I propose to take Questions Nos. 614, 615 and 631 together.
My Department is continuing to actively progress draft European Union (Licensing of Large-Scale Extraction of Peat) Regulations that, when signed into law, will establish a revised regulatory regime in respect of large-scale peat extraction, requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out an environmental impact assessment as part of its examination of applications for licences for peat extraction on sites of 30 hectares or more, and exempting such activity from the requirement to obtain planning permission.
The draft Regulations have been the subject of focused stakeholder input from relevant Government Departments and State bodies, industry representatives and environmental groups and are currently under review, following further consultations with the Environmental Protection Agency, with a view to finalising the Regulations for signature as speedily as possible.
It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the continuing High Court proceedings referred to in the Questions because neither I, as Minister, nor the State is a party to the case concerned. In this regard, it should be noted that section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 specifically precludes me from exercising any power or control in relation to any case (including a planning enforcement case), with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.