9.2 Natural Heritage and Biodiversity
Bord na Móna carried out a rehabilitation programme across its Littleton properties in 2018-2020. Cutaway in Co. Kilkenny includes Templetouhy, Derryville and Baunmore bogs. In addition to re-wetting residual peat and reducing carbon emissions, new naturally functioning peatland habitats are in development. Already, Baunmore Bog has significant biodiversity value and is being used by breeding waders under pressure in the wider landscape, such as Lapwing and Ringed Plover. This site is also an important wetland in the winter and is used by roosting Whooper Swans. Marsh Fritillary Butterfly has also been recorded recently in Baunmore Bog (on the Killkenny side) and is just one indicator of the high biodiversity potential of these developing peatland habitats. Some drained bog remnant at Clonsaul Townland (Baunmore Bog has particularly high biodiversity value as it is secondary fen habitat and supports a diverse range of plant and animal species. This area (in BnM ownership) was also recently restored (drains blocked) as part of the Bord na Móna Littleton Bog Rehabilitation programme.
The connectivity between these bogs also provides significant green infrastructure potential that can be developed in future. There are several proposals for amenity development along the old bog railway and this can be positively integrated into the cutaway landscape without significant trade-offs to the other ecosystem services (climate, biodiversity, water).
Bord na Móna have an extensive baseline ecological survey of its lands with detailed habitat maps already prepared. Rehabilitation Plans have been developed for each bog that highlight specific areas of high local biodiversity value.
Bord na Móna are working with Coillte on a native woodland project that could be applied to those areas of cutaway that cannot be re-wetted, or where it is not appropriate to re-wet (marginal lands and headlands). The key objective of this project is to establish and accelerate the development of native woodland that would have climate action benefits. Baunmore Bog has been selected to be part of this project. In addition to delivering climate action benefits, the development of native woodland will also provide significant new habitat for a wide range of species.
We refer to the following text in Section 9.2.8 of the Draft Plan:
“Damage to peatlands can occur from domestic peat extraction, afforestation, wind farms, recreational activities and invasive species”.
“The Council will protect peatlands from inappropriate development having regard to their amenity and biodiversity value and their visual sensitivity.”
It is our view that cutaway peatland sites are particularly suited to renewable energy development. In that context, we would encourage that the importance that cutaway bogs have in terms of renewable energy generation is recognised. These lands are brownfield in nature, have limited environmental constraints and are largely removed from large numbers of sensitive receptors. They are also in close proximity to the national grid and have good road access. These factors make them prime sites for the development of large scale renewable energy projects and we feel that this should be reflected in the finalised County Development Plan in order to ensure consistency with the objectives and policies of existing National and Regional Plans.
As outlined previously Bruckana Windfarm was developed on cutaway at Templetouhy, which is partially in Co. Kilkenny. This is an example of sustainable land-use that supports the National Climate Action Plan and National and Regional policies. Bruckana Windfarm is an excellent example of how renewable energy infrastructure can be integrated into a cutaway landscape. While renewable energy infrastructure does require drainage, re-wetting is still feasible and there are several examples of re-wetted areas adjacent to renewable energy infrastructure at Bruckana.