cuív Minister from 1997 to 2001Will politics interfere (again) in 2013 when Irelandholds the Presidency of the Council of the EU (Januaryto June, coinciding with the turf cutting season)?
Development 2: Aerialsurvey report in May 2012In total, at least 23 (of 53)priority habitat raised bogNatura 2000 sites have been cutby machines this year. 29 May 2012: Monivea bog, Co. Galway . Irish authorities “monitored” the cutting but did not intervene (Irish Times, 2012).
Question 2: What effective steps did the Irish government or theCommission take to protect the 23 priority habitat Natura 2000sites cut by machines in 2012? What will happen in 2013? Mouds bog, Co. Kildare Question 3: Why did the Commission not bring an action for interim measures (injunction) in 2012?
(Non)Development 3: Peatlands outside Natura 2000 • No effective action to address peat extraction outside protected areas in Ireland. No planning permission, no EIA. Extraction for horticulture • In terms of scale, Bord na Móna Extraction for 3 peat-fired (semi-state company) alone power stations extracts 3 million tonnes per year (EPA, 2011)! • Question 4: When will we see action to bring these activities into line with EU law?
Is this to be the fate ofall Ireland’s raised bogs?29 May 2012: A tiny island of bog is all that remains amidst asea of cutting at Moannakeeba West, an undesignated bognear Lough Derg, Co. Galway.
ReferencesEPA (2011) BOGLAND: Sustainable Ó Cuív (2012) Statement to the Dáil, 6 March 2012.management of peatlands in Ireland. http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2012/03/06/00025.aspwww.epa.ieCBD (2010) Ireland: 4th national report to the CBD.http://www.cbd.int/doc/world/ie/ie-nr-04-en.pdfIrish Times (2012) Turf-cutters defying ban warned ofprosecutions.http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0601/1224317058294.html