Progress Report on the work of the Peatlands Council 2019
IPCC have been one of the stakeholders on the Peatlands Council since it was set up in 2011. This report is kept up to date following meetings of the Peatlands Council. Significant milestones reached and progress made at the following meetings have been included:
- 25th February 2020
- 22nd October 2019
- 22nd July 2019
- 24th September 2018
- 25th June 2018
- 12th June 2017
- 13th December 2016
- 8th September 2016
- 10th June 2016
- 8th February 2016
|Raised Bog SAC Management Plan||Site Specific Conservation Objectives and Technical Restoration Plans for the 53 SAC raised bogs are completed. The final draft Raised Bog SAC Management Plan was presented to the Peatlands Council at the September 2016 meeting. IPCC reviewed the document and made a submission. This document was published in 2017. The plan can be downloaded from the National Parks and Wildlife Service website from this link|
|National Peatlands Strategy||The completed National Peatlands Strategy for Ireland was published in 2015 and is available to download from the National Parks and Wildlife Service website from this link.
Following lobbying of Minister Heather Humphreys by IPCC we are delighted to report that the first report on the implementation of the Peatlands Strategy was published in 2018 by the Peatlands Strategy Implementation Group. IPCC inputted to this report in the areas of education and land use planning. A copy of the report can be downloaded here. The second report is due from the implementation group in 2020. The National Peatlands Strategy is due for updating and revision in 2020 in light of the priority being given to climate crisis adaptation and the importance of peatlands in this regard.
|A Review of the Use of Peat in the Horticultural Industry||One of the actions in the National Peatland Strategy was to carry out a review of the use of peat in the Horticulture Industry. A consulation paper has been published with a closing date for submission on the 20th January 202o. Please follow this link for details. IPCC’s submission can be viewed from this link. All submissions are due to go on line in 2020.|
|Blanket Bog SACs||National Parks and Wildlife Service research is focusing at present on identifying the impacts of turf cutting on blanket bogs and pin pointing sensitive habitats. A programme for stakeholder engagement is to be developed in addition to a regulatory system for turf cutting in this habitat. IPCC have made blanket bogs a key campaign issue and are pushing for the publication of assessment reports which have been compiled by the NPWS. These are expected to be released in 2017. IPCC continue to work in this area and have written to the Minister urging her to make increased efforts to preserve blanket bog habitat. We have also launched a citizen science campaign asking users to inform us of their experience of blanket bogs. To get involved please follow this link. It is likely that a scientific research programme will be funded by the NPWS in 2017 to investigate the impacts of the various uses of blanket bog SACs and NHAs. There has been no progress reported on blanket bogs at Peatlands Council meetings in 2019.|
|Raised Bog Natural Heritage Areas||The Natural Heritage Area network supports the designated Raised Bog SACs helping Ireland to meet the national conservation target for active raised bog of 3600ha. In 2014 the National Parks and Wildlife Service re-configured the Natural Heritage Area Network taking account of habitat quality and the number of turf cutters on each NHA site. They proposed to retain 36 of the original NHA network sites either fully or partially and to designate 25 new peatlands as NHAs. In parallel with this action the Government propose to de-designate 39 Natural Heritage Area sites in full and part of a further 7 Natural Heritage Area sites from the original network of 75 sites. New legislation to allow for the de-designation of NHAs was developed in 2016 but is still to be passed by Government and the Seanad. Management plans for the sites in the re-configured NHA network of 61 sites will be developed in 2016. The last turf cutting season on these sites will be 2016. The National Programme for Government published in May 2016 has undertaken to complete this process. Owners in the new sites to be designated have still to be informed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. There was no update on these important issues at the June 2017, September 2018, July and October 2019 meetings of the Peatlands Council. At the 2020 meeting a presentation on the development of restoration and drainage management plans for 36 of the NHA’s was presented. These are to be finalised in 2020.|
for Turf Cutters
|To date the Irish Government have paid out €32 million in compensation to turf cutters in SAC and NHA raised bogs since the scheme started in 2011. Details of the compensation scheme for both raised bog SACs and NHAs is available from the NPWS website at this link. To date (22nd October 2019) 3695 turf cutters have opted for the annuity scheme, 386 for relocation to alternative sites in order to cut turf and 304 turf deliveries have been made. Turf cutters have been relocated off five of the raised bog SACs to date at a cost of €6.5 million. NPWS are also in the process of seeking planning permission to develop relocation sites for turf cutters in Galway, Roscommon and Kildare. This action is a public test of the policy of offering relocation as part of the compensation programme and will undoubtedly lead to concern.|
|Raised Bog SAC Management||In 2015 the European Commission approved funding for a project entitled “Restoring Active Raised Bog in Ireland’s SAC Network 2016-2020” (LIFE14/NAT/IE/000032) worth over €5.4 million under the LIFE scheme. The work will concentrate on restoring 752ha of active, peat forming raised bog habitat on 12 raised bog SAC’s in the Irish midlands and improving the supporting habitat in 2649ha of raised bog. In addition to site restoration the project hopes to deliver community engagement. This project is up and running and can be followed through its Facebook site here. IPCC are on the steering committee of this LIFE project and are meeting with the project team four times each year to hear progress and to offer guidance as needed. The sites to be restored are shown in the table below. The project status in February 2020 is that restoration has been completed on 9 sites and the project is likely to be extended into 2021.
IPCC are anxious to see management plans being written and implemented for all designated sites, not just those that are funded through the LIFE project.
|€5 million for peatland restoration 2020||The Minister for Finance announced a budget of €5 million for peatland restoration in 2020. The funds are coming from the Carbon Tax. The National Parks and Wildlife Service are planning a large scale restoration project involving up to 9 different raised bogs using this budget and tenders have been issued for the works required.|
|Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme||In 2018 The Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, was established by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, T.D. Funding is available to encourage local peatland communities, local groups, local schools and individuals to carry out restoration and education projects focusing on raised bogs. In 2018 €137,000 was awarded to 12 groups while in 2019 €131,000 was awarded to 13 groups under this scheme.
The 2020 scheme is soon to be announced and the programme may be extended to include raised and blanket bogs and fens. For more information follow this link.
|Energy Efficiency Scheme 2017||The Department of Communications, Climate and the Environment are to launch a new energy efficiency scheme targeted at participants in the Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme. 50% grants are to be given towards the cost of a deep home renovation with energy efficiency being the top priority. The scheme will be run by the SEAI. The Department intend to link up deep retrofitting of homes with the turf cutting compensation funding and grants from the SEAI to make it easier for communities to carbon-proof their homes.|
|Large-scale peat extraction regulation||In 2019 the Minister at the Department of Communications, Climate and the Environment and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government introduced new regulations for large-scale peat extraction. This was challenged in the High Court by Friends of the Irish Environment who won the case. Mr. Justice Garrett Simons found the regulations were illegal because in essence they made peat extraction exempt from planning control (read his judgement in detail here) . As a result Bord na Móna must apply for Leave of Substitute Consent from An Bord Pleanála. Should this be granted by An Bord Pleanála, the company will have to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments for all of their works retrospectively. All other peat development will be controlled by the Planning Authorities.|
Have your say in the Future of Peatlands in Ireland
On the 9th December 2014, IPCC met members of the Peatland Strategy Implementation Group as part of our representation on the Peatlands Council. On the agenda was the revised draft Peatlands Strategy. The meeting was attended by representatives of all Government Departments whose work influences the conservation and wise use of peatlands in Ireland. During the meeting, the group went through the draft strategy line by line. Recommendations made by IPCC are being taken into account in the final draft. Once the document is completed it will go to Government as a Memorandum for approval and launch. This is expected to occur in January/February 2015.
Chapters in the plan have been reviewed and expanded in relation to climate change, air quality, wind energy development and planning issues. In addition a time frame and review mechanism have been built into the plan.
Minister Jimmy Deenihan published three important documents in draft format concerning the future conservation and management of peatlands in Ireland on the 15th January 2014. These were:
- The Draft Peatland Strategy for Ireland
- The Draft Raised Bog SAC Management Plan and Appendices
- The Draft Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Areas
You can download pdf versions of the documents from this link or from the links above. IPCC urge our supporters to review these documents and to make your concerns known to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on or before the 18th April 2014.
- Raised Bog SAC Management Plan and the Raised Bog NHA Review Submission
- Peatland Strategy Submission
IPCC would like to thank all those who made submissions to the public consultation on the National Peatland Strategies. Your effort is extremely valuable and every submission helps to sway opinion. The Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht have acknowledged receipt of 98 out of a total of 1500 submissions by letter or email from IPCC supporters.
If you do not have time to study the three documents above and would like to make a submission, IPCC invite you to print out, sign and post the following generic peatland strategies submission or email it to the addresses below. Thank You for your support.
IPCC’s Involvement in the development of the Peatland Strategies
IPCC have been involved in the preparation of the Peatland Strategy document through our participation on the Peatlands Council since 2011.
We are also familiar with the scientific knowledge that lies behind the production of the Raised Bog SAC Management Plan as we are members of the project steering committee.
The review of the Raised Bog Natural Heritage Areas suggests the setting up of a new network of raised bog sites including areas that have significantly lower numbers of turf cutters. This plan will mean the de-designation of existing NHAs should it be approved. This issue needs to be examined very carefully as such a move could precipitate a serious further loss of raised bog habitat in Ireland.
We will be happy to discuss your concerns with you and to provide guidance if we can to help you formulate a submission to Minister Jimmy Deenihan.
Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 045-860133
Written submissions can be made directly to: The Peatlands Policy Unit, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 7 Ely Place, Dublin 2.
Electronic submissions can be sent to: email@example.com
Irish Peatland Conservation Council, Bog of Allen Nature Centre, Lullymore, Rathangan, Co. Kildare, R51 V293, Ireland. T: +353-45-860133; E: firstname.lastname@example.org