AIE Request: Woodland and hedgerow destruction, Tonashammer, Westmeath

AIE.22.284

Irish Transverse Mercartor Projection are 649994, 776015

Illegal felling enforcement case, land seeded for dairy farming

“There is enough evidence observed to warrant that the file is forwarded to the EIA section for their assessment. The location is tonashammer, it is north of castlepollard and west of dromone. Over 500 metres of hedgerow has been removed (not trimmed) and nothing is remaining only bare soil. The total area of the works is ca 6.5 ha and there are wetlands present. Part of the area overlaps or is adjacent to a pNHA”

Inspectors Report

Cease and Desist Letter

Report from site visit conducted following a cross report of a possible breach of Environmental Impact Regulations (Agriculture) in relation to work being carried out on lands at Tonashammer, Co. Westmeath

Replanting Order

Ms X and Coillte (27 July 2022)

https://www.ocei.ie/decisions/ms-x-and-coillte/index.xml

Whether Coillte was justified, under article 9(2)(a) of the AIE Regulations, in refusing access to information coming within the scope of 19 requests submitted by the appellant.

In  particular, note paras 16 and 17 : 

’16. ….. However, I would note that the exemption

in article 9(2)(a) of the AIE Regulations is not intended to endorse any failure by a public authority to comply with its duties of dissemination of environmental information under article 5 of the AIE Regulations and Article 7 of the AIE Directive. Furthermore, in every case, regard should be had to the purpose of the AIE Regime, as reflected in Recital 1 of the Preamble to the AIE Directive, which provides that “increased public access to environmental information and the dissemination of such information contribute to greater public awareness of environmental decision-making and, eventually, to a better environment.”


17. ….
Coillte stated that, accordingly, while it has a statutory remit it also operates under significant commercial pressures.

I accept that the significant increase in the level of AIE activity over the past year has presented challenges for a number of public authorities, including Coillte. However, the fact remains that the administration of the AIE Regulations is a statutory obligation which should be afforded as much weight as any other statutory obligation or the carrying out of other operational or commercial functions’.

also note

Mr G and DAFM (27 July 2022)

https://www.ocei.ie/decisions/right-to-know-and-radio-t/mr-g-and-department-of-ag/index.xml

(ODEI have assigned the incorrect reference on this link). 

In particular note para 12. 

12. The manner in which the Department has dealt with this request is unacceptable. The absence of any evidence to show that the Department meaningfully engaged with the request at either original decision stage, or at internal review stage is most disappointing. I acknowledge that renewed searches can sometimes reveal some additional information that may not have been found initially. However, I believe that there must have been significant deficiencies in the searches conducted by the Department in circumstances where no information whatsoever was found during searches at original decision and internal review stage, but a considerable amount of information was then found when my Office enquired about the matter. At that stage the appellant had paid a fee. The Department should review its procedures for searching for environmental information, and take account of the requirement under article 5(1)(b) of the AIE Regulations for it to make all reasonable efforts to maintain environmental information held by or for it in a manner that is readily reproducible and accessible’.

AIE request: NPWS reports as a result of licencing referrals from Forest Service

1) a copy of all site reports and related information produced by conservation and ecological staff of the NPWS as a result of licencing referrals from the Forest Service made during 2022 that are logged on the DATS

2) a copy of all submissions made to the Forest Service in response to licencing referrals for the same period.

Coillte Felling Licences

Suggested AIE request

Subject: AIE Request: Licence No. [ ] Application Details

I wish to request information under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations.

The information requested is:

1) Information relating to felling licence application Licence No. [ ] to include inter alia;

Map of the planned Harvest Route to the nearest Regional Road

Date of Inspection by Environmental Officer prior to application submission

Environmental Officers Comments on Water, Soil & Biodiversity

Proportion of Site affected by Windblow

Notifications / Consultations with local stakeholders

An estimate of the expected residues and emissions (including carbon loss from soils)

A description of the significant effects of the proposed activity on the environment;

A description of the measures envisaged to prevent and/or reduce the effects

An outline of the main alternatives studied by the applicant

I request that the information is provided in an electronic format by 1st August 2022.

Could you please provide an acknowledgement of this request and contact details for the party assigned to deal with it.

Can you please include my reference in the Subject Bar of any correspondence on this request.

Please note that the email for the response is email address

Kind regards,

send to info@coillte.ie

Case: OCE-120668-K4W4F2

This decision gives an insight into why DAFM does not routinely include the AA & EIA Screening Reports on the FLV

“It also said that releasing the two reports may create a precedent that necessitates a large increase in documents to be added to the Department’s portal and that the resultant administrative burden would be very large. It added that these two documents are not routinely put on the Department’s information portal, the FLV.

AIE to DAFM: Notifications of Red Areas (Hen Harrier Conservation)

Request for information under the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2018.

On 14th June 2022 you requested the following:


Information on all licences where the licensee has been notified by the Forest Service of a new Red Area (generated by a newly recorded Hen Harrier nesting site) which overlaps the licenced area.


The details sought are;


a. Licence number


b. Date that the Forest Service was made aware of the new nesting location


c. Date and means that the licensee was notified by the Forest Service (email,
letter, phone call, etc.)


d. Records of any post-notification inspections carried out by the Forest Service
to ensure compliance with the notification


e. Details of any agreement between the FS and the licensee to permit disturbance works to continue

Response would indicate that no licensee has been notified by the Forest Service of a new Red Area (generated by a newly recorded Hen Harrier nesting site) which overlaps the licenced area.

Its difficult to accept that this is the case, so a review of decision requested

Felling licence applications made by Coillte in 2021 where the lands involved are held Leasehold, not Freehold

 

OCEI Ref: OCE-124246-Y1J3X0

Coillte Ref: 20220049

Ref: Coillte Nature of Ownership

 

I refer to the request made under the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2018 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007, S.I. No. 662 of 2011, S.I. 615 of 2014 and S.I. No. 309 of 2018) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations) for access to information held by Coillterelating to “Electronic copy of Item 3 from any Coillte standard application for a Tree Felling Licence made to DAFM during 2021 where the “Nature of ownership” column, in Item 3, is ­not declared as Freehold.” I also refer to the correspondence from the OCEI to Coillte dated 28th June 2022 under the above referencerequesting a reply to both parties.

Summary of Decision

I made a decision on the request on 5th July 2022. I have decided that access should be granted to all of the records. I attach an excel file detailing all of the felling licence applications made during 2021 where the ‘nature of ownership’ is not freehold.

Right of review

Under Article 11 of the AIE Regulations you have a right to request an internal review of this decision. An internal review involves a complete reconsideration of the matter by a member of the staff of Coillte, unconnected with the original decision, of the same or higher rank than the original decision-maker, who may affirm, vary or annul the original decision.