Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan has said she has sought further clarification from Bord na Móna (BnM) following the company’s response to concerns raised by her in July with respect to an application for substitute consent for historic peat extraction.
The Independent TD had sought assurances from BnM about the legal basis of historic peat extraction after it emerged that the company was making an application to An Bord Pleanála to ‘regularise the planning status of peat extraction works and all associated bog development works that were carried out within these parts of the Allen Bog Group located on the borders of counties Offaly and Laois until it’s cessation.’
In a response issued to Deputy Nolan BnM have noted that ‘there exists a complex planning regulatory background associated with historic peat extraction,’ and as such, ‘Bord na Móna (BnM) has decided to take a prudent and transparent approach by making substitute consent applications for Garryhinch and Garrymore bogs which facilitate a remedial assessment of historic peat extraction in order to support the continued progress towards Ireland’s journey to net zero, whilst continuing in its commitment to support local communities through provision of sustainable employment opportunities, improved biodiversity and developed amenities.’
This has not satisfied the Independent TD however, who has now written to BnM seeking additional clarification:
“While I appreciate the engagement by BnM, it has to be said that simply stating that there exists a ‘complex planning regulatory background’ associated with historic peat extraction does not advance us very far,” said Deputy Nolan.
“All planning in Ireland is complex, so too is the regulation governing it!’
“What I want to know now is-1. Has an application been made/submitted to ABP or is that process ongoing? 2. Why did BnM not make such application sooner if there was an awareness that the existing position could be interpreted as less than transparent or imprudent from a planning/regulatory perspective? 3. Has BnM made any assessment on what it intends to do if ABP reject the application for substitute consent?”
“We are not talking here about a marginal case of potential planning irregularities. We are talking about the legal basis for vast, industrial scale peat extraction from the early 1950s to 2020 when extraction ceased.”
“I look forward to more positive and constructive engagement with BNM on this matter,” concluded Deputy Nolan.