Northern Ireland news

Environment Agency considers legal action over peat slide

The bog slide sent thousands of tonnes of peat into the Derg and Mourne Beg rivers.
Seamus McKinney

LEGAL action may be taken if any organisation is found responsible for a peat slide which sent thousands of tonnes slipping into rivers in east Donegal and west Tyrone.

The Republic’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed it is investigating the land slide in November at the site of a new windfarm under construction at Meenbog near Stranorlar in east Donegal.

Tonnes of trees, bog and vegetation were swept into the Mourne Beg and Derg rivers by the landslide. The peat slide also caused damage to the Corgary trout farm.

Spectacular footage of the incident, showing trees and land sliding down a hillside, was widely shared on social media.

Following a visit to the site by the Republic's and Stormont agriculture ministers, Charlie McConalogue and Edwin Poots, damage caused by the peat slide was described as “shocking”.

It has now been confirmed that anyone found responsible for the incident could face investigation by the EPA.

A spokesman for the authority said inspectors visited the site before Christmas and were now considering whether or not to order remediation work, recover costs for losses caused or any remediation works. Failure to comply with any EPA order could lead to legal action.

The EPA said EU law would apply as the peat slide occurred close to a "special area of conservation".

East Donegal Sinn Féin councillor Gary Doherty said it was right that the EPA had adopted a proactive interest in the incident.

“It’s very much to be welcomed that the statutory bodies are taking this very, very seriously,” Mr Doherty said.

Emergency work to prevent further environmental damage from the peat slide was “substantially completed” just before Christmas.

Donegal County Council said work to stabilise the peat slide was carried out to prevent further pollution.

All work at the Meenbog windfarm has stopped until government agencies have reviewed reports and documents from the developer.

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