An Taisce welcomes decision to bring industrial peat extraction by large multinational finally within regulatory net
An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, today welcomed Westmeath County Council’s recent decision requiring the multinational Klasmann-Deilmann to cease extracting peat from a large bog adjacent to the company’s Irish HQ, near Edgeworthstown, on the border between Co. Westmeath and Co. Longford.
Klasmann-Deilmann, which claims to be “the world's leading company in the substrate industry”, is a major international operator headquartered in Germany. The company had applied for planning permission and retention permission in respect of its processing factory near Edgeworthstown, which is used for the packaging and processing of peat.
Klasmann-Deilmann argued that the factory and the adjacent bog, which provides peat to the factory, ought to be treated as separate entities and that the extraction activity was not relevant to its planning application. Westmeath County Council disagreed, siding instead with the arguments An Taisce had advanced in the case, and applied the following condition to Klasmann-Deilmann’s permission:
“Peat or any other such material shall not be extracted from the adjoining bog (outlined in blue in the planning application) and used in the processes or any associated activity carried out on the application site (outlined in red), until such time as the peat extraction works on the bog have been fully authorised.
Reason: The impacts of extraction from the adjacent bog on the nearby Natura 2000 sites has not been fully assessed.”
The nearby Natura 2000 site (i.e. EU protected area) in question is Glen Lough Special Protection Area for birds, a mere 160 metres away, which hosts an internationally important Whooper Swan population. So impacted is the protected area by drainage that there is now little open water in the “lough”, except during flooding in winter months.
Westmeath County Council’s decision was closely followed by notification that Klasmann-Deilmann will now be applying to the EPA for an IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) licence in respect of extraction activities at four bogs in counties Longford and Westmeath, including the bog adjacent to its HQ. This follows a major push by An Taisce in recent months to have industrial peat extraction sites regulated by the EPA.
A spokesperson for An Taisce commented, “Peat extraction is a hugely unsustainable activity for all sorts of reasons, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and adverse impacts on water quality. We applaud Westmeath County Council’s decision in this case, and we welcome Klasmann-Deilmann’s very belated decision to apply for an IPPC licence – we assume that the company will be making similar applications for its other sites in Ireland, albeit that the authorities, incredibly, do not seem to know precisely where these are.
For much too long large peat extracting companies have operated largely free from environmental regulation in Ireland. Bord na Mona is the only peat company to hold IPPC licences for its activities, and the vast majority of sites operated by large peat companies, including Bord na Mona, do not have planning permission, and have never been subject to environmental impact assessment. These are shocking facts, but the net is beginning to close.
At a time when domestic turf cutters are being asked to cease cutting on raised bog SACs (i.e. the most important sites ecologically), the very least these large companies could do is comply with the basic regulations which apply in respect of undesignated bogs.”
For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce +353 87 2411995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
Details of Westmeath County Council’s decision, handed down on 12 September, are here: http://www.westmeathcoco.ie/ePlan41/FileRefDetails.aspx?file_number=136094&LASiteID=0
For more on Glen Lough SPA: http://www.npws.ie/media/npwsie/content/images/protectedsites/sitesynopsis/SY004045.pdf