Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Planning Issues

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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1305. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if the harvesting of peat for the garden and mushroom growing industry will be permitted for 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6078/20]

Photo of Eoghan MurphyEoghan Murphy (Dublin Bay South, Fine Gael)
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Development, unless specifically exempted under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the 2000 Act), or the associated Regulations, requires planning permission.  In the case of the harvesting of peat, Class 17 of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended (the Regulations), provides that peat extraction in a new or extended area of less than 10 hectares, or peat extraction in a new or extended area of 10 hectares or more, where the drainage of the bogland commenced prior to the coming into force of those Regulations, is exempted development. Such exempted development is subject to a restriction under section 4(4) of the 2000 Act which states that exempted development status is lost if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under the EIA Directive or Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive is required in respect of that development.

Where there is a question as to what in any particular case is or is not development, or is or is not exempted development, it is open to any person on payment of the prescribed fee to request a written declaration under Section 5 of the 2000 Act from the relevant planning authority, or from An Bord Pleanála (the Board) on referral. Any development that is not exempted development being carried out without planning permission or that does not comply with the terms of a planning permission is unauthorised development and may be subject to enforcement action by a planning authority.

In terms of unauthorised development requiring EIA or Appropriate Assessment, regularisation may be sought by way of the ‘substitute consent’ process set out at Part XA of the 2000 Act, which allows development that should have been the subject of environmental assessment, but was not, to be regularised where appropriate. In this context, I understand that An Bord Pleanála has in recent months received a number of applications for leave to apply for substitute consent in respect of peat extraction activities. It should be noted that except for certain quarry cases, where substitute consent is granted, such consent only regularises the past work that has been carried out and would not permit further development. A separate planning permission would be required for future development, in addition to the substitute consent.

Under Section 30 of the 2000 Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular planning case with which a planning authority or the Board, is or may be concerned.  An Bord Pleanála is an independent statutory body assigned responsibility to determine planning appeals and certain other matters under the 2000 Act, including applications for substitute consent.

In addition to the planning system, it should be noted that specified peat extraction may also require a licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) system, which is under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

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