Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Questions (614, 615, 631)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

614. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to prevent a company (details supplied), whose appeal against An Bord Pleanála's ruling that this company must now must carry out environmental impact assessments, EIAs, in order to secure planning permission for extracting and milling peat was rejected by the High Court last month, from the ongoing and illegal extraction of lorry loads of peat from the bog in Clonsura, County Westmeath. [14188/18]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

615. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that An Bord Pleanála ruled in 2013 that the peat extraction at a location (details supplied) is unauthorised and that the High Court recently confirmed that finding in a case taken by the peat extraction company against An Bord Pleanála; and the steps his Department will now take under the development control frameworks to ensure that the unauthorised peat extraction, which has caused and continues to cause the loss of archaeological heritage, is ceased. [14345/18]

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Peter Burke

Question:

631. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the European Union (Licensing of Large-scale Extraction of Peat) Regulations 2016 will be signed into law; the status of interactions to date between his Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, and the Office of the Attorney General in relation to these regulations; the outstanding issues which are delaying matters; if stakeholders have been briefed on delays on enacting these regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13884/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

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.