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EPA Annual Highlights 2007

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Published  by Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland

Designed  by Yellowstone Communications Design

Printed  by Clarkin Lithographic

Environmental Protection Agency, PO Box 3000, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford, Ireland

ISBN 1-84095-260-1 01 / 08 / 4000

Contents

  1. Limiting and Adapting to Climate Change
  2. Clean Air
  3. Protected Water Resources
  4. Protected Soil and Biodiversity
  5. Sustainable Use of Resources
  6. Integration and Enforcement
  7. Building a High Performance Organisation

Welcome to the EPA Annual Highlights 2007. This report provides a summary of the EPA’s key activities and environmental and organisational outcomes achieved during 2007. The structure of the document reflects 2020Vision, the strategic framework for protecting and improving Ireland’s environment that was published by the EPA in April 2007.

The work of the EPA is carried out by its four main offices.

  • The Office of Climate, Licensing and Resource Use has a broad remit, which includes licensing large-scale industrial and waste facilities by the Licensing Unit. The Climate Change Unit is responsible for regulating and reporting on Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions and coordinating climate change research. The Resource Unit is responsible for promoting the sustainable use of resources, implementing the National Waste Prevention Programme and preparing the National Waste Report and the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan. The Office is also responsible for permitting large petrol storage facilities and granting consents for genetically modified organisms.
  • The Office of Environmental Enforcement is responsible for the enforcement of EPA licences issued for waste, industrial and other activities. It also exercises a supervisory role in relation to the environmental protection activities of local authorities. This ranges from providing advice and guidance, through to auditing performance, and, where necessary, issuing legally binding Directions.
  • The Office of Environmental Assessment co-ordinates and undertakes ambient monitoring of air and monitoring of lakes, rivers, estuaries and groundwater involving chemical, biological and hydrometric aspects, as appropriate. It supports the EPA’s licensing and enforcement functions through monitoring of emissions and various laboratory related services. It also provides sampling and laboratory assistance to local authorities.

    The Office has responsibility for a range of functions including: co-ordinating a national environmental research programme; developing and using assessment tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS); producing regular reports on environmental quality and publishing periodic State of the Environment and Indicator Reports. In addition, the Office implements key aspects of the EU Air Framework Directive and EU Water Framework Directive, operates as Ireland’s National Focal Point for the European Environment Agency (EEA), oversees Strategic Environmental Assessment and coordinates EPA activity on soils and biodiversity.

  • The Office of Communications and Corporate Services ensures, among other things, that the EPA conducts its business activities in an efficient manner, conforming to best business practice and also effectively communicates with its stakeholders and the general public. The Office is responsible for Finance, Communications, Corporate Governance, Information Technology, Human Resources, Training and Organisational services.
  • More information on EPA activities, licences, publications and newsletters can be found on the EPA website at www.epa.ie. The Environmental Protection Agency Annual Report and Accounts 2007 will be available later in 2008.

Director General’s Statement

Welcome to our annual highlights for 2007. A major milestone for the EPA during 2007 was the publication of our new corporate strategy called 2020Vision. 2020Vision is different to previous strategies published by the EPA in that it sets out long-term goals for Ireland’s environment and identifies the steps that the EPA will take in the medium term to put us on the right track for achieving these goals. We in the EPA are very conscious that the EPA is not the sole organisation with environmental protection responsibilities in Ireland and achieving the long term goals set out in 2020Vision will require the active cooperation and participation of many organisations right down to the individual citizen. The EPA, quite rightly, should be expected to provide the necessary leadership to set out what the issues and challenges are in relation to protecting and improving Ireland’s environment and this is what we have attempted to do in putting together 2020Vision. The EPA is now seeking to involve other organisations and individuals in working with it to meet the challenges that lie ahead in protecting and improving Ireland’s environment.

Goals have been set in 2020Vision under the headings of limiting and adapting to climate change, clean air, protected water resources, protected soil and biodiversity, sustainable use of resources and integration and enforcement. We have decided to re-structure our highlights report for 2007 to reflect the 2020Vision goals so that you can see how the activities being undertaken by the EPA are helping us move towards the goals that we have set for the environment.

A Watershed Year for Climate Change

Looking back in years to come, the year 2007 will be seen as a watershed year for climate change. The reports of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, the Stern Report and the Nobel Peace prize all contributed to a heightened global awareness of the fact that we are now living in a world that is experiencing climate change and that the time for action is short if we are to avoid the potentially calamitous impacts that climate change might bring about. The agreement in Bali at the end of the year brings added hope that the global community will face up to the immense challenges facing us. Back home in Ireland, the EPA, through its research programme, published a series of reports on climate change, which set out what the likely impacts of climate change would be in Ireland. Towards the end of the year, the EPA hosted the first two of a seven part series of public lectures on climate change. We were pleasantly surprised by the high level of public interest in the lectures. Over 400 people attended both talks and I look forward to the remaining talks in 2008.

Engaging Our Stakeholders

I am particularly interested in exploring ways in which the EPA can engage in a meaningful way with the public and our other stakeholders. During 2007, we continued to work with An Taisce in piloting the Green Home programme which is being built on the back of the very successful Green Schools programme. We want this to grow into a programme where entire communities can work together to become more environmentally aware. Further development of the Green Home programme will be an important task for 2008.

Through our licensing and enforcement systems and our handling of environmental complaints, our inspectors also have regular contact with individuals and communities. During 2007, we launched the See Something Say Something campaign and leaflet with our enforcement network partners, which explains what to do and who to contact when you have an environmental complaint. This is making it easier for people to bring pollution issues to the attention of the correct authorities. Complaint investigation and resolution can sometimes be contentious, particularly when there is no easy solution to the issue at hand. This can bring local communities into conflict with the EPA where communities get frustrated with what they see as a lack of action by the EPA and the licence holder in dealing with a particular issue. The issue of most concern during 2007 was the level of complaint about odours at landfills and other waste facilities licensed by the EPA. During 2007, the EPA carried out extensive investigations at several of the landfills that we licence to build up a picture of the nature and extent of the issue. We have taken legal proceedings where it has been possible to secure a conviction for odour nuisance and are working with the licensees to address the problem. Dealing with odour issues from waste management facilities licensed by the EPA will be a key priority for 2008 and we will keep local communities informed of our actions to deal with the issue.

In mid-2007, we launched a new web site together with a map facility called ENVision that allows anyone to find information about the quality of the environment in which they live. The electronic Document Management System on the web site has also been a great success with many people using the web site to get relevant documentation on licensed facilities instead of seeking it from our offices. We are also now providing real-time information on air quality on our web site and plan to add additional features to the site during 2008 to make it even easier for people to get information from the EPA.

Water Issues

Water protection continues to be a major challenge for us in Ireland. On the one hand we are blessed with an abundant supply of fresh water but on the other we are blighted by the failure to properly plan for its protection. This was most pointedly illustrated by the outbreak of Cryptosporidium in Galway City and County in March 2007 which left over 90,000 people having to boil their water for a period of nearly six months. This was avoidable, both through better protection of the drinking water supply, which would have prevented Lough Corrib from becoming contaminated, and through ensuring that the drinking water treatment plant was capable of providing a reliable defence against contamination.

At the same time as this out break occurred, the EPA was made responsible for overseeing the supply of drinking water by public authorities. The EPA used its new powers to bring about a resolution to the problem in the shortest possible time frame and we are now focusing our efforts on the many public water supplies that are at risk of failing to supply good quality drinking water either through inadequate source protection or inadequate treatment. In late 2007, the EPA was also made responsible for licensing urban waste water treatment plants. I welcome both of these developments as they should bring a much greater degree of rigour and accountability to the management of both drinking water supply and waste water treatment by local authorities.

During 2007, we also made good progress in implementing the Water Framework Directive and solid foundations are being laid for much better water management in Ireland in the future as a result of this work. It is important, though, to ensure that the necessary structures are put in place at River Basin District level that will enable local authorities to implement their many functions and responsibilities in the area of water protection and management.

Licensing and Enforcement

2007 has been a busy year for both licensing and enforcement. In the licensing area, 121 final decisions were made on licence applications, including the granting of a licence to Shell E&P Ireland for a gas refinery and combustion plant in Co. Mayo following an Oral Hearing. Proposed decisions were also made in relation to a proposed new landfill in Fingal and a proposed incinerator in Dublin.

During 2007, the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement continued to use its enforcement powers both to enforce EPA licences and to bring about improved and more consistent enforcement by local authorities. Twelve prosecution cases were successfully disposed of at a District Court level during 2007 with a further 33 cases at various stages of preparation at year-end. Three further detailed criminal investigations were carried out resulting in the submission of two files to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and a third in preparation. Seven binding directions were served on local authorities in relation to waste management and water management issues and this enforcement tool is now proving very useful for obtaining good environmental outcomes.

The majority of the over 700 sites that are now licensed by the EPA largely comply with their licences with three out of 532 IPPC facilities accounting for 38 per cent of complaints and four out of 193 waste facilities accounting for over 67 per cent of complaints. The EPA is committed to ensuring that persistent offenders are brought before the Courts to account for their actions. Where necessary, other enforcement options such as licence review and seeking relief from the High Court are also being used to good effect.

Waste Prevention

Over the past few years our focus on waste management has mainly been on better enforcement and we now have a much tighter and more effective enforcement regime in Ireland. The emphasis is now shifting to waste prevention as we attempt to reverse the disturbing trend of ever increasing quantities of waste. During 2007, the EPA made good progress on implementing the National Waste Prevention Programme. A cornerstone of waste prevention is the Local Authority Prevention Demonstration Programme, which is now operating in 14 local authority areas. The aim of this programme is to help local authorities design and implement waste prevention at local level. The Greening Irish Hotels project is also an excellent example of how waste prevention can be applied in a very practical way by Irish businesses. Waste prevention is an objective that every sector needs to engage in and the EPA is committed to playing its part in heightening awareness about its importance.

Environmental Research

2007 was also an important year for our environmental research initiatives. In October, we launched our new research programme, called STRIVE (Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for the Environment). Funding for environmental research continues to grow in Ireland with €93 million provided over the lifetime of the National Development Plan. This provides a major opportunity for Ireland to build research and development capacity and to become a world leader in niche areas. During 2007, 29 research projects came to completion and all of our research reports are available on our web site providing a valuable resource to anyone with an interest in environmental protection.

Next Steps

I am committed to continuing to build the EPA into a high performance organisation. The EPA will celebrate its fifteenth birthday in 2008 and will be facing the challenge of taking on new responsibilities including the licensing of wastewater treatment plants. To meet these challenges we need to ensure that robust corporate governance and organisational support structures are in place. Our programme of internal audit is helping us to identify any areas where improvement is needed and I want to thank the members of our Internal Audit committee for their assistance in this during 2007.

A particular highlight of the year was Minister John Gormley’s visit to our Headquarters in Wexford where he addressed staff on the challenges ahead for Ireland’s environment.

Finally, I would like to thank the staff of the EPA, my fellow Directors, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the EPA Advisory Committee, the GMO Advisory Committee, the National Allocation Advisory Group, the National Waste Prevention Committee and the Enforcement Network Steering Committee for their support and commitment during the year and for their dedication to protecting the environment. I look forward to working with them all to meet the challenges for 2008.

Dr. Mary Kelly
Director General, EPA, December 2007

1. Limiting and Adapting to Climate Change

2020 Goal

Ireland will achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and will be prepared for the unavoidable impact of climate change.

New Climate Change Unit

In order to best meet the challenges posed by climate change, and to streamline and unify our response, the EPA created a Climate Change Unit in June 2007 by merging activities carried out in Emissions Trading with the Inventories, Projections, Climate Change Research and Air & Climate Science areas.

Emissions Trading

The EPA is responsible for implementing emissions trading of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Ireland. The scheme applies to large producers of GHGs – such as the cement and power generation industries as well as other large users of fossil fuels.

A National Emissions Trading Registry, which ensures the accurate accounting of the issue, transfer, cancellation and surrender of emission allowances within the Emissions Trading Scheme is accessible at www.etr.ie.

At the end of 2007, 111 installations covered by the emissions trading scheme in Ireland held valid permits requiring them to monitor and report emissions and surrender allowances in accordance with the Regulations.

In 2007:

  • All operators once again surrendered the required amount of allowances by April 30 to match their verified emissions ensuring that Ireland was 100% compliant with the scheme. As Registry Operator, we successfully retired Ireland’s 2006 allowances, as required by the Directive, on 30 June 2007.
  • A second public consultation of Ireland’s second National Allocation Plan (for the period 2008 - 2012) was held in October. Over 20 submissions were received and views expressed will be taken into account prior to finalising the Plan in early 2008.
  • In September 2007, Ireland received a favorable result on the Independent Assessment Report of the National Registry, the fifth country to pass this milestone worldwide.

Other Kyoto Protocol ‘Mechanisms’

In 2007, the EPA finalised the procedures for issuing Letters of Approval for Irish project participants in the Kyoto Protocol (project based) flexible mechanisms. In January 2007, the EPA issued the first Letter of Approval internationally in respect of a project under the Kyoto Protocol’s Joint Implementation mechanism. In November 2007, the EPA issued Ireland’s first Letter of Approval in respect of a project under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development mechanism.

Figure 1: Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2002- 2006

National Emissions Inventories

The EPA submitted data regarding Ireland’s annual greenhouse gas emissions to the EU and to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and during the year the national inventories for 2005 were published.

No questions of implementation were identified with regard to the review of Ireland’s initial report, which was held in conjunction with a review of the 2006 submission under the Framework Convention. EPA inventory experts were also engaged in reviews of the initial reports of Hungary, Luxembourg and Iceland under the Kyoto protocol and in the centralised review of the 2006 submissions of the US, Australia and Croatia under the UNFCCC.

National Greenhouse and Acid Gas Projections

In 2007, under the revised National Climate Change Strategy, the EPA was designated responsibility for developing annual national emission projections for greenhouse gases and acidifying gases. In the past, national projections have been produced to meet specific requirements such as to inform the development of the National Allocations Plans under the EU ETS and the development of national programmes under the NEC Directive. Since the designation, the EPA has been developing an approach that will improve the quality and robustness of national emission projections.

Air & Climate Science

During 2007, the EPA:

  • Played a leading role in providing national input to the IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4) on Climate Change.
  • Represented Ireland at the finalisation of the IPCC reports on the scientific understanding of climate change, climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.
  • Initiated a joint scientific event on GHG emissions from agriculture with New Zealand. This work is being further developed through an international cooperation programme.
  • Represented Ireland on the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Advisory Council and at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Bali.
  • Contributed to the development of a European Space Agency’s call on utilisation of Earth Observations focused on Ireland.

Research Initiatives

Reports published on:

  • Key Meteorological Indicators of Climate Change in Ireland
  • Implications of the EU Climate Protection Target for Ireland
  • Climate Change: Estimation of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases from Agriculture and Strategies for Reduction
  • Climate Change: Modelling Carbon Fluxes from Irish Peatlands

During 2007, a new Climate Change Research Programme was established. A total of 30 valid applications were submitted to the Programme by the 31st July closing date. External experts evaluated the proposals and the list of projects recommended for funding was approved by the EPA Board in September. Thirteen projects and four fellowships will be awarded in the first round of funding before the end of the year. The budget commitment for these projects amounts to €8.7m.

Communications and Customer Service Initiatives

  • Launch of a public lecture series as an awareness raising activity to promote the understanding of climate change facts and issues. Over 400 people attended the first two lectures that were held at the end of November.
  • The establishment of a Climate Change Research Co-ordination Committee. This committee brings together all of the funding agencies and departments with an interest in climate change research. The main aim of the committee is to encourage co-operation on a national framework for climate change research and a timeframe for delivery of key priorities under that programme.

2. Clean Air

2020 Goal

Our air will be healthy and clean. Ireland’s emissions to the atmosphere will meet all international and national targets.

Air Quality

Air Quality in Ireland in 2006 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality provided an overview of ambient air quality trends based on monitoring data from 24 stations. The report found that:

  • Air quality was good throughout the country, meeting all EU standards.
  • Levels of particulate matter (PM10) were highest in smaller towns due to limited use of smokeless fuel.
  • Levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10) due to traffic are potentially of concern in urban centres, should further increases occur.
  • Average concentrations of particulate matter (PM10) were similar in all population centres as the larger towns and cities now use smokeless fuel.

The graph overleaf illustrates trends in PM10 concentrations in Dublin, Cork and Galway between 2000 and 2006.

Air Monitoring Network

All air monitoring activity throughout the country is available, using a map-based interface, on the EPA web site. The map on page 12 shows the locations of current monitoring sites (green dots) and towns where assessment reports have been prepared (blue dots).

During 2007, monitoring was completed at all 15 medium-sized towns (Zone C) in Ireland. New monitoring sites in 2007 included Waterford, Navan and Passage West (Cork Harbour). Quality is assured by participation in Europe-wide intercomparisons for inorganic gases, metals and volatile organic compounds.

Environmental Noise Mapping

The Environmental Noise Regulations 2006 designate noise-mapping bodies and action planning authorities for the making of strategic noise maps and action plans. Primary responsibility for both of these functions is assigned to local authorities. The Environmental Protection Agency is designated as the National Authority for the purpose of the Regulations and our role includes supervisory, advisory and coordination functions in relation to both noise mapping and action planning, as well as reporting requirements for the purpose of the Directive.

The first tranche of strategic noise maps for Ireland was completed during the year. Ireland reported on progress in fulfilling its obligations under the Environmental Noise Regulations to the EU Commission by the end of 2007. These strategic noise maps will be available via the EPA’s ENVision mapping system on the EPA website during 2008.

Environmental Odour Monitoring

During 2007, the EPA conducted extensive odour assessments at EPA licensed landfills. This involved:

  • assessment of landfills by experts specialising in detection and measurement of odour and landfill gas management;
  • increased on-site presence by enforcement personnel to:
    • undertake odour assessments (using the EPA’s standard procedure),
    • verify odour complaints from residents in the environs of the landfills, and
    • observe odour management practices on-site.

The results of this work are continuing to inform the enforcement plans for these sites.

Ozone Depleting Substances, Polychlorinated Bi-Phenyls and Persistent Organic Pollutants

The EPA is leading the implementation and enforcement of the Regulations concerning Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), Polychlorinated Bi-phenyls (PCBs) and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Control of the use of and waste generation from these substances is important for the protection of air, waters and land. Information and guidance has been developed and disseminated on an on-going basis by a variety of means including seminars and the EPA webpages. Inspections and, in some cases, further enforcement actions have been undertaken.

Research Initiatives

Figure 2: PM10 concentrations in Dublin, Cork and Galway between 2000 and 2006

  • The release of a research report identifying the sources and characteristics of Particulate Matter (PM) pollutants between 10 and 2.5 micrometres in size (PM10and PM2.5) in Ireland. This report concluded that PM10 levels in Ireland lie within the range of other European countries and are similar to those in the UK, but with a more marked maritime influence seen in higher sea salt concentrations in the coarse particle mode.
  • Award of new integrated research project investigating ozone levels, changes and trends in Ireland.

Map 1: Air Monitoring Network Locations in Ireland

Communications and Customer Service Initiatives

  • During 2007, real-time air quality information was made available alongside other environmental data on the new EPA web-site through ENVision, an interactive map-based facility. Up to date air quality information can be viewed through this facility at locations around Ireland where air quality is monitored (see Map 1).
  • Air Quality Bulletin for PM10 and Ozone emailed monthly to about 200 interested parties and groups.
  • Publication of Report on Air Quality in Ireland in 2006 – Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality.
  • Regional information on air quality was distributed to all local and regional newspapers following the publication of the Air Quality in Ireland report. This resulted in 22 articles on air quality appearing in local and regional newspapers.

3. Protected Water Resources

2020 Goal

Our surface water and groundwater will not be depleted and will be of excellent quality, meeting all national and international standards.

Water Quality

Water Quality in Ireland 2006 – Key Indicators of the Aquatic Environment was published in October and provides summary statistics on the latest information regarding water quality.

The report findings showed:

  • 71 per cent of river channel length and 92 per cent of lake surface area examined were of satisfactory water quality.
  • 19 per cent of the estuarine/coastal water bodies examined were eutrophic (over-enriched) while 3 per cent were potentially eutrophic.
  • 57 per cent of the groundwater sampling locations were contaminated by faecal coliforms.
  • Approximately 25 per cent of the groundwater locations examined exceeded the national guideline value for nitrate concentration for drinking water with two per cent breaching the mandatory limit.
  • The overall quality of bathing waters in Ireland remains very good.
  • The number of fish kills, while reduced compared to 2005, remains at an unacceptably high level.

Figure 3 overleaf illustrates recent trends in water quality in Irish rivers.

Figure 3: Water Quality Trends in Irish Rivers 1987- 2006

Water Framework Directive

The Water Framework Directive represents the most significant development in the field of EU water policy to date. The Directive provides an overarching framework and programme to deliver long-term protection of water. It aims at protecting existing high and good status water, preventing further deterioration of water quality and restoring all degraded ground and surface waters to good status. In 2007:

  • The EPA sent to the European Commission a summary report of the Water Framework Directive Monitoring Programme in March 2007. Implementation of this new monitoring programme commenced in January 2007 and full implementation of the EPA aspects of the programme was achieved from July onwards.
  • The European Commission published a report on the performance of European Union Member States in implementing the Water Framework Directive. Ireland scored highest in meeting the reporting requirements of Article 3 and Article 5 of the Directive.
  • The EPA published Proposed Quality Standards for Surface Water Classification for consultation in July 2007. Comments received were taken into account in finalising the programme.

Hydrometric Programme

The objectives of the Hydrometric Programme are to produce good quality, relevant data on flows and water levels in order to support the design of major infrastructure, for example, water supply abstractions and bridge building, as well as undertaking monitoring in support of environmental goals such as those of the Water Framework Directive. The latter Directive underlines the need to understand the interactions between surface water and groundwater and so the monitoring of important springs is now becoming a priority and new monitoring boreholes are being planned. The predicted impacts of climate change in Ireland, as elsewhere, point to changing rainfall patterns with consequent implications for water resources and the availability of water supplies; this underlines the continuing need for hydrometric monitoring including rivers, lakes and groundwater.

Bathing Water Quality

The Bathing Water Quality Report was launched on 11 May 2007. The report found that the overall level of bathing water quality in 2006 remained high – 97 per cent of bathing areas complied with the mandatory standards and 90 per cent of bathing areas complied with the much stricter EU guideline standards. However, a small number of bathing areas did not conform to the minimum mandatory standards.

Local authorities are being encouraged to designate more bathing sites, to help ensure the protection of public health related to swimming. (See Map 2 on page 16, also available on the EPA website).

Drinking Water Quality

In March, 2007, the EPA was granted new powers in the drinking water area. The EPA is now the supervisory authority for public water supplies. Public water suppliers (sanitary authorities) are required to notify the EPA of breaches of drinking water standards and to comply with any directions given by the EPA. Sanitary authorities have similar powers in relation to private water supplies (i.e. group water schemes). The Health Service Executive was also given a statutory role in relation to the protection of human health and must be consulted both by the sanitary authority and the EPA where there is a potential risk to human health arising from a problem with a drinking water supply.

During 2007, the EPA served 22 directions on sanitary authorities about drinking water issues, including a direction to Galway City Council in relation to the Cryptosporidium crisis. The EPA has focused its efforts during 2007 on identifying the areas of greatest risk to both the security and safety of drinking water supply in Ireland and the steps that need to be taken to minimise these risks. Over 300 public water supplies are not considered to be sufficiently secure for the continuous provision of clean and wholesome drinking water and tackling this problem will be a priority issue for the EPA in 2008.

Figure 4: EU Comparison of Member State Compliance with Water Framework Directive Reporting

Urban Waste Water

During 2007, the EPA continued to use its supervisory powers over local authorities to drive improvements in the operation and management of waste water treatment plants. The Office of Environmental Enforcement carried out 16 audits of local authorities during 2007 to determine the level of compliance with legislation relevant to the management of waste water. As part of the audit process and in follow up inspections to investigate complaints, 37 waste water treatment plants were inspected in 2007.

The EPA issued a number of statutory notices to local authorities during 2007. These notices were issued under Section 63 of the EPA Acts 1992 and 2003. Notices were issued following audits carried out by the EPA or for the investigation of environmental complaints. Actions included the investigation of complaints about odours from treatment plants, investigation of discharges to waters and follow up on bathing waters that failed the mandatory standards.

Research Initiatives

Four technical research reports that developed novel methodologies for characterising water bodies and determining reference baseline conditions were published.

A major project investigating eutrophication from agricultural sources was completed. The report:

  • identified the importance of considering a range of soil physical and chemical characteristics in developing measures for managing nutrient losses from agriculture to water;
  • suggested the need to focus more targeted mitigation measures in high risk areas for nutrient loss from agriculture to water; and
  • underpinned the basis of existing advice and measures for reducing nutrient losses from agriculture to water.

Three new water research teams were established in the area of eco-toxicology, nanotechnology and modeling. These new five-year initiatives, which will commence in early 2008, will support three post-doctoral researchers and 6 new PhD studentships.

Communications & Customer Service Initiatives

  • During 2007, the EPA made water quality information on rivers, lakes, estuaries, groundwater and bathing areas available to the public on the new EPA web-site through ENVision, the interactive map-based facility. Using this facility, you can now find out about water quality in your local area.
  • The EPA organised a National Water Conference in Galway, June 12-13, 2007, attended by over 200 delegates.
  • The EPA published the following reports:
    • Water Quality in Ireland 2006 – Key Indicators of the Aquatic Environment.
    • Drinking Water, Urban Waste Water and Bathing Water reports.
    • Drinking Water Regulations Guidance booklet.
  • Regional information on bathing water quality was distributed to all local and regional newspapers following the publication of the Bathing Water Report. This resulted in 22 articles on bathing water quality appearing in local and regional newspapers.

Map 2: Bathing Water Quality Map of Ireland 2006

4. Protected Soil and Biodiversity

2020 Goal

The soil of Ireland will be protected from contamination and loss and will support dependant plants and animals. Our biodiversity will be protected and managed for future generations.

New Soils & Biodiversity Unit

A new soils and biodiversity unit has been established within the EPA to coordinate EPA work in this area. The unit will also work with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and other agencies and groups involved in protecting biodiversity.

Environmental Legacy Issues

Ireland, in common with most developed countries, is dealing with environmental legacy issues such as old landfill sites, abandoned mine sites and contaminated land. Progress is being made in relation to these issues but it will take many years before all legacy issues have been dealt with. Below are highlights of work conducted during 2007 to tackle legacy issues.

Risk Assessment - Old Waste Sites

There are approximately 300 old waste sites in Ireland dotted all around the country. These are typically what were known in the past as the ‘town dump’. There are also a much smaller number of illegal waste sites, most of which were created between 1998 and 2002 and which mainly contain construction and demolition waste. In April 2007, the EPA published a Code of Practice that provides a framework for the identification of these sites, the assessment of the potential risks associated with them and the identification of the appropriate remedial measures or corrective actions required to minimise risk to the environment and human health.

Following the publication of the Code, the EPA trained local authority staff on its use and application. Local authorities are now implementing the Code and the EPA is overseeing its implementation.

Abandoned Mines Project

In February 2006, the EPA and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Geological Survey of Ireland and Exploration and Mining Division) embarked on a joint project to carry out detailed site investigations at priority historic mine sites, to assess their potential risk to human health and safety and the wider environment and to make recommendations in relation to the future management of these sites. International experts in geostability and risk assessment are advising on the project.

To date over 100 metal and coal mine sites have been investigated and detailed geochemical analysis and geostability assessment have been undertaken (see Map 3). Over 300 mine waste volumes have been calculated, with the sizes ranging from several hundred tonnes to over several million tonnes. Structural stability of over 500 features have been assessed which includes tailings dams, adits, slopes, shafts, mine water bodies and buildings. Detailed sampling protocols have been developed and a draft ranking methodology has been designed. It is expected that this project will be completed in 2008.

Contaminated Land

In 2007, the OEE investigated a complaint concerning heavy metal contamination at South Park, Claddagh, Galway City. The OEE sought a report from Galway City Council on its investigations and requested that it provide a risk assessment and proposals for remedial measures. In April 2007 the OEE considered the risk assessment carried out to be satisfactory and agreed the long-term remedial proposal to cap the northern section of the site with clean soil. In December 2007 the fields were returned to recreational use.

Map 3: Location of Historic Mines Sites in Ireland under Investigation

Land Cover - Corine

In addition to their immediate effect on soil quality, land use practices have implications for the quality of air and water. Unsustainable land use changes impose additional pressures on the environment. Knowledge of such changes is a prerequisite in evaluating the effect of public policy. The EPA commissioned a land cover/land use map of Ireland as part of the European Corine Land Cover initiative, in which the European Environment Agency coordinates land cover mapping of most of Europe. An update of Corine Land Cover for Ireland for 2006 is under way and will be completed in Summer 2008.

National Soils Archive

An EPA funded research project produced a national baseline database for soils geochemistry in Ireland. The resulting National Soil Archive comprises both soil samples and a nucleic acids archive. The data from the samples will become available to the general public in March 2008 from the EPA Environmental Research Centre website (http://coe.epa.ie/safer).

Research Initiatives

  • Completion and publication of a significant research project Towards a National Soil Database. A national baseline database of soil geochemistry has been established in Ireland for the first time.
  • Completion and publication of the five year research project BIOFOREST co-funded with COFORD. The key message from this work was that plantation forests can make a good contribution to biodiversity in the landscape if properly planned and managed. The study looked at plants, birds, spiders and other invertebrate animals in over 100 forest sites throughout the country before planting and at different stages of the forest cycle and also investigated the impacts of forest practice to improve biodiversity. Fifty-eight recommendations were made in the BIOFOREST project report. These range from strategic planning to localised planning and practice and the consideration of biodiversity in forest establishment and management.
  • Completion of desk scoping study on developing a digital soil information system for Ireland.
  • Commitment in 2007 of €1.7m for new researcher awards (PhD, Post-Doctorates) to 14 individual researchers.

Communications & Customer Service Initiatives

  • During 2007, the EPA made land cover, soil and sub-soil information available to the public on the new EPA web site through ENVision, the interactive map-based facility. Using this facility, you can now find out about soil and sub-soil type and land cover in your local area. The

5. Sustainable Use of Resources

2020 Goal

The overall goal is a more efficient use of resources (water, energy and materials). Waste will be prevented and minimised, with the balance safely collected, recycled or recovered. Final disposal will be completed in a way that does not harm the environment.

New Resource Use Unit

The new Resource Use Unit in the EPA leads the National Waste Prevention Programme, which aims to reverse the trend towards increased resource use and waste generation in Ireland. This includes reducing wasteful use of materials as well as excessive water and energy consumption.

National Waste Prevention Programme

In 2007, the third annual report for the programme was published. The National Waste Prevention Committee continued to provide valuable strategic advice on all of the National Waste Prevention Programme projects.

The Local Authority Prevention Demonstration Programme (LAPD), which promotes waste prevention through local authorities, was extended to include 14 authorities. This national initiative is now showing how waste can be prevented in a wide variety of participating businesses and sectors. Its findings are providing the template for similar waste prevention projects nationwide.

A Green Business Initiative was developed with an online resource audit tool backed up by expert advisors and a hotline. Case Studies Implementation projects arising from the EPA Cleaner Greener Production Programme were further developed for dissemination. The Green Business Initiative will be officially launched in 2008 as a package of measures to help reduce wastage in Irish businesses.

Also in 2007, the EPA launched a Packaging Prevention Programme with Repak (the packaging waste compliance body) who are leading the programme. Case studies were developed and disseminated through seminars and on a new website at www.preventandsave.ie.

The EPA has integrated into all National Waste Prevention Programme projects consideration of domestic or industrial consumption of water, energy as well as material resources. Any organisation undertaking waste audits or prevention programmes will be encouraged to reduce consumption of all relevant resources. Strategic linkages have been made with Sustainable Energy Ireland, which provides expert advice in relation to significant energy issues that arise.

Producer Responsibility Initiatives

The Resource Use Unit has responsibility for the enforcement or promotion of a range of Producer Responsibility Initiatives (PRI). These are legal and economic instruments that require producers (manufacturers and importers) to take financial and other responsibilities for waste generated by the products that they market. Examples include:

  • Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations;
  • Packaging Regulations;
  • Other Regulations in relation to restricting hazardous components in products including the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and the Deco-paints Regulations;
  • Solvents Regulations.

The Resource Use Unit has engaged extensively with each of the diverse commercial sectors involved with these Regulations to assure effective implementation of the law. An extensive programme of guidance, communication, inspection and enforcement follow up has been engaged in during 2007 and opportunities for waste prevention, hazardous material substitution, the adoption of greener operational practices as well as eco-design or re-use have been identified and promoted.

Where local authorities have significant roles in PRI enforcement, for example with packaging or WEEE, their capacity has been developed directly through the OEE Environmental Enforcement Network.

National Waste Reporting

Early in 2007, the National Waste Report for arisings in 2005 was published stimulating good debate on the issues in the media and community generally. Statistical work on 2006 arisings was completed in 2007.

National Hazardous Waste Management Plan

Following extensive consultation and research, a Proposed National Hazardous Waste Management Plan and Environmental Report was published in 2007. A Strategic Environmental Assessment was conducted as the proposed plan was being developed and this is documented in the Environmental Report. The proposed plan sets out the facts on hazardous waste arisings and management. Recommendations are made in relation to hazardous waste prevention; improved collection rates as well as environmentally sound treatment and disposal.

Research Initiatives

  • Completion of Cleaner Greener Production Programme - Phase 2. Phase 2 of the Programme took place over a 24 month period between 2005 and 2007. There were 22 organisations funded representing an EPA commitment of €1m. In total, more than 150 organisations were involved in the programme (due to the networking nature of some of the projects, and partnerships in others ). Significant improvements, both economic and environmental have been made.

    These included:

    • Greater than 250,000 tonnes per annum reduction in input and output streams (water, wastewater, waste);
    • Greater than 660 MWh per annum energy reduction;
    • Greater than €1.6 million cost savings per annum.
  • Completion and publication of a number of highly topical research projects including energy crops in Ireland, biological approaches to nutrient removal in the Irish food sector, sustainable tourism, Greening Ireland’s Hotels, and a nationwide review of pay-by-use waste collection charges.

Communications & Customer Service Initiatives

  • The EPA held a Waste Enforcement Conference on 24-25 October in Wexford attended by waste enforcement personnel from Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • Engaged in public consultation for the Proposed National Hazardous Waste Management Plan.
  • The National Waste Report and National Waste Prevention Programme report were published.
  • The Greening Irish Hotels initiative was launched.
  • Regional information on WEEE was disseminated to local and regional media.
  • Articles were placed in targeted websites and journals to raise awareness about producer responsibility obligations.
  • Presentation of the Cleaner Greener Production Programme as a European Exemplar Programme of Eco-Innovation in Brussels in April.

6. Integration and Enforcement

2020 Goal

Environmental considerations will be at the heart of policy-making and decision-making. Responsible environmental behaviour will be the norm across all sectors of society and those who flout environmental laws will be held to account.

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Licensing

The IPPC licensing system emphasises waste prevention with the aim of reducing emissions to air, water and land, reducing waste overall and using energy efficiently. Large-scale or complex industrial processes with significant polluting potential require an IPPC licence.

In 2007:

  • All IPPC licences, other than those for the intensive agriculture sector, were reviewed for compliance with the IPPC Directive requirements by the deadline of 30th September.
  • 31 licences were subjected to a detailed review.
  • 53 IPPC licences were granted while 4 licence applications were either withdrawn or abandoned. In addition 60 Proposed Decisions were issued. Technical amendments were made to 22 licences in accordance with the licensing regulations. Technical amendments provide for the correction of clerical errors or amendment of conditions in a licence to bring it into conformity with the requirements of the IPPC Directive or to facilitate the operation of the licence.
  • A High Court judgement was delivered in favour of the EPA in the judicial review case of Donal Brady v EPA. The decision in this case also applies to Glanbia Farms Limited v EPA and Laragan Farms v EPA. The licensee has appealed this judgement to the Supreme Court.
  • A licence was granted to Shell E&P Ireland Limited, for a facility located in County Mayo following an oral hearing. A draft licence was issued to the Aughinish Alumina plant in Limerick.

Waste Licensing

The Waste Management Act, 1996, gives the EPA responsibility for the licensing of all significant waste recovery and disposal facilities managed by local authorities and private operators. Stringent conditions are placed on the operation of facilities under the waste licensing process to ensure potential environmental impacts are strictly controlled.

In 2007:

  • The EPA granted new or revised licenses to 5 waste transfer stations, 2 materials recovery facilities, 2 Integrated Waste Management facilities and 2 Compost facilities.
  • 2 licences were refused to South East Recycling and Carbury Compost Ltd.
  • 14 Proposed Decisions were issued.
  • 15 Technical Amendments were issued.

Draft licences were issued to Fingal County Council for a new Landfill in North County Dublin and to Dublin City Council for an incinerator in the Poolbeg Peninsula.

Details of all EPA licences are available at the licensing section of our website www.epa.ie.

Table 1: Licensing Activities in 2007
 

IPPC Licences

Waste Licences

GMO Consents

VOC Licences

Certificates of Registration

Applications considered

123

37

50

12

90

Proposed Decisions

60

14

N/A

12

N/A

Objections received

63

30

N/A

N/A

N/A

Final Decisions

53

13

43

12

90

Waste Water Discharge Licensing

The licensing function of the EPA was extended in September 2007 when the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government brought into effect the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations (S.I. No. 684 of 2007). These regulations require local authority urban waste water discharges to be subject to a licensing and authorisation process. The licensing process commenced in December 2007 with the first tranche of applications being made to the EPA. The final group of applications are to be submitted by 22nd June 2009. The licensing process applies to agglomerations greater than 500 population equivalent while a certification process, which commences in 2009, applies to all agglomerations below that threshold.

Significant work was done in advance of the Regulations being finalised with information seminars held at a number of locations for local authorities and all other interested bodies. Application and guidance forms have been published and are available on-line. Provision is being made to provide public access to all applications at www.epa.ie. It is estimated that some 480 agglomerations will be subject to the licensing process.

Certificates of Registration

The EPA uses Certificates of Registration to regulate low risk local authority waste recovery facilities.

In 2007, the EPA issued 90 Certificates of Registration.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

The EPA is the competent authority in Ireland for the implementation of the GMO Regulations on the contained use, the deliberate release into the environment and the transboundary movement of GMOs.

By the end of 2007:

  • There were 234 entries on the register of GMO users in Ireland. More than 96 per cent of these relate to contained use, the majority of which are third-level research laboratories classified as being of negligible risk.
  • 43 consents were granted for the contained use of GMOs and site inspections were carried out on nine GMO contained use premises.

At European level, one consent was granted for placing GMOs on the market (deliberate release) within the European Union and the EPA played an active role in this regulatory procedure on behalf of Ireland.

GMO enforcement site inspections were carried out at 12 GMO registered premises during 2007.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

The purpose of The Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 (Control of volatile organic compound emissions resulting from the storage of petrol and its distribution) Regulations, 1997 is to control volatile organic compound emissions resulting from petrol storage and distribution terminals. The EPA uses a permitting process to regulate these activities.

In 2007, the EPA reviewed 12 VOC Permits.

Licence Enforcement

Licences granted by the EPA provide for the control and enforcement of specified activities and the protection of all environmental media in one document. The enforcement work of the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) includes the auditing and inspection of licensed sites to assess compliance and environmental performance, the sampling and assessment of emissions and the provision of guidance and information on best practice.

The investigation of complaints and incidents and the direction and supervision of corrective actions accounts for a significant part of enforcement of licensed sites. Facilities continually showing significant non-compliance with relevant legislation or presenting a serious risk to the environment are targeted for legal action.

Details on all Waste and IPPC licences can be viewed on the licensing section of www.epa.ie.

In 2007:

  • EPA inspectors conducted 131 audits and 900 inspections of licensed IPPC and Waste facilities;
  • Compliance meetings were held with senior management at 93 facilities to emphasis the level of non-compliance and the consequence of continued non-compliance;
  • Licensed facilities were monitored 1,097 times for air, water and noise emissions in 2007;
  • 683 non-compliance notices were served in 2007;
  • The main non-compliance issues encountered related to waste management, containment and exceedences of emission limits at facilities;
  • The number of complaints made to the EPA in relation to IPPC facilities and Waste facilities numbered 374 and 1,760 respectively;
  • Three IPPC facilities accounted for 38 per cent of all licensed industry complaints. The complaints concerned odours, air quality, noise, water and dust.
  • Over 67 per cent of all Waste complaints received related to four facilities. The most common cause of complaint was odour.

Inspections

Table 2 presents a summary of the inspection work conducted by or on behalf of the EPA during 2007 broken down by category of inspection.

Table 2: EPA Audits and Inspections 2007

Inspection Type

Number

License application and review inspections

200

IPPC Enforcement inspections

546

IPPC Enforcement audits

78

Waste enforcement inspections

354

Waste enforcement audits

53

IPPC monitoring visits

852

Waste monitoring visits

245

IPPC compliance meetings

52

Waste compliance meetings

41

Local authority audits

59

Section 63 investigation inspections

64

GMO facility inspections

12

Emission Trading inspections

110

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment inspections

532

Decorative Paints inspections

500

Restriction of Hazardous Substances inspections

135

PCPs/POPs inspections

68

Ozone Depleting Substances inspections

7

Legal Matters

Prosecution is one enforcement tool available to the EPA. Others include legal notices to implement specific measures to prevent or remedy pollution. Legal action pursued by the EPA in 2007 included the following:

  • 12 cases were brought against licensees before the District Courts. Convictions were handed down in 11 of these cases with the Probation Act being applied with the other. Fines and costs of €160,418 were awarded to the EPA. The majority of the charges related to persistent breaches of emission limit values, failure to install infrastructure, providing false and misleading information and failure to submit information or notifying the EPA of incidents as required under licence conditions.
  • Three further detailed criminal investigations were carried out resulting in the submission of two files to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and a third in preparation.
  • A Study on the Use of Administrative Sanctions for Environmental Offences in Other Comparable Countries and Assessment of their Possible Use in Ireland was commenced during the year with a final report due in early 2008.

As of the end of December 2007, the EPA had 33 District Court cases on hand.

Legal action taken by the EPA led to commitments by individual licensees of up to €1 million by way of remedial measures such as improving waste water treatment plants and carrying out a range of environmental improvement works on site.

Environmental Enforcement Network

The EPA co-ordinates a National Environmental Enforcement Network. The Network harnesses the collective resources, expertise and investigative capacity available nationally to tackle environmental crime. The Network is well established and brings together over 1,000 staff from over 50 agencies. Members are working across 9 main areas grouped under the themes of Waste, Water, Enforcement Management and Producer Responsibility.

In 2007:

  • Launch of a National Complaints Procedure, in conjunction with the publication of the See Something Say Something leaflet to make it easier for members of the public to make environmental complaints.
  • National waste and water conferences and other network events, brought the relevant enforcement authorities together to deal with enforcement issues in an integrated way.
  • Review of the Enforcement Network with the focus changing from training and guidance to implementation and audit/inspection.
  • Assisted local authorities to develop Inspection/ Enforcement Plans.
  • Establishment of new working groups for Cryptosporidium and air/solvents.
  • Implementation of new Drinking Water Regulations and extensive extranet website guidance for local authorities on Cryptosporidium.
  • Published Enforcement Network Newsletter and the Focus on Waste Enforcement Newsletter.
  • Training courses provided for local authority staff on Environmental Inspection Skills, Code of Practice for Historic Waste Sites and Investigating and Preparing Cases for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
  • 1,523 calls received to the “Dump and Dumpers” telephone line.
  • Continuation of waste enforcement concerted actions.

Unauthorised Wwaste Activities

Tackling unauthorised waste activity remains a key priority for the Office of Environmental Enforcement. During 2007, this involved intensive engagement with members of the Environmental Enforcement Network. The Office of Environmental Enforcement is also continuing to work with colleagues in Northern Ireland to address cross-border illegal waste issues.

Highlights during 2007 included:

  • Continuation of the 24 hour line for illegal dumping until end Feb 2008. The number is 1850 365 121. Organisations involved are the EPA, local authorities and An Garda Síochána.
  • Publishing the Code of Practice Environmental Risk Assessment for Unregulated Waste Disposal Sites and carrying out associated training.
  • Publishing the first consolidated report on Local Authority Waste Enforcement activities.
  • The effective use of statutory powers under S63 of the EPA Act to direct Local Authorities in relation to dealing with unauthorised waste activities.
  • Holding 2 multi-agency concerted actions in relation to cross border movement of waste.
  • Continued investigations into illegal cross border movement of waste.
  • The development and implementation of guidance on preparation and submission of a criminal investigation file to the DPP’s office.

Public Authority Enforcement

The EPA exercises a supervisory role in relation to the environmental protection activities of local authorities.

In 2007:

  • 44 audits of local authorities were carried out on wastewater (16) and drinking water (28) treatment plants. 15 audits of local authorities were undertaken to look at implementation of the Local Authority Management System, the EU Recommended Minimum Criteria for Environmental Inspection and the National Complaints Procedure.
  • 64 investigations were carried out on foot of 459 complaints made to the EPA about activities that were the responsibility of local authorities. The majority of these complaints related to either waste management or water management issues with the remainder related mainly to odour, noise and planning. As a result of these investigations, 88 advice and recommendation notices were issued to local authorities.
  • Seven directions were issued in relation to waste management and water management issues. These were issued to Wexford County Council, Kerry County Council, Galway City Council, Cork County Council, Donegal County Council, Sligo County Council and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.
Table 3:Public Authority Enforcement Activities in 2007
Audits

59

Investigations conducted

64

Advice and recommendation notices

88

Proposed directions served

8

Directions served

7

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive

The objective of the SEA Directive is to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to promote sustainable development. Some key highlights for the SEA Team in 2007 include significant progress in the development of more effective systems and procedures for improving the SEA process and for promoting best practice. These include the ongoing development of an automatic GIS Search and Reporting Tool and a SEA Process Checklist.

In addition, the first EPA SEA-related Research Fellowship was completed in October 2007.

There are currently 85 SEA’s ongoing. Some key ones include:

  • Review of the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan
  • Three Flood Risk Assessment and Management Studies
  • Seven Water Framework Directive River Basin Management Plans/Programme of Measures
  • Greater Dublin Water Supply New Major Source Development
  • Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Strategy
  • Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2010 - 2030
  • Aquaculture Licensing Programme –Lough Foyle / Carlingford Lough

GIS

On 3 September 2007, Mr. John Gormley, TD, Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, launched ENVision, a major enhancement on the EPA website (referred to earlier for specific themes). This online viewer allows people to access environmental information about their locality, or any region in Ireland, thus allowing easier public access to environmental data that has been gathered by the EPA. Placing such environmental information at the fingertips of the public improves public access to meaningful environmental information.

Through ENVision, the public can access EPA information on air quality, water quality and facilities licensed by the EPA. Technical information is also available in the areas of soils, subsoils and landcover mapping. More information will become available as soon as it is technically possible to do so.

Research Initiatives

  • Finalisation and publication of the new EPA programme for Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for the Environment (STRIVE). This is an ambitious €100 million research and innovation programme which will underpin developments in the protection and enhancement of Ireland’s environment in the period 2007-2013. The EPA has a statutory role to co-ordinate research in Ireland and this research and innovation programme will develop and integrate the environmental component of the knowledge economy and ensure that environment is a key issue for research priorities at national level.
  • Grant award of 31 PhD, 10 Masters and 15 post-Doctoral fellowships representing a commitment from the EPA of approximately €6m up to 2009.
  • This year marked the 100th PhD grant award by the EPA since the programme started.
  • Grants awarded to 13 projects under a new Environmental Infrastructure Award Scheme with a commitment from the EPA of €1.5m up to end of 2008.
  • Publication of two research reports on markets for environmental technologies that feed directly into the National Environmental Technology Action Plan.
  • Publication of 29 research reports in 2007.

Communications & Customer Service Initiatives

  • The third annual Environment Ireland conference was held in September with the theme ‘Towards 2020: The Environment in Ireland’s Future’.
  • The EPA web site was extensively revamped in 2007 and went live in early Summer.
  • Advertising campaigns were run on illegal dumping, back-yard burning and the man-in-the-van phenomenon.
  • The See Something - Say Something leaflet was launched to make it easier for the public to make an environmental complaint.

  • Ten Presentations/Workshops on research issues were held at various venues throughout Ireland attended by over 450 attendees.

7. Building a High Performance Organisation

2020 Goal

Developing the people and organisational resources to underpin our strategy is a continuing requirement which requires a focus on four key areas: Competent/Committed People; Environmental Champion; Customer-Focused and Organisationally Efficient.

In 2007:

  • The third annual Environment Ireland conference was held in September with the theme ‘Towards 2020: The Environment in Ireland’s Future’. This year’s conference had a strong focus on the changes and initiatives required to meet the challenges facing the island of Ireland in areas like climate change, waste management, water management and transport.
  • National conferences were held on water management and waste enforcement.
  • The EPA web site was extensively revamped in 2007 and went live in early Summer 2007. It received special mention in the EU e-government report in September 2007 which noted that “The website of the Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.ie/) is particularly well made, and offers comprehensive guidance for companies, citizens and researchers. It is organised around the user’s needs and offers enhanced accessibility to the content.”
  • Significant further enhancements were made to the EPA on line document management system through the improved website.
  • ENVision, the free interactive environmental map viewer, was launched. ENVision places environmental data where it belongs: in a local setting, and acts as a window to the environment. Information about our licensed sites, air quality maps, local water quality and other specialist environmental data are all now available to the public through ENVision.
  • The EPA is working with An Taisce in piloting the Green Home initiative, which is being funded by the National Waste Prevention Programme. This has grown out of the very successful Green Schools programme, run by An Taisce. The programme is intended to promote sustainable living in the home and covers topics such as waste prevention, energy conservation, water usage and transport. The programme has been piloted in six communities and is now in its second phase with twelve additional communities involved reaching approximately 2,700 homes. A web site has also been created called www.greenhome.ie.
  • The fifth of the popular television series EcoEye was broadcast on RTÉ early in 2007 and repeated in the summer. Approximately 359,000 people saw each programme, the highest ever viewing figures for the series. A sixth EcoEye series is currently being developed for broadcast in 2008.
  • The EPA exhibited at the National Ploughing Championships held in Tullamore, Co. Offaly and the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
  • The EPA again sponsored a lesson in Science and Technology in Action multimedia resource for second level schools. The EPA lesson focused on climate change.
  • For a seventh year, the EPA presented a Special Award to the best environmental project winners at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
  • A resource pack on the environment was distributed to every primary and secondary school in Ireland.
  • Regional information was circulated each month on a range of topics to local and regional media outlets. Topics included drinking water quality, bathing water quality, air quality, how to make an environmental complaint and seasonal tips at Christmas.
  • In 2007, the EPA fully implemented a formal risk-based T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local approach to enforcement. Government on March 9th, 2007.
  • The new building at the EPA Regional Inspectorate
  • Work has commenced on an extension to EPA Headquarters in Kilkenny was officially opened by Mr. Dick Roche, at Johnstown Castle, Wexford.

Pictured at the launch of ENVision are Mr. John Gormley, T.D. (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government), Mr. Larry Stapleton, (Director, EPA) and Dr. Mary Kelly, (Director General, EPA).

EPA Publications 2007

The majority of EPA publications are available to download from the EPA website www.epa.ie.

All publications can also be purchased either on-line or from EPA Publications’ Sales at +353 12670100.

Air

  • Air Quality in Ireland 2006. (Web-only).

Corporate

  • EPA Annual Highlights 2006.
  • EPA Annual Report and Accounts 2006.
  • 2020 Vision.
  • EpaNews January 2007.
  • EpaNews May 2007.
  • EpaNews October 2007.

Waste

  • National Waste Prevention Programme - Annual Report 2006.
  • National Waste Report 2005. (Web-only).

Water

  • The Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland - A Report for the year 2005.
  • Dangerous Substance Regulations, National Implementation Report 2005.
  • Water Quality in Ireland 2006 - Key Indicators of the Aquatic Environment.
  • Urban Wastewater Discharges in Ireland - A Report for the Years 2004/2005.
  • Quality of Bathing Water in Ireland - A Report for the year 2006.

Guidance Notes

  • Code of Practice - Environmental Risk Assessment for Unregulated Waste Disposal Sites.
  • Guidance Note for Noise in Relation to Scheduled Activities 2nd Edition (2006).
  • Air Emissions Monitoring Guidance Note #2.

Environmental Research Reports

Climate Change

  • Climate Change - Development of Emission Factors for the Irish Cattle Herd. (Special Report).
  • Climate Change - Modelling Carbon Fluxes from Irish Peatlands: Towards the Development of a National Carbon Fluxes Inventory for Irish Peatlands. (Synthesis Report).
  • Climate Change - Estimation of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases from Agriculture and Strategies for their Reduction. (Synthesis Report).
  • An Overview of the RAINS Model.
  • Implications of the EU Climate Protection Target for Ireland.

Air

  • Air Pollution - Nature and Origin of PM10 and Smaller Particulate Matter in Urban Air. (Final Report).

Water

  • Evaluation of the Use of the Sodium Dominance Index as a Potential Measure of Acid Sensitivity. (Synthesis Report).
  • Water Framework Directive Identification of Reference - Status for Irish Lake Typologies Using Palaeolimnological Methods and Techniques (IN-SIGHT). (Synthesis Report).
  • Water Framework Directive - A Reference Based Typology and Ecological Assessment System for Irish Lakes Preliminary Investigation. (Synthesis Report).
  • Eutrophication from Agricultural Sources- Effects of Agricultural Practices on Nitrate Leaching. (Synthesis Report).
  • Water Framework Directive - Reference Conditions and Eutrophication Impacts in Irish Rivers. (Synthesis Report).
  • Biological Approaches to Nutrient Removal in the Irish Food Sector. (Final Report).
  • Eutrophication from Agricultural Sources - The Impact of the Grazing Animal on Phosphorus Loss from Grazed Pasture.
  • The WFD - Assessment, Participation and Restricted Areas: What are the Relationships? (Synthesis Report).
  • Eutrophication from Agricultural Sources -The Impact of the Grazing Animal on Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Potassium and Suspended Solids Loss from Grazed Pastures - Field Plot Study. (Final Report).
  • Investigation of the Relationship between Fish Stocks, Ecological Quality Ratings (Q-Values), Environmental Factors and Degree of Eutrophication. (Synthesis Report).
  • Eutrophication from Agricultural Sources -Pathways for Nutrient Loss with Emphasis on Phosphorus.(Synthesis Report).
  • Eutrophication from Agricultural Sources -Soil and Phosphorus: Catchment Studies. (Synthesis Report).

Biodiversity

  • Biodiversity in Irish Plantation Forests.
  • Towards a National Soil Database. (Synthesis Report).
  • Digital Soil Information System for Ireland. (Scoping Study).

Sustainable Use of Resources

  • The Use and Regulation of Environmental Claims as a Means of Promoting Sustainable Consumption in Ireland. (Final Report).
  • Introduction of Weight Based Charges for Domestic Solid Waste Disposal. (Final Report).
  • A Nationwide Review of Pay-By-Use Domestic Waste Collection Charges In Ireland: Extensive Survey Findings. (Interim Report).
  • CGPP Report - Development of a Cleaner Greener Production Programme for the Irish Hotel Industry - Greening Irish Hotels.

Integration and Enforcement

  • Identification of Environmental Variables for Use in Monitoring the Evaluation of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (Synthesis Report).
  • Environmental Management in the Extractive Industry - Non-Scheduled Minerals. (Synthesis Report).
  • Environmental Technologies - Guidelines on How to Take a Pilot Project to Market. (Final Report).
  • Investigation into Why Existing Environmental Technologies are Underused. (Synthesis Report).
  • Guide to Commercialisation of Environmental R&D Outputs A Manual for Researchers in Receipt of Environmental Research and Development Funding.
  • Environmental Values, Attitudes and Behaviour in Ireland. (Synthesis Report).
  • Sustainable Tourism Development - Toward the Mitigation of Tourism Destination Impacts. (Synthesis Report).
  • STRIVE - An Environmental Protection Agency Programme 2007-2013.