This paper explores how participatory processes and the politics of contestation and resistance converge to influence changes in discourses and institutional structures underpinning the implementation of the European Union Habitats Directive in Ireland. It highlights the potential of environmental partnership processes to disrupt the usual scalar hierarchy for regulation. The focus is specifically on the designation of raised bogs and the role of power relations and legitimacy discourses in participatory governance processes established by government. In particular, this paper critiques the participatory governance process and attempts to legitimize the enforcement of the Habitats Directive in the face of resistance by the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association (TCCA). Whilst the purpose of the designation is to protect unique habitats, another effect has been to prohibit the traditional right to cut turf on Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). The rationale behind the designation and the mechanisms by which this process has been mediated has been highly contested, with the TCCA claiming the scope inherent in the Directive to consider the de-classification of SACs to have been inadequately addressed by government. The paper concludes with a Foucauldian critique of regulatory authority, legitimacy discourses and agency in the application of participatory processes underpinning environmental regulation.