Industrial and Waste Enforcement Overview

This overview provides a summary of the key enforcement infomation for all licensed industrial and waste sites regulated by the EPA. The EPA is responsible for the environmental regulation of large industrial and waste activities. The EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) works to ensure that operators comply with the conditions of their licence. The total number of Industrial and Waste licences in force in 2020 together with new licenses issued and licenses surrendered during the period is provided below. View licences, applications and asssociated enforcement reports for EPA licensed industrial and waste sites.

 Industrial and Waste Licences at the end of Q3 2020 
 836   No. of licences in force at the end of Q3 2020
 21   New licences issued during during 2020 to the end of Q3
 9   Reviewed licensed issued to existing sites during 2020 to the end of Q3
 4   Licence surrender applications completed by the EPA during 2020 to the end of Q3

The EPA’s objective is to ensure that operators carry on their activities in accordance with their licences. These objectives are advanced through a combination of promoting compliance, guidance and assistance, monitoring compliance, inspections and sampling, and taking enforcement actions where necessary.

During the Covid 19 pandemic the EPA was designated by the Government as an ‘essential service’ underscoring the continued importance of ensuring that the protection of human health and the environment is not diminished as a result of the current pandemic. The EPA continued to to carry out enforcement activities in a risk based and proportionate manner in line with the EPA Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

The EPA’s enforcement approach is underpinned by the principles of our Compliance and Enforcement Policy:


Our enforcement work is risk-based, focusing resources and regulatory action on activities that pose a risk to human health and/or the environment.


Enforcement action taken is proportionate with the risk posed to human health and/or the environment, the damage already caused and the costs of remedial works required. We also consider enforcement action where there are persistent regulatory breaches.


We have systems which provide consistency in the approach to the use of enforcement powers and in deciding the appropriate enforcement response. This means the public, the regulated community and other stakeholders know what to expect from the EPA. We promote consistency nationally through effective liaison with those we regulate and other regulatory authorities.


We support compliance within the regulated community by being clear and open about what is expected of them in terms of legal requirements and compliance and what they should expect from us in terms of regulatory oversight.

We publish enforcement information including site visit reports, monitoring results, enforcement correspondence, priority lists, performance reports and legal convictions on the EPA’s website in a timely manner.

Polluter pays

We work to ensure that polluters are held financially accountable for their actions (including bearing the cost of environmental remediation), that they do not profit from illegal activity and that they do not gain a competitive advantage over law-abiding operators.

2019 at a glance

2019 at a Glance (LS)

Summary analysis of key enforcement data 2015 - Q3 2020

A comparative analysis of the key enforcement data for 2015 up to the end of Q3 2020 is provided in the table below and can be summarised as follows:

  • On almost three quarters of all sites were visited by EPA each year in the period 2015 to 2019 and 42% of all sites were visited at least twice in 2019. The data for the first 9 months of 2020 would indicate that there has been a decrease in the number of site visits so far in 2020, this being on account of the Covd 19 pandemic. The EPA has adapted its inspection protocols during the pandemic and this is discussed further in the Site Visits section.
  • The previous trend during 2019 saw the continued reduction (22%) in the number of complaints received from members of the public when compared with 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 has been reversed during the first 9 months of 2020. The main change in complaint numbers has been during Q2 2020 when there was a spike in odour complaints. Odour remained the key issue for the public to date in 2020. Complaints are discussed further in the complaints section.

 Trend table to end of Q3 2020

* includes fines and costs from DPP case