Leamonaghan Bog.

Bord na Móna bids to ‘regularise planning’ of past local peat extraction

Bord na Móna has lodged a new application which it said aims to "to regularise the planning status" of "the historic peat extraction activity" that took place at a bog in the West Offaly/South Westmeath region.

On April 22 last, the company applied to An Bord Pleanála for "leave to apply for substitute consent for peat extraction, and all associated bog development works," at Lemanaghan Bog, which is northeast of Ferbane and forms part of the Boora Bog Group.

Substitute consent applications have been described as effectively representing a type of 'retention planning permission' for certain developments.

When contacted by this newspaper, a spokesperson for Bord na Móna reiterated that the company had ceased all peat extraction on its lands, and that this application did not seek to facilitate any future peat harvesting activity.

"Bord na Móna can confirm that the company has sought leave to apply for substitute consent for its peatlands at Lemanaghan to support the company's mission to deliver clean energy, carbon storage and other climate solutions," said the spokesperson, in a statement issued last Thursday.

"In order to facilitate the development of these essential solutions, the company is seeking to regularise the planning status of the historic peat extraction activity that occurred at Lemanaghan."

It went on to say that Bord na Móna was "a climate solutions company, fully focused on renewable energy generation, recycling, peatlands restoration and the development of new low carbon enterprises."

"In January 2021, the company permanently ended all peat harvesting activities on its lands. These applications will not seek to facilitate any future peat harvesting preparations or activities by the company at Lemanaghan," the statement said.

An Bord Pleanála is due to decide on the company's application for leave to apply for substitute consent by August 25 next.

The substitute consent procedure was introduced in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010, and provided a mechanism in specific circumstances by which permission to retain a development affected by the European Union's Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) may be granted.

In a 2020 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down two provisions of Irish planning law, relating to a substitute consent procedure, for being in breach of the European Union's EIA Directive.