My Department is currently progressing draft European Union (Licensing of Large-Scale Extraction of Peat) Regulations that will establish a revised regulatory regime in respect of large-scale peat extraction. Under the draft Regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency will be required to carry out an environmental impact assessment as part of its examination of applications for a licence for peat extraction on sites of 30 hectares or more, and such activity will be exempted 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. Consultations are continuing with the Environmental Protection Agency with a view to finalising the draft Regulations for signature as soon as possible.
It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the impact on the harvesting of peat arising from the High Court ruling to which the Question refers given that neither I, as Minister, nor the State was a party to the case concerned and the period for appealing the ruling has not yet expired.