Ireland has adopted new European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Peat Extraction) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 4 of 2019) which provides a regulatory framework for large-scale commercial peat-extraction in order to ensure that applications can be made to the EPA for licences to govern the extraction of peat in respect of developments of 30 hectares or more.
The regulations are being made under the European Communities Act 1972 and amend the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (No. 7 of 1992), as amended, and the Planning and Development Act 2000 (No. 30 of 2000), as amended. This will ensure that Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and related consultations are carried out, as required under the EIA Directive, in relation to assessments by the EPA of applications for Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licences for large-scale peat extraction activities (areas of 30 hectares or more).
The new regulations introduce a simpler, more effective and more efficient EPA licensing system that will be fully compliant with the EIA Directive and will operate seamlessly across local authority boundaries. With the introduction of the new regulations, peat extraction on an area of 30 hectares or more will be exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission by regulations being made under section 4(4)(a) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 thereby taking such peat extraction activities out of the planning system and instead addressing them through the more streamlined regulatory approach which builds on the expertise built up in the EPA.