Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (330)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

330. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to a recent peat slippage near a windfarm (details supplied) in County Donegal; the way in which this will be investigated and addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37840/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I am aware of the recent peat slide at Meenbog wind farm, Barnesmore Gap, south of Ballybofey, Co Donegal which is currently under construction. The matter is being actively investigated by a number of statutory agencies led by Donegal County Council and also involving the EPA, Irish Water, the Loughs Agency, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, as well as Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, having regard to the fact that the development is a transboundary project.

At this early stage, the precise cause of the peat slide is yet to be determined, be it construction works on the wind farm, weather impacts, other factors or a combination of various factors.

Investigations on the cause are ongoing but the immediate focus of the agencies involved has been to deal with immediate steps to remediate the site and minimise any environmental impacts. Once those measures are in place, the agencies involved will then endeavour to determine the precise cause of the peat slide and deal with technical breaches of planning and environmental requirements, if any, after that.

All works on the wind farm have been temporarily ceased arising from the peat slide with the exception of those that relate to mitigating the impact of the peat slide and reducing the risk of further slides.

Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or the Board is or may be concerned, except in very specific and extreme circumstances, which do not apply in this instance.