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Representation in Ireland
News article29 September 2022Representation in Ireland

Commission calls on IRELAND to halt peat-cutting activities in Natura 2000 sites and to restore these sites

The Commission is calling on Ireland to take action to halt the continued cutting of peat within Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated to conserve raised bogs and blanket bogs under the Habitats Directive.

Bogland, Ireland

The Commission is calling on Ireland (INFR(2010)2161) to take action to halt the continued cutting of peat within Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated to conserve raised bogs and blanket bogs under the Habitats Directive (Directive 1992/43/EEC).

The European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 aim for the EU to halt biodiversity loss by protecting and restoring biodiversity. In addition to their biodiversity value, peat bogs are vital carbon sinks when healthy. Their protection and restoration assist Ireland in meeting its climate change goals not only in keeping the peat in the ground, but also by avoiding the very high carbon and other air pollution emissions which are caused when peat is burnt as a fuel. 

The Irish authorities have taken action to stop cutting, including by compensating peat and turf cutters. However, cutting activities are still ongoing and enforcement action appears to have stalled. Restoration activities have begun on some raised bogs SACs, but this is too slow given the importance of this priority habitat and its precarious state. With regard to blanket bogs SACs, there appears to be no regime controlling ongoing cutting with the cutting for domestic use exempt from control.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice in January 2011 followed by a reasoned opinion in June 2011. After a long dialogue with the Irish authorities, for the reasons mentioned above, the Commission has decided to issue an additional reasoned opinion to Ireland, which now has two months to respond and take the necessary measures.

Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Details

Publication date
29 September 2022
Author
Representation in Ireland