In 1977 all bogs and lands not in act of production were declared wildlife sanctuary.  The board presented three bogs for the state for preservation for ecological interest.  In 1970’s an inventory of Irish peat lands was compiled for national heritage purposes.

The 1980s sat the first significant movement toward conserving peat land.  The European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a program to be drawn out to ensure that sufficient samples of environmentally and scientifically significant peat areas were protected and preserved. Pressure came on the government to preserve a number of bogs.

In 1990 Bord na Móna received funding to operate a peat research centre as a joint venture with the Office of Science and Technology. A joint venture was established in the late 1980s to develop septic tank treatment systems   to develop market and biological solutions for treatment of emissions. Environmental consultancy and the provision of consultatory and analytical services followed.

The Turf Development Act 1990 widened the scope of permitted activities for Bord na Móna.  It allowed the establishment and acquisition of companies and operations outside Ireland.  It modernised and facilitated business development though the 1990s.

Cut away bogs suitable for afforestation were transferred to the Forestry Service in the late 1980 at a lease of £40 per acre.  Despite initial adverse reaction, and being regarded as confiscatory, the payments were regarded as reasonable value for the use of the land in due course. Beginning in 1988 Bord na Móna sold its farms.

Bord na Móna adopted a policy on peat land conservation in 1987. An internal cutaway committee reported in 1988 and adopted the following policies. Bord na Mona’s guiding principle would be to

  • extract the maximum amount of peat which may profitably taken
  • Low lying area areas without natural drainage would be designated to wetlands or lake lands
  • Western blanket bogs, midland raised machine cut bogs and areas of uncut deep peats would be designated for forestry or reversion to natural vegetation
  • Remaining Midland Peat land will go half for grassland and half for forestry
  • Large parts of the lands designated for forestry would be leased to the State forestry service

In 1989 Bord na Mona established itself as an environmentally friendly company. Discussion was undertaken with interested representatives including the Wildlife Service, with a view to the sale to the Wildlife Service of bogs of ecological and scientific interest.

In 1990 Bord na Móna transferred for conservation, all bogs in its ownership classified as being of national or international importance.  This included over 20 bogs covering 2,500 hectares.  The Wildlife Service paid the cost over a number of years.

By the early 1980s Bord na Móna debts were almost £200 million with annual servicing cost of £22 million.  Two thirds of this were in the board’s opinion related to deadweight debt resulting from government policy in the 1970s. Effectively the ESB price paid subsidised Bord na Mona and enabled it to service its debt.

In May 1995 the government agreed to invest £120 million equity in three tranches.   The price of peat sold to ESB would be reduced in three phases and a reduction of government guarantees of the debt would take place. A complaint was made to the o the EU Commission on a state aid basis, which was rejected.

The Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 allowed the government to inject equity in the Board.

A feasibility study in 1993 recommended construction of a 120-megawatt peat powered station.  Attempts were made to secure EU structural funds for the station and ultimately £21 million was provided towards the cost of the station. It was proposed the station would be operated by the private sector and not ESB.

The acquisition of lands had taken place since 1946 under compulsory purchase power.  Almost 90,000 hectares had been acquired in fee.  In the period from 1946 to 1978 there were long delays in the process of compulsory acquisition.  By the mid 1990’s the conveyancing process for much of land was still outstanding.

By the early 1990s much of ESB fired plants had reached the end of their useful life. The Allenwood Station was closed in 1993 following a breakdown.  A 13-megawatt set in Ferbane broke down and was never refurbished.

In 1995 Bord na Móna purchase Consolidated Holdings Limited, the largest coal importer and distributor in the State.  Both coal and briquettes fell in market share as natural gas and smoke zones control reduced their use.

Bord na Móna engaged in a number of businesses and joint ventures internationally and domestically.

The fire log, fire lighters and min-bales were introduced in 1995.

The European Regional Development Fund provided 50% funding for rehabilitation of cutaway peat lands.  Some 1,200 hectares of wet land were established including Angling lakes, walkways and other amenities.

The government injected £49M into Bord na Móna in 1996 after the favourable state aids decision.  The purpose was to retire the historic gas identified of having no connection with the current business.  There was a 30% reduction in the price paid by ESB as a result.

In 1998 a Finnish group was selected to build, own and operate Edenderry power station.  A 15-year contract was signed with Bord na Móna and the operator to supply peat.  This station became operational on full load of 130 megawatts in October 2000.

Bord na Móna invested on bogs to provide peat converting old cutover machine turf bogs to milled peat.  This included replacement of rail lines as machine turf lines were designed to carry lighter wagons than those needed for milled peat.

A number of stations continued to close including the Rhode station and the d 40 megawatt Shannonbridge station.  The cost of repair and refurbishment would have been significant and ESB sought to recoup it be public service obligation payment.

In 2000 it was announced that there would be orderly closure of the remaining peat powered stations to be replaced by two new stations beside the existing Lanesborough and Shannonbridge stations to be owned by the ESB.  A proposed public service obligation was submitted to EU Commission in 2000.

In 1999 the electricity market was deregulated.

The Turf Development Act 1998 changed Bord na Móna into a limited company once again.  It facilitated privatisation. It provided for reduction in Bord na Móna’s permitted debt levels to take account of the equity injection.  .

The Turf Development Act 1998 (Vesting Day) Order, 1998 provided for the transfer of this staff assets liabilities and undertaking of the statutory corporation to Bord na Mona plc.

It was to operate through subsidiaries. The Turf Development Act, 1998 (Subsidiaries) (Transfer Day) Order, 1999 provided for the transfer of the assets liabilities and undertaking of Bord na Mona plc to five subsidiary companies

In April 1999 most of the assets of Bord na Móna were transferred to its subsidiaries Bord na Móna Energy Limited, Bord na Móna Allen Peat Limited (peat energy), Bord na Móna Horticulture Limited, Bord na Móna Fuels Limited and Bord na Móna Environmental Limited.

The horticulture business was consolidated in the 1990s and early 2000s.  An investment and rationalisation package were put into effect.  State aids ruling prohibited cross subsidisation of the business.

The French companies were sold to their management team in 1998.

A contract was entered to sell the sales and marketing and distribution of Shamrock products.  This company ultimately was taken over by a Scot Company.  Bord na Móna sold the Shamrock brand to Scots yielding r cash for investment.

In 1998 the fuels division purchased a number of fuel companies rationalising coal depots and allowing Bord na Móna to trade profitably in the solid fuel market.  It acquired Suttons Oil and later acquired other oil distribution companies.

Falling market for solid fuels led to the closure of the Crohane briquette factory.

The environmental side of the business acquired EKB group of companies involved in the design and construction of wastewater treatment plant.  A three-year pilot program of investment was undertaken in a US wastewater treatment business during which time it was to establish licenses and put in place a distribution system in certain areas of USA.  Regulatory approval was achieved in 11 States by the end of the century.

The clean air business

Bord na Móna became involved in a number of wind farm energy projects.  It took a 20% stake in a consortium to building a gas-fired power station an Dunstown County Kildare. The project was ultimately abandoned   A further joint venture with Roadstone to develop larger deposits of sand and gravel area received planning permission in 2002.

The 1990s saw international campaigns for the conservation of peat land.  From 1999 Bord na Móna and the peat industry was required to obtain integrate pollution control licenses from the EPA to undertake operations., They covered all emissions from air, ground and water and regulated peat production. The Board has obtained most of the necessary licenses by 2000.

In 2004 Bord na Móna applied for o planning commission for a waste disposal facility plus management facility on former peat plant in County Kildare. The facility commenced operation in 2008. It also operated landfill facilities in Edenderry and Lough Ree power stations.

In 2007 Bord na Móna acquired a large waste management group Advanced Environmental Solutions with almost 7,000 commercial customers.

The Board acquired Edenderry power station from E. ON in 2006.  Rhodes station closed in 2001.  The Sustainable Energy Act 2002 provided a legal framework for the PSO for peat fired energy electricity generation.

Lanesborough station closed in March 2004. The 100-megawatt Loughree station was commission and opened in 2005.

Bulrush Horticulture Ltd v An Bord Pleanála; Westland Horticulture Ltd v An Bord Pleanála [2018] IEHC 58 it was decided that peat extraction was not exempt development. This covers the drainage of bogland, s peat extraction, handling activities and associated activities and works.

Peat extraction was removed from the definition of agriculture (exempt) in 2000 . Although the use maintain the exempt status their work conditions including that neither an environmental impact assessment nor appropriate assessment were required. The High Court found that the extraction constituted works and not use even below the threshold for an environmental impact assessment.


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