Preparing mires for peat production and the production of peat are closely regulated activity that is subject to permits. The environmental impacts are monitored at all stages of peat production – from preparation to the end of production.
Permits are applied for from the environmental authorities i.e. the Regional State Administrative Agencies, which decide upon permit matters coming under the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Act.
The permit application includes the basic data of the project, the water treatment methods, the possible impacts on watercourses are evaluated, as are the dust and noise impacts and the other impacts on the environment in the area. An evalution of the natural values is made on all areas being prepared for peat production.
If the area is larger than 150 hectares, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) must be performed before production is started. This is an extensive evaluation of the environmental impacts and various implementation options. For areas over 150 hectares, an environmental permit can only be applied for after the EIA procedure. If necessary, the authorities may also order an EIA for smaller areas.
In the environmental permit the authorities issue instructions regarding the extent of activities, discharges and how to reduce them. The permit also includes maintenance and monitoring obligations and possible obligations for further actions and repairs.
The permit procedure takes account of national water management plans, which include data on the watercourses in the area: their state, load, the water management objectives and the water protection and management actions required. The plans are a good tool to improve the state of watercourses. The monitoring provisions for existing permits may also have to be altered to bring them in line with water management follow-up requirements.
The permit provisions stipulate monitoring of the environmental load from peat production, including the quality and quantity of the run-off water from production areas, the functioning of the peat production water protection structures, the state of the downstream watercourse and other impacts on the local environment.
Lake sediment studies also provide reliable information on the factors impacting lakes starting from the time the lakes were originally formed.