Save Leitrim launches High Court challenge against Sitka spruce development near Dromahair

Save Leitrim has launched a High Court challenge against a decision to allow what it claims is an “alien species” of tree to be planted at a site near Dromahair.

The environmental group claims the decision to allow ‘Sitka Spruce’ to be grown at a forestry development on a 13.3-hectare site at Meenymore, Dromahair is flawed
and should be quashed.

The site, which it says is in a particularly scenic location, is close to two protected sites, or Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Lough Gill and Boleybrack Mountain.

Save Leitrim says it has brought the action over its deep concerns about the “monoculture planting” of Sitka Spruce which it says can adversely impact on the local environment, ecosystems and wildlife and local people cannot compete with forestry when it comes to building up sustainable farms sizes that could provide a reasonable standard of living, it claims.

It claims that a decision to allow the forestry development go ahead was appealed to the Forestry Appeal Committee which last May approved the development.

The group in its action says the Committe erred in arriving at its decision in several respects.

It claims the screening and assessment of the site to see if the development would have any significant effects on the environment by the Committee was neither appropriate nor in accordance with EU requirements.

The committee also failed to consider the characteristics of the proposed development, including its size, relationship with other developments, pollution and other nuisances.

The group claims that the development’s potential impacts on the existing population was not properly considered and that the committee failed to consider its submissions in that regard.

Also that a public notice in relation to the proposed forest development was neither visible nor legible from the public road, and failed to give adequate notice in respect of the development.

In it’s judicial review proceedings against the Forestry Appeal Committee, Ireland and the Attorney the group seeks an order quashing the committee’s decision

It further seeks declarations that the State has failed to transpose various EU directives and regulations into domestic Irish laws including the Agriculture Appeal’s Act, the 2014 Forestry Act and the 2017 Forestry Regulations.

The action was briefly mentioned before the High Court last week, and was adjourned to a date in November.