Calls for extension of consultation period on plans for Offaly bogs restoration

Irish Rural Link has called for an extension of the consultation period on draft plans for rehabilitating Oughter and Pollagh Bogs in Co. Offaly.

The consultation period, which opened earlier in the month, is due to close tomorrow (Sunday, January 24) and Irish Rural Link said that many of its members “were only made aware of this consultation” on Friday (January 22), “some of who will be affected by the works and gives very little time for them to make a submission on this”.

“While Irish Rural Link supports the work of rehabilitating these bogs, there is very little reference, if any, in both drafts on community engagement and working with the communities on this.

“Through its experience and working with Community Wetlands Forum members, a community-led network established under the umbrella of Irish Rural Link involved in the conservation and restoration of local peatlands and wetlands, it has seen that by engaging with and working with communities from the outset of such work, there are better outcomes for all involved.”

Commenting on “the short turnaround time for submissions to be made and lack of engagement and collaboration with communities outlined in both drafts”, Irish Rural Link CEO Seamus Boland said:

By engaging communities early on in projects such as the ones here, there is more opportunity of having the full support of the community.

“It also gives communities a sense of ownership over such projects and come to value them more.

“We would call on Bord na Móna to extend the consultation period and recommend [that] meaningful engagement and working with the local communities is a key action in their plans.”

In November, the cabinet approved €108 million in funding for Bord na Móna peatland restoration and rehabilitation measures for 33,000ha Bord na Móna bogs.