Two new pieces of legislation have been passed recently regarding the exempted status of peat extraction and the requirement for existing and new peat extractors to apply to the Environmental Protection Agency for a Licence to operate.

The Department for Housing, Planning and Local Government has recently made new regulations entitled the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 12 of 2019) which provide for an exemption from planning permission for large-scale peat extraction activity coming under a consent system operated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These Regulations were signed by the Minister on 25 January 2019 and came into operation on that date. A copy of the Regulations is at this link.

Article 2 of the Regulations amends the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, by inserting a new Article 8H to provide that, with effect from the operative date of 25 January 2019, peat extraction within the meaning of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (the 1992 Act) – i.e. peat extraction that involves an area of 30 hectares or more (see also the next paragraph) – and any development necessary to comply with a condition attached to a licence or revised licence under Part IV of that Act to carry out such peat extraction, is exempted development under section 4(4A) of the Planning and Development Act 2000. In effect, such peat extraction will no longer be subject to planning permission under the planning code and will instead from the operative date be exclusively subject to licensing by the EPA.

In this regard, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment has made corresponding supplementary regulations entitled the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Peat Extraction) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 4 of 2019) which amend the 1992 Act to provide that the extraction of peat that involves an area of 30 hectares or more will be an activity controlled by Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licensing by the EPA. These Regulations also came into operation on 25 January 2019. A copy of S.I. No. 4 of 2019 is at this link.

It is also understood that development of a new regulatory framework for smaller scale peat extraction (i.e. in respect of areas below 30 hectares) will shortly be initiated and progressed. Proposals for such new permitting arrangements, which will also take such peat extraction out of the planning system, will be the subject of extensive consultation with the relevant stakeholder groups and interested parties.

For Further Details contact Michael Watson on 091 735611.