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Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C

Latest

Last week
29th January 2023 - 4th February 2023
THE MORNING LEAD
Ireland fares worst at managing protected nature sites in new EU report
A report by
Niall Sargent
Out of 10 countries, Ireland underperformed in every measure aimed at protecting at-risk species such as the curlew and corncrake.
Report examined the effectiveness of measures to protect vulnerable species in Special Protection Areas (SPAs)
No Irish case had targeted, measurable and time-bound conservation measures to deliver the favourable status of species
"Incomplete and/or irregular” monitoring of many species also found
# Island Nation
‘Always a battle’: Clare Island locals fight to improve ‘dangerous’ pier
Inaction to improve conditions cutting at the heart of islanders’ connection to the mainland.
# Island Nation
‘On its knees’: Future of island fishers on a knife edge
Islanders say authorities are failing to give support needed to save this traditional way of life.
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# Island Nation
Housing constraints ‘causing serious risk’ for islanders trying to sustain populations
Planning blockages, high building costs and no rental options are creating a housing crisis on our offshore islands.
THE MORNING LEAD
‘Fragmented and unpredictable’: Healthcare services failing island communities
A report by
Niall Sargent
Broken down ambulances, no storage for supplies and outdated clinics among a litany of healthcare provider concerns.
HSE report finds island healthcare staff working “extremely hard" with "inadequate resources”
Regular breakdowns on Arranmore have locals tow-starting ambulance to get patients to safety
Clare Island GP: Our health centre is "completely outdated and unfit for purpose"
THE MORNING LEAD
High and dry: Offshore islands a footnote in State priorities
A report by
Niall Sargent
Noteworthy talks to islanders waiting 25 years for policies to thrive and not just survive.
Islanders not directly involved in designing the State's first policy for the islands in 25 years
Our remaining 27 inhabited islands have a combined population of just 2,700 - and numbers are dropping
Islander: “There are cases of increasing population but few. It’s really hard to watch places going down.”
Last year
2022
# Lights out
‘Heads must roll’: Industry and experts argue energy crisis of ‘our own making’
Concerns flagged as early as 2014 over the need to bring new power plants online to meet energy demands.
Academic analysis shows emissions for 2022 to date are estimated to be 7% higher than last year
EPA: Options being considered will impact on the State’s ability to meet legal climate targets
The Explainer x Noteworthy: Are data centres ramping up Ireland’s emissions?
Drilling for Data: Growing energy needs fuelling rise in data centre emissions
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THE MORNING LEAD
Drilling for Data: Growing energy needs fuelling rise in data centre emissions
A report by
Niall Sargent
Noteworthy analysis reveals onsite carbon emissions are over 35 times higher within the space of a decade.
EPA is processing 12 emissions licence applications for use of back-up generators or onsite gas plants
Expert: Growth of data centres ‘wasn't something that happened organically’
THE MORNING LEAD
Staff shortages leave energy regulator scrambling to keep the lights on
A report by
Niall Sargent
Noteworthy reveals the CRU needs almost 70 more staff to deliver on its security of supply and climate roles.
Core work of the energy regulator ‘frequently delayed by a lack of staff’, Government told
Concerns over staff burnout repeatedly raised by the regulator’s risk committee
Tánaiste says to prepare for risk of amber alerts in the run-up to Christmas
# peat sake
Commission warns Ireland over ‘stalled’ action to halt extraction in protected peatlands
The State has two months to act or potentially face legal action before the European Court of Justice.
# trade off
‘Empty bellies’: Unweaned calves left without milk for long periods on journey to Europe
Department audit finds some operators not complying with feeding intervals, Noteworthy reveals.
# trade off
‘A slow, terrible death’: The fate of Irish cattle exported outside of the EU
Noteworthy finds the State has little to no control over what happens to animals once they leave Ireland.
THE MORNING LEAD
'Export loophole’: Irish cattle shipped from Spain on ‘substandard’ vessels
A report by
Niall Sargent
Thousands of cattle exported on vessels that do not meet standards required under Irish laws.
Thousands of cattle exported on vessels that do not meet standards required under Irish laws
Niall Sargent of Noteworthy reports that unwanted males from the dairy industry are among those exported
Destinations include Egypt where ‘appalling’ slaughter techniques are common
# no access
No Access: Bord na Móna companies blanket blocking release of information
Key subsidiaries say they fall outside of regulations that enable environmental information requests.
THE MORNING LEAD
Deaths of at least 80 cows in last decade linked to spreading of poultry manure
A report by
Niall Sargent
Cross-border investigation reveals concerns over regulation of the trade in poultry litter, an increasingly important natural fertiliser used on crops and vegetables.
16 farms inspected in last decade over concerns with poor spreading of poultry litter, Noteworthy reveals
In the most impactful case, 19 dairy cows died across two farms from botulism linked to litter spreading
Difficult for authorities to identify farms of origin of the litter for inspection or further action
'Canary in the coal mine': Protected nature areas under pressure from poultry farming
'Potential fraud' in poultry farm planning applications investigated in the North
# factory farm
'Canary in the coal mine': Protected nature areas under pressure from poultry farming
Cross-border investigation reveals serious environmental and air quality concerns from ammonia produced by the rapidly expanding poultry industry on the island of Ireland.
THE MORNING LEAD
'Potential fraud' in poultry farm planning applications investigated in the North
A report by
Niall Sargent
Noteworthy cross-border project reveals serious concerns over the authenticity of documents claimed to be from an Irish State body.
Falsified or altered Teagasc letters used in 23 poultry farm planning cases in the North, Noteworthy reveals
Both national and local authorities in the North are currently investigating the issue
Several cases of dumping of poultry litter discovered in Northern Ireland since 2015
# factory farm
Suspected false documents and illegal dumping: the murky world of poultry manure
Noteworthy reveals serious concerns over authenticity of files used in some poultry farm planning cases in the North and where the manure is going.
# Investigation
Peat’s Sake: Leading company under EPA spotlight for potential unlicensed extraction
Noteworthy investigation reveals Klasmann-Deilmann Ireland is one of a dozen large-scale peat extractors currently being investigated by the environmental watchdog.
The Irish branch of peat giant Klasmann-Deilmann is being investigated by the EPA in relation to peat extraction in the Midlands, writes Noteworthy’s Niall Sargent
In June 2021, the EPA warned Klasmann it was of the view that the company was committing a serious and ongoing breach of EU environmental law
Almost a dozen other large-scale peat extractors are also under investigation by the environmental watchdog
# peat sake
Peat pressure: Industrial peat extraction in enforcement firing line
Historic problems revealed in crackdown on extraction without planning permission and EPA licensing.
Historic problems in enforcement of large-scale peat extraction in Ireland has led to the loss of precious bog, writes Niall Sargent
Noteworthy investigates the case of Harte Peat found to be operating in breach of EU law
12 other peat extractors are now also subject to ongoing EPA enforcement action
# peat extraction
High Court orders peat company to halt unauthorised extraction in Midlands
Environmental Protection Agency brought injunction proceedings against Harte Peat Ltd.
# peat sake
EPA to investigate complaint about State response to peat extraction on protected bogs
The move from the environmental watchdog comes in response to a complaint from an environmental NGO about illegal cutting.
# peat extraction
EPA ‘kicked the stool’ from under peat company seeking extraction licence, High Court hears
Harte Peat Ltd is seeking to overturn the EPA’s refusal to examine its applications for a licence it made in 2019.
# peat extraction
Horticultural peat unlawfully removed ‘much like rock from a quarry’, High Court hears
Environmental Protection Agency is seeking an injunction against Harte Peat Ltd to halt peat extraction in Westmeath.
# peat extraction
Unlicensed peat extraction causing ‘irreversible’ environmental damage, High Court told
Environmental Protection Agency is seeking an injunction against Harte Peat Ltd to halt peat extraction in Westmeath.
THE MORNING LEAD
Peat was cut at 280 plots in protected bogs last year without State consent
A report by
Niall Sargent
Noteworthy analysis reveals cutting has frequently taken place at 30 protected sites over the past decade despite clear prohibitions since 2011.
The cutting of peat has frequently taken place at 30 protected sites over the past decade, writes Niall Sargent of Noteworthy
No ministerial consents have been granted by the State to allow cutting in any of the protected raised bog network sites
Just 1% of Ireland's active raised bogs remain after decades of peat-cutting and land reclamation
THE MORNING LEAD
Special branch: Over 75 cases of alleged illegal tree felling investigated last year
A report by
Niall Sargent
In several cases, trees were cut down in protected nature areas or on land previously sold to private individuals by Coillte.
Several large-scale cases still open, including the felling of 30 hectares of forest, writes Niall Sargent of Noteworthy
Removal of trees to make way for agricultural expansion is a common issue across many cases
In several instances, trees were cut down in protected nature areas or on land previously sold to private individuals by Coillte
All time
# bumper year
Noteworthy: Community-sourced ideas and crowdfunded investigations win four awards this year
The Journal’s investigative platform published 14 investigations in 2021 and scooped 4 awards.
# Endangered Species
Rare hen harrier numbers plummet as plan to protect species pushed back
Only 18 pairs of the rare raptor species reared chicks this year in areas designated to protect it – the most unproductive year on record.
THE MORNING LEAD
Crackdown sees 50 cases launched against illegal hedge cutting this year
A report by
Niall Sargent
Action by National Parks and Wildlife Service this year represents huge increase; only 70 cases were taken across the whole previous decade.
Huge crackdown on illegal cutting during bird nesting season over the past two years, writes Niall Sargent of Noteworthy
Since 2020, the wildlife service has taken as many cases to court as it did between 2010 and 2019
Over €45,000 was paid by guilty parties in fines, costs and donations to charities this year alone
# peat sake
New peat legislation slammed as ‘incompatible’ with climate targets and EU law
The Bill, fast-tracked by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail senators, would remove the need for planning permission to extract peat for horticultural sector use.
Legal experts argue that new peat legislation disregards strict EU environmental law, writes Niall Sargent as part of Noteworthy investigation of peat extraction
Bill would give planning exemption to peat extraction for horticulture and pause any ongoing enforcement action until at least 2026
Peatland experts are also concerned the Bill is ' not compatible' with our climate action goals
THE MORNING LEAD
Ireland exporting 11 times more peat than it imports - amid horticulture supply fears
A report by
Niall Sargent
Analysis from Noteworthy shows 500,000 tonnes of peat products exported so far this year amid supply concerns for the domestic market.
500,000 tonnes of peat products exported so far this year amid supply concerns for domestic horticulture market, writes Niall Sargent as part of new Noteworthy investigation
Global trade reports show Irish peat exported to mushroom industry as recently as this month
State confirms exports did not fall under remit of working group examining peat use in horticulture
# Green Jersey
Analysis: The argument that Ireland is too small to take climate action doesn’t hold up
Despite our small size, we have a significant carbon footprint in global rankings
# cash cow
A win for farming, a win for nature: scheming for sustainability
Farm subsidies to protect biodiversity need to be channelled into results-led projects.
# Endangered Species
Commission raps Ireland for 'persistently failing' to manage protected nature sites
Just over 60% of our 600-plus legally protected nature areas have conservation objectives.
# factory farm
Explosion in poultry farming in Border region poses air pollution threat
Report, seen by Noteworthy, shows over 250,000 tonnes of manure is being currently produced by the industry in Monaghan alone.
There are an estimated 18.5 million farmed chickens in Monaghan producing ammonia-laden manure.
Report, seen by Noteworthy's Niall Sargent, warns of "direct and indirect negative impacts on the environment locally".
Soil, water and air pollution an increasing concern.
# Biodiversity
Funding failure: Most of Ireland's biodiversity spend goes on schemes that have little impact
Ireland’s overall spending on biodiversity protection is also under internationally-accepted levels.
THE MORNING LEAD
Loss of Ireland's biodiversity is accelerating - and we're missing the chance to halt it
A report by
Niall Sargent
Noteworthy reveals virtually no protected sites have management plans and Ireland is moving further away from a target for effective nature conservation.
A host of iconic Irish species and habitats are under threat, writes Niall Sargent in first part of Noteworthy's investigation into biodiversity loss
Virtually none of our protected nature areas have management plans
An expert forum has labelled the State as the “biggest transgressor of environmental law in Ireland”
# Thanks To You
Noteworthy investigations reveal biggest climate emitters and violent bike theft increase
The investigative platform completed four new projects in the past three months, thanks to your contributions.
# Troubled Waters
Licence granted for large salmon farm in Bantry Bay despite strong opposition
Decision follows six-year appeals process, with opponents ‘gutted’ and ‘extremely disappointed’ with the decision.