AIE: Referrals made under European Communities (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Agriculture) Regulations 2011

AIE-006-2022

“Records of all referrals made during 2020 and 2021 by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine relating to the following three categories listed under the European Communities (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Agriculture) Regulations 2011:


Restructuring of rural land holdings (including field boundary removal)
• Commencing to use uncultivated land or semi-natural areas for intensive agriculture
• Land drainage works on lands used for agriculture.


Records to include any site reports from Conservation Rangers

Woodland removal, tree felling and drainage, farm, Lower River Shannon SAC

Application to remove scrub and bushes to allow grazing, plus spray weeds in River Moy SAC

Our Lady’s Lake (SAC, SPA and NHA): application for ploughing and reseeding with grass. Reclamation of land for agriculture, and reseeding lakeshore.

River Barrow and River Nore SAC: land reclamation works, including drainage, levelling, ploughing, reseeding and removal of vegetation within flood plain

“Known to be large scale unauthorized reclamation works undertaken within the vicinity (Cooltederry), with potential consequences for total load of soil/nutrients entering the river at this location”

Cloonmoylan Bog SAC: application to plough and reseed raised bog for grazing cattle

Castlesampson Esker SAC, application to spread fertilizer/slurry and reseed

Lough Swilly SPA. Cross compliance, unauthorised works, Donegal. Drainage works taking place in designated SPA and pNHA areas.

Kerry, near Lissleton, significant agricultural reclamation. Extensive.

Bogland drained, scrub cleared, soil moved in.

“Area that has been developed massively for dairy in recent years with major loss of biodiversity, water and carbon values”

Kerry. Farm adjacent to Owgarriv stream. Oak trees felled. Birch uprooted by digger. Woodland cleared and converted to grazing land. Native woodland and hedgerow removal

“the large area of exposed soil on steep and sloping ground, no longer bound by tree roots, is at high risk of being washed into the River Flesk during periods of heavy rain, causing siltation. Such a pollution event may impact on aquatic life, including salmonid fish and fresh water pearl mussel, the latter being a qualifying interest for Killarney National Park, Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Caragh River Catchment SAC. Clearing the woodland and hedgerow during the bird nesting season, may have resulted in the destruction of nests and mortality of chicks. The woodland may also have been used as a foraging habitat for lesser horseshoe bats in the area and its clearance could impact on the productivity of nearby roosts.”

Slaney River Valley SAC. Wicklow, clearance of trees and vegetation

Offence under S.40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976-2018

Monaghan, 800m treeline / hedgerows removed

“The works undertaken were very severe and extensive consisting of the permanent removal of mature treelines and hedgerows. Some the tree stumps recorded at the site were of very mature trees in excess of 150 year old. It would take this amount of time again to replace these landscape features. The adjacent lake is a drinking water supply, the removal of the treelines, hedgerows and lake shore scrub has resulted in sediment being released to this lake with implications for drinking water quality. There is potential for short-term sever sedimentation of the lake with a long-term reduction in the buffering capacity of the lakeshore vegetation.”

Gweedore Bay and Islands SAC and West Donegal Coast SPA

Cross compliance, West Donegal. Approximately 43 cattle (cows and calves) were penned into a small devegetated area in the dunes with supplementary feeders and a build-up of dung on the sand

Lough Bane and Lough Glass SAC, drainage works. Tree and scrub removal

Farmer stated that the works were done intentionally to make the land more suitable for his 130 sheep.
These works will permanently damage the associated wetland.

Cross Compliance, Louth

Non-compliance of SMR 2 Conservation of Wild Birds. 100m of hedgerow had been recently cleared or removed. Land drainage to facilitate oilseed rape crop

Wicklow, hedgerow cutting and tree felling carried out during the closed season

River Barrow and River Nore SAC, Laois CoCo.,

NPWS would be of the opinion that the works are not in the ordinary course of agriculture, that the works are significant and consider the case urgent due to the substantial risk of discharge to receiving water due to the current state of the property (bare soil as of 15.10.2021 following cultivation after harvesting of a Maize crop)

Damage included the extirpation of riparian vegetation 232 meters (approx.) on the riverbank, with the bank of the River Nore re-profiled, significant subsequent siltation, the installation of a drainage system into a wet grassland habitat, drainage and infilling of approx. 1.86ha of wet grassland causing discharge to the main river channel. These activities took place within the boundary of the SAC and may have been done using a track machine or other machinery brought onto a European site

Maize crop has been harvested and the field cultivated again. NPWS would ask that DAFM treat this case as urgent due to the significant negative impact that these works are having on the SAC/SPA and the qualifying interests for the two sites – salmonids, pearl mussel, lamprey, otters, Kingfisher etc

Wilfully removed the riparian zone and drained the wet grassland for agricultural purposes

Cashel, Wexford, hedge and scrub removal

Clare, removal of approximately 734 metres of hedgerow within the Slieve Aughty Mountains SPA
(code 4168) with an addition 150metres of hedgerow removal outside of the SPA. There was an area of
approximately 1 hectare of woodland/scrub to the western end of the land holding that was felled also. The works took place on the 28th of April 2020, which is within the bird nesting season. Given the extent of hedgerow removal and clearance of vegetation of uncultivated land for agriculture , it is likely to constitute a breach of the EIA Regulations. Reported to the Forest Service, given the amount of unlicenced tree felling at the site.

Moyree SAC

Soil is being excavated from a hill outside of the SAC and is being spread on lands within the SAC.

Significant infilling of limestone pavement in the SAC

Commencing to use uncultivated land or semi-natural areas for intensive agriculture.

Clare. Dromore Woos and Loughs SAC, land clearance, drains, infill works

Wicklow Mountains SAC, ploughing and removal of vegetation in SAC for sheep farming

Tinoranhill South, Wicklow. Removal of 300m of hedgerow/embankment vegetation

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