Galway County Council has refused planning permission sought by Coillte to fell 343ha of conifer plantations on peat soils and to put nature restoration measures, such as rewetting, in place across the site.

On the agency’s application for permission, it noted that tree removal, drain blocking and the reprofiling of land would be among the main peatland restoration measures it planned on carrying out.

The site in question is currently forested with lodgepole pine and Sitka spruce, which are managed commercially.

The authority stated that allowing Coillte’s project to go ahead as laid out in its application would contravene four areas of the county’s current development plan and go against “proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.


The decision to refuse permission noted that the site planned for restoration works lies partially in the Twelve Bens/Garraun Complex special area of conservation (SAC) and is hydrologically connected to Connemara Bog Complex SAC.

The absence of “trialled and tested” measures in Coillte’s plans to safeguard these protected sites could give rise to “potential issues” in these sites’ integrity, the authority said.

Galway County Council claimed that the potential for adverse impacts arising from the rollout of the conifer removal and restoration plans were factored into its assessment that the permission should be denied.

The plans would have required the construction of a new internal access road at site of 1.5km in length, as well as the resurfacing of up to 8.2km of existing forestry roads.

They would have also needed the construction of crossings over waterways to facilitate the harvesting of timber, the installation of deer fencing to protect over 60ha of native woodland proposed for planting and the continued control of invasive species to prevent them spreading while works were completed.