Bloomhill Bog, Co. Offaly and Co. Westmeath: Cutaway Bog Decommissioning and Rehabilitation Plan – Screening for Appropriate Assessment and Natura Impact Statement

09.03.2022

Bord na Móna operates under IPC Licence issued and administered by the EPA to extract peat within the Blackwater bog group (Ref. P0502-01). As part of Condition 10.2 of this license, a rehabilitation plan must be prepared for permanent rehabilitation of the boglands within the licensed area. Bloomhill bog is part of the Blackwater bog group. Bloomhill Bog straddles the Co. Offaly and Co. Westmeath border

Bloomhill Bog is located approximately 4km south-west of Ballynahown in County Offaly. Bloomhill Bog surrounds a large mineral island also known as Bloomhill. The mineral island is made up primarily of agricultural lands and residential lands.

Some surrounding areas utilised for domestic turf-cutting

The total area of Bloomhill Bog is 765ha of which 438.23ha or 57.28% of the present Landcover (2021) has been allocated enhanced rehabilitation measures

Bloomhill Bog has been in peat production since the early 1980’s. The peat was primarily harvested for fuel peat to be used in Cloghan Power Station, Derrinlough Brickette Factory and West Offaly Power in Shannonbridge, Offaly. The bog still retains deep peat reserves in some places. The site is dominated by bare peat former production bog land.

Bloomhill bog has 12 treated surface water outlets to the receiving waters. There is one to the IE_SH_26S021800 SHANNON (Upper)_120 (River Shannon), 3 treated outlets to the IE_SH_26B071200 BOOR_020 (Boor River) direct and the balance of 8 treated outlets to the IE_SH_26S021800 SHANNON (Upper)_120 (Curraghboy River). These watercourses provide connectivity to the River Shannon which is designated as part of the Middle Shannon Callows SPA (004096) and River Shannon Callows SAC (000216)

Peat extraction through turbary occurs around the northern margins of Bloomhill Bog and Mongan Bog to the south-west and at other locations within 15km.

Licensed turbary occurs at various locations within 15km of Bloomhill Bog, including several locations where the pathways for downstream in combination effects on European Sites may exist, primarily via drainage to EPA blue line watercourses to facilitate turbary. Unauthorised private turbary also occurs in discrete localised plots within the larger cutover raised bog complexes located to the south of Bloomhill Bog.

Bloomhill Bog has a pumped drainage regime.

Bord na Móna are reviewing the potential to develop a potential renewable energy project at Bloomhill Bog. It is expected that this review will be completed in 1-2 years. In advance of this review of renewable energy potential, it is planned to rehabilitate part of Bloomhill Bog in 2022-2024 that is not constrained

Parts of Bloomhill Bog (outside the areas owned and under the control of Bord na Móna) are currently used by domestic turf cutters to harvest peat. These areas are ecologically and hydrologically linked to the area owned by Bord na Móna where rehabilitation is planned. Nevertheless, Bord na Móna are aware of such issues which may constrain the proposed rehabilitation actions, and this rehabilitation plan considered potential impacts of these on the delivery of the stated objective.

Bord na Móna remain committed to rehabilitating all of Bloomhill Bog and to meeting IPC Licence conditions for this bog. The remaining area will be rehabilitated after the renewable energy review is complete. The peatland rehabilitation of the remaining area will either be in association with a potential renewable energy project, with peatland rehabilitation integrated into the proposed project, or will be completed in the future in the absence of any proposed renewable energy project.

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