Submission to Bord na Mona on rehabilitation of Castlegar and Kellysgrove Bogs in East Galway

In Agriculture, Business & Jobs, Disability, East-Roscommon, Education, Environment, Families, Health, Infrastructure, Jobs, Local Issues, News, Older People, Tourism, Young People by Denis Naughten

Ms. Doreen King

Project Manager

Bord na Móna Energy Division,

Leabeg, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

Doreen.King@bnm.ie

 

9th December 2020

 

Dear Ms. King

Thank you for your email outlining plans to rehabilitate Castlegar and Kellysgrove Bogs in East Galway and your request for feedback on both projects.

Firstly, can I request that there is a full hydrological and surface water assessment completed which considers the potential impact of these works on adjoining farmland.

With regard to the Castlegar Bog project can I ask you to consult with Ballyforan Area Transition Team, which has secured €1m investment in the Ballyforan greenway loop and €100,000 for a local development plan under the Just Transition Fund. I believe it is important that public access to, and within, Castlegar Bog is facilitated following the rehabilitation works. I would also ask you to ensure that provision is made to link this bog and the adjoining bogs not just with Ballyforan, but also Ahascragh where a new distillery is being developed.

With regard to Kellysgrove Bog, because of its location so close to the town of Ballinasloe, I would propose that this be expanded to include a submission  which I made to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment in summer 2019 to develop these particular bog lands as a Ballinasloe Parkland Project, which as you know it is envisaged will form part of the Dublin/Galway Greenway.

I’m attaching an outline of my proposal for the Ballinasloe Parkland Project, which I believe should be incorporated into your plans.

Owing to the location of Kellysgrove Bog beside the M6 motorway I believe it should be designated as a visitor site to show the public how the €106m midland investment is to be utilised and to outline the broader rehabilitation project story to the general public as well as foreign visitors.

I hope that Bord na Mona will be able to incorporate my suggestions into its overall plan for both bogs.

I’m very happy to go into further detail with Bord Na Mona regarding any aspect of this submission.

Yours sincerely

Denis Naughten TD

 

 

 

Ballinasloe Parkland Project

While this project is in its infancy in comparison to the North Midlands Wetland Park, the plan would be to develop Kellysgrove Bog just to the east of Ballinasloe, on the western banks of the River Suck as a recreational and activity parkland.

Public access alone is already attracting over 50,000 visitors a year to the Bord na Móna wind park at Mount Lucas, Co. Offaly and this site has the potential to attract multiples of this to the Ballinasloe area.

The Ballinasloe Parkland Project would tie in well with the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands Tourism brand which is promoting the region using a number of key tourism corridors, namely the Shannon Blueway (the Blueway runs along the northern part of the site – River Suck), the Beara Breffni Way (the Hymany Way which forms part of the Beara Breffni Way runs to the south of the site) and the Dublin-Galway Greenway (which is proposed to run through the site from Correen Ford to Ballinasloe Harbour, along the old disused canal). See map attached.

As a result this site would be at the effective cross roads of the key tourism corridors proposed in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and could tell the story of the active rehabilitation of our bogs and repurposing of the economic importance cut away bogs are playing in the development of tourism in the region.

This site has the added advantage that is very close to an exit on the M6 motorway which allows for greater accessibility of the rehabilitation project story to the general public as well as visitors.

The old disused canal which runs through the site links Ballinasloe Harbour with the western banks of Shannon Harbour, Co. Offaly, and there is an opportunity to explore the possibility of using the Bord na Móna bridge over the Shannon at Shannonbridge as a possible greenway link similar to Kilnacarrow River Bridge Greenway Feasibility Study which I requested from Bord na Mona, as Minister for Energy.

Such a study could consider using the bridge to link the soon to be completed Grand Canal Greenway through Co. Offaly to Shannon Harbour, with the proposed greenway to Clonmacnoise and the Dublin Galway Greenway which is currently proposed to run to the western banks of Shannonbridge.

 

 

 

Sent: Friday 4 December 2020 17:31

 

Dear Deputy Naughten,

 

In line with Bord na Móna’s accelerated decarbonization strategy, and the availability of government funding, the company has committed to ambitious enhanced peatland decommissioning and rehabilitation improvements, initially targeting over 30,000 hectares in over 80 Bord na Móna bogs.

 

The enhanced rehabilitation scheme will deliver benefits across climate action by optimising carbon storage of residual peat, reducing Green House Gas emissions and accelerating the development of carbon sequestration with Sphagnum-rich vegetation, where possible. This will also enrich the State’s natural capital, increase eco-system services, strengthen biodiversity, improve water quality and storage attenuation as well as enabling the amenity potential of the peatlands. The measures proposed will set sites on an accelerated trajectory towards the development of a variety of habitats including developing natural peatland, wetland and woodland.

The rehabilitation measures will focus on optimising suitable hydrological conditions (water-levels) across the peatlands to maximise climate action benefits.  The key target will be to bring water levels close to the peat surface to re-wet peat and accelerate the development of naturally functioning peatland habitats and the trajectory of sites to become reduced carbon sources and carbon sinks again.

 

It is Bord na Mona’s intention to carry out bog rehabilitation improvements at the following bogs in your constituency:

 

Castlegar Bog:

Bord na Mona’s Castlegar Bog in County Galway, located circa 9 km north of Ballinasloe (Google location: https://goo.gl/maps/JcbWGc3Jm6n3dXWd9).   Castlegar Bog is part of the Bord na Móna Blackwater Bog Group and the work is part of the rehabilitation improvements being undertaken in this Bog Group.  Trials are currently underway at the site and these improvements are scheduled for completion in 2021.

 

Part of the improvements for bog rehabilitation work at Castlegar Bog is to finalise the rehabilitation plan, as required under the EPA licence, for this site.  Bord na Móna operates under an Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) Licence issued and administered by the EPA to extract peat within the Blackwater Bog Group (IPC Ref. P0502-01).  As part of Condition 10.2, a rehabilitation plan must be prepared for permanent rehabilitation of the boglands within the licensed area. Part of the process of developing a rehabilitation plan as required by Condition 10.2, includes consultation with stakeholders and affected parties. This is part of that process.

 

The main objective of the rehabilitation for Castlegar Bog is to re-wet this cutaway peatland, where possible, and to stabilise the bog surface with natural vegetation.  The improvements will incorporate peat drain blocks and re-profiling and contouring of the peat fields to bring water levels back to the surface of the peat fields thereby allowing compatible peatland habitats to re-develop while slowing water movement across the bog.

 

Kellysgrove Bog:

Kellysgrove Bog is located in County Galway, located circa 4 km south – east of Ballinasloe (Google location: https://goo.gl/maps/KEJBKDJxaT16fHp19).   Kellysgrove Bog is part of the Bord na Móna Blackwater Bog Group and the work is part of the rehabilitation improvements being undertaken in this Bog Group.

 

Part of the improvements for bog rehabilitation work at Kellysgrove Bog is to finalise the rehabilitation plan, as required under the EPA licence, for this site.  Bord na Móna operates under an Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) Licence issued and administered by the EPA to extract peat within the Blackwater Bog Group (IPC Ref. P0502-01).  As part of Condition 10.2, a rehabilitation plan must be prepared for permanent rehabilitation of the boglands within the licensed area. Part of the process of developing a rehabilitation plan as required by Condition 10.2, includes consultation with stakeholders and affected parties. This is part of that process.

 

Industrial peat production did not take place at Kellysgrove Bog, although the bog was originally developed and drained for this purpose. The main objective of the rehabilitation for Kellysgrove Bog is to re-wet this cutaway peatland, where possible, setting the bog on a trajectory towards raised bog restoration. The improvements will incorporate peat drain blocks to bring water levels back to the surface thereby allowing compatible peatland habitats to re-develop while slowing water movement across the bog.

 

Please advise if you have any queries, require further information or wish to comment on rehabilitation improvements in the above bogs.

 

Please note all submissions in relation to these bogs shall be forwarded to Bord na Mona by 29th December 2020.

 

 

Regards

 

Doreen King

 

 

 

Doreen King

Project Manager

 

Bord na Móna Energy Division,

Leabeg, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

Website: www.bordnamona.ie

Email: doreen.king@bnm.ie