Find Out About -Topics of Public Interest

Who do I contact to report cutting/burning/destruction of hedgerows during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife (1st March-31st August)?

In Ireland, hedgerows are of exceptional importance as habitats, particularly for birds but also for wild flowers, shrubs and trees and provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife and enhance the diversity of nature in our countryside.

Cutting, burning, or destruction of hedgerows is restricted during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife between the 1st March and the 31st August except for certain exemptions (Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Heritage Act 2018) These restrictions apply to private land-users, local authorities, public bodies and contractors. 

You can report details of  unlawful cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction to the local Conservation Rangers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Reported instances will, as far as practicable, be investigated.    Your local NPWS Office can be found through the NPWS website.

Who will inspect your septic tank/domestic wastewater treatment system?

The local authority will carry out the inspection of your septic tank/domestic wastewater treatment system.  While the EPA has developed a National Inspection Plan which outlines the approach to be taken and identifies areas of high risk (e.g., sensitive receptors such as drinking water supplies and bathing water), each local authority has responsibility for carrying out the inspections.   For further information view our website.

I have observed a contractor spraying pesticides in a public area not taking any safety precautions to protect the public – who do I contact in relation to this?

You will need to contact the Pesticide Registration & Control Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine for advice on this matter.


Further information is available here:  http://www.pcs.agriculture.gov.ie/sud/professionaluserssprayeroperators/

Do I need a licence to start a waste collection business?

You will need to contact the National Waste Collection Permit Office (NWCPO) for information on waste collection permits.

My neighbour is burning smoky fuel – who can I report this to?

You will need to contact the Environment Section of your local authority (city/county council) for assistance with this issue.


The ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous fuel (or 'smoky coal ban') was first introduced in Dublin in 1990 in response to severe episodes of winter smog that resulted from the widespread use of smoky coal for residential heating. The ban proved effective in reducing smoke and sulphur dioxide levels and was then extended to other areas. The ban now applies in twenty six cities and towns. Further information on low smoke zones is available here.


The EPA is the statutory body responsible for monitoring air quality in Ireland.  View real-time air quality data  for locations around the country.

How far away should landspreading be from my well?

Landspreading of organic or soiled water (e.g. slurry) is not permitted within 25 m of a private well/spring.  Furthermore areas for the storage of farmyard manure, slatted sheds, slurry storage and silage clamps should be at least 50 m from a private well. The farmyard itself should be 15 m from the private well/spring.

The Householder Information on Private Wells section of our website has detailed information and useful guidance, including frequently asked questions, in relation to protecting, testing, treating and maintaining your private well.

Who do I contact to get a copy of my Certificate of Registration for my domestic wastewater treatment system (septic tank)?

You will need to contact Protect Our Water to obtain a copy of your Certificate of Registration.

The Householder Information on Septic Tanks section of our website has detailed information and useful guidance for the homeowner in relation to domestic wastewater treatment systems (septic tanks).

Frequently Asked Questions on the Environment

 

Air

I am worried about the quality of the Air in my house/apartment. Can the Environmental Protection Agency assist?

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for implementing legislation on ambient/outdoor air quality.  There is no legislation on indoor air quality in homes therefore there is no organisation with responsibilities for this. 

  • If you are experiencing health problems please contact your Doctor your Health Service Executive (HSE).
  • If you think the source of the air pollution is outside you can contact the air pollution section of your Local Authority.  They deal with air pollution nuisance complaints.
  • If you think the problem is caused by the building you should contact your landlord/management company/builders/homebond/building section of local authority as appropriate.

 

There are some private companies who test air quality in private dwellings.  These are mainly large environmental consultancy firms who operate nationally.  You can find a list of these in your classified directory.  The Environmental Protection Agency does not endorse or maintain a list of any of these companies.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency monitor ambient air quality throughout the country.  Real time air quality results are available on our website

 

Are there any standards for indoor air quality?

No, there are no indoor air quality standards in Ireland.  The EPA measures outdoor air quality for a number of atmospheric pollutants.  The list of pollutants we monitor include; Ozone, Carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), Benzene (C6H6), Lead  (Pb), PAH (Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons), Arsenic (As), Nickel (Ni), Mercury (Hg). Detailed information about real-time Air Quality data can be found on our website.

 

If you are concerned about indoor air quality in your workplace you should contact the Health and Safety Authority. Tel: 1890 289 389 or visit the HSA website

What are condensation trails (or contrails)?

Condensation trails (or ‘contrails’), sometimes also referred to as ‘vapour trails’ are long, thin artificial clouds that sometimes form behind aircraft and are visible from the ground.

Contrails are plumes of ice-crystals formed by the condensation and freezing of water vapour in the exhaust-gases of an aircraft flying at high altitudes and under certain atmospheric conditions. Fossil fuels contain hydrocarbons and burning these fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour (H2O),  along with other materials, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphates, hydrocarbons, soot, metal particles, etc.  This occurs when these fuels are used in powering the engines of aircraft as well as trains, cars, trucks, boilers, etc.  The difference with aircraft is that they operate in atmospheric conditions (where temperatures are commonly below -40oC) that are very different to those of other vehicles.

How do atmospheric conditions affect these contrails?

Depending upon atmospheric conditions, contrails can rapidly dissipate or remain for some time, gradually spreading horizontally into an extensive thin cirrus cloud layer. As a general rule, the drier the air the more rapid the evaporation process will be. Under more humid conditions, there will be less effective evaporation, so contrails will generally remain visible for longer periods.

Does the type of aircraft and its fuel source affect these contrails?

The type of aircraft and its fuel source are important considerations. These affect how much additional heat and moisture is ejected into the atmosphere.   The water vapour in the aircraft exhaust will artifically (and temporarily) elevate the humidity of the air in the wake of the aircraft, but as this mixing process continues and more of the ambient  environment air is added the “fate” of the contrail (i.e., whether it will dissipate or whether it will persist) becomes increasingly dependent on the relative humidity (ratio of moisture to temperature of the environmental air). If the ambient air is too dry, the contrail will evaporate.  On the other hand, if the atmospheric humidity in the ambient air is high enough (i.e., above the threshold  for ice to persist) the the contrail will persist. 

The interesting thing is that between these two humidity thresholds (above the ice threshold but below the water threshold), “natural” clouds cannot form spontaneously,  but a contrail that is formed (from air being temporarily elevated above the water threshold) cannot only persist, but can spread out and trigger additional cirrus clouds to form (because the ice particles within the contrail can act as  condensation nuclei).  Contrail-cirrus is virtually indistinguishable from natural cirrus clouds, making it very difficult to quantify the amount of cirrus coverage that is contrail-induced. 

An ‘aircraft contrail-factor’ is calculated for each type of aircraft and used in determining whether or not a contrail will form in a given set of atmospheric conditions. A standard contrail-factor can be used to represent modern commercial aircraft. 

Upper-atmospheric humidity and temperatures are retrieved at 4 x daily intervals from Met Éireann’s weather balloons launched at the Valentia observatory in Co. Kerry.  Using this information, together with the contrail-factor for commercial aircraft,  it is possible to calculate the atmospheric susceptibility to both contrail formation and persistence in Irish skies. By doing this, the height and thickness of ‘contrail-layers’ when formed can be evaluated.

From examination of these 4 x daily ascents from the last few years, it had been determined that in more than three quarters of these ascents, atmospheric conditions were favourable to support persistent contrails from commercial jet aircraft.  However,  the thickness of the atmospheric contrail-layers varied depending on time of day and time of year, such that the thickest layers were found to occur in night-time ascents during winter.  

Contrails seem to last for hours as opposed to dissipating quickly in recent years - is this a new phenomenon?

As aircraft engines become more efficient,  their exhausts get cooler resulting in contrails forming in warmer ambient air – i.e.,  essentially the atmospheric ‘contrail-layers’ become thicker and thus there is an increased likelihood of the aircraft flying through a layer of the atmosphere in which contrail formation will be triggered. Whether the contrail that is formed will persist depends on whether or not the ambient atmospheric humidity is above the ‘ice threshold’. In addition, other atmospheric factors relating to anthropogenic climate change could be affecting humidity in the upper-atmosphere such that contrail persistence conditions are becoming more prevalent. A combination of these two effects could be at work here. 

Additionally, Ireland is right next to the North Atlantic Flight Corridor.  So large volumes of overflights cross Ireland daily - typically at altitudes high-enough to coincide with our atmospheric contrail-layers. Hence, we have a lot of contrails over Ireland. An EPA funded PhD research project relating to contrails is being carried out in the Geography Department at University College Cork, in the Geoinformatics - Research Group.  The research uses thermal imagery acquired by satellites to map the presence of contrails, and weather balloon data from Valentia to gain a better understanding of the atmospheric conditions prevalent in Ireland. Contrails are essentially artificial linear ice-clouds at a lower temperature than the surrounding atmosphere, so they show up very well in 1km resolution satellite thermal imagery. Between 4 and 6 images are available daily over the past ten years and are in the process of being evaluated to determine percentage contrail coverage in Irish skies and how this varies both diurnally and interannually. The contrail optical-depth is also derived from each image which can then be used to estimate the extent if any to which contrails may be contributing to an enhanced greenhouse effect.

 

 

 

 

 

Do contrails have an impact on ambient air?

There is no evidence to suggest that contrails have any adverse impact on ambient air quality in Ireland. Met Éireann advises that there is some evidence that contrails may influence climatology but have little impact on day-to-day weather.  The purported reason for the potential impact on climatology is that the contrails (or consequent cirrus cloud) will trap outgoing long-wave radiation, thus leading to warming in the atmosphere, and that this effect is greater than the reflection of short-wave radiation from the sun. 

What is the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in monitoring air quality?

The EPA is the statutory body responsible for monitoring air quality in Ireland. In order to protect our health, vegetation and ecosystems, a number of EU directives set down air quality standards for Ireland and the other EU member states for a wide variety of pollutants. The monitoring, assessment and management of ambient air quality in Ireland is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the EU Air Quality Framework Directive and Clean Air for Europe Directive. Specific ambient air quality standards have been prescribed for the following pollutants in ambient air and/or deposition from air:

  • sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead;
  • carbon monoxide and benzene;
  • ozone; and
  • polyaromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and mercury in ambient air.

In addition to publishing a comprehensive report on air quality annually, the EPA also reports the results of current air quality monitoring of the above pollutants through our website.  View real-time air quality data  for locations around the country.

What is the role of the Irish Aviation Authority?

The Irish Aviation Authority's (IAA)  remit is the provision of Air Navigation Services and Safety Regulation of the Irish civil aviation industry. Some relevant points from previous correspondence with members of the public and the IAA on this issue are set out below:

  • The IAA can confirm that contrails are an artificial cloud created by an aircraft; caused either by condensation due to the reduction in air pressure above the wing surface or by water vapour in the engine exhaust.
  • The contrails occurring are a normal event.  Aviation fuel used by Irish aircraft operators is inspected by the Irish Aviation Authority www.iaa.ie to ensure that it meets with the requirements for aviation use.  
  • The Air Navigation Services Department (Air Traffic Control) confirmed that there is no unauthorised penetration in the upper airspace occurring as all aircraft travelling through the airspace advise  the IAA in advance and are traceable.
  • All aircraft travelling in the upper airspace are subject to air traffic control and this includes regular airlines, military aircraft and private jet aircraft.

 

Noise

What steps are open to me under the law regarding nuisance caused by noise?

There are a number of steps open to you under the law when you are experiencing nuisance caused by noise.  The procedures detailed below are designed to cover general neighbourhood type noise problems, such as continual noise from other houses home workshops, local businesses etc.  The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No.179 of 1994) provide redress in the case of these types of problems.  They are designed to allow straightforward access to the Courts by individuals or groups concerned atout excessive noise.

When can I take action to deal with noise as nuisance?

Whenever you consider a noise to be so loud, so continuous, so repeated or of such duration or pitch, or occurring at such times that it gives you reasonable cause for annoyance you can initiate action to deal with it.

What action can I take?

  • Initially, it may be sufficient to explain to whoever is causing the noise that it is a nuisance and come to some mutually acceptable understanding.  In the case of noise emanating from multiple occupancy rented accommodation, the landlord (or the relevant Council in the case of local authority housing) should be contacted to determine if breaches of the tenancy agreement have occurred. 
  • If this does not resolve the matter you may wish to consider contacing your local authority or the EPA in the case of an activity for which a licence is required under the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992. 
  • Finally, you may exercise your right to make a formal complaint to the District Court seeking an Order to deal with the nuisance.  Forms are available from the District Court office.
What can be done about noise arising from commercial and construction activities?

Noise emenating from construction activities or the activities of a commercial premises are dealt with under Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, which provides local authorities with the powers to limit or prevent noise.

Noise from Commercial Premises:

Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 provides local authorities with powers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise.  These powers are generally exercised in preventing and limiting noise from commercial and industrial premises within their functional areas.  A Notice can be served by a local authority on any person in charge of any premises, processes or works, other than an activity controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Construction Noise:

There is no statutory period during which certain works e.g. construction, road works, DIY etc. are prohibited.  However, a Planning Authority may attach conditions to individual planning permissions for any development on a case by case basis.  These tailored conditions may inlcude restrictions on the times when construction work can be undertaken.

If you are encountering noise from a construction site you should, in the first instance, contact your Planning Authority to ascertain whether any such conditions apply.  A local authority can still address the issue under Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 which provides them withpowers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise.  You can also address the issue by taking a case under the Noise Regulations.

What can be done if I am experiencing nuisance noise from a neighbour?

The source of a neighbourhood noise complaint most often dictates the way it should be addressed, depending on whether the individual causing the noise nuisance is a private rented tenant, a local authority tenant or a private home-owner.

Private Rented Tenants:  In the case of noise nuisance being caused by individuals in private rented accommodation, the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 imposes minimum statutory obligations on landlords and tenants of private residential tenancies.  Tenant obligations under the Act include an obligation not to engage, or allow visitors to engage, in anti-social behaviour which is defined as including persistent noise that interferes with the peaceful occupation of other dwellings in the neighbourhood.  The Act also imposes an obligation on landlords to enforce the tenant obligations.

There is provision in the Act for third parties who are adversely affected by a failure on the part of a landlord to enforce tenant obligations to refer a complaint to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB)  in accordance with the procedures in the Act.  If an alternative legal remedy, such as the remedy provided for under the  Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 179)  being pursued then the PRTB cannot intervene.  Since December 2004 all privately-rented properties must be registered with the PRTB.  You can check if a property is registered by contacting the PRTB.

Local Authority Tenants:  Noise nuisance caused by local authority tenants are also covered under legislation.  The tenancy agreement, which is the legal basis of the relationship between the local authority and its tenants, will generally contain provisions in relation to the type of behaviour that is acceptable, and that which is not. The local authority is empowered under Section 62 of the Housing Act 1966, to initiate proceedings to secure an eviction where a tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy agreement.  Please contact your local authority if you have a complaint regarding the behaviour of one of their tenants.

Private Home Owner:  If the person causing a noise nuisance is a private home owner then obviously the potential remedies outlined above do not apply.  In this case, the person experiencing the noise nuisance will have to avail of the remedy provided under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 179)  whereby any individual person, or a local authority, may complain to a District Court seeking an Order to deal with the noise nuisance.The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has issued a self-explanatory leaflet entitled ‘A Guide to the Noise Regulations’ which outlines the steps to be taken where a person is experiencing nuisance caused by noise.  It includes a form, which can be filled in and then forwarded to the Clerk of the local District Court. There is no requirement to be represented in Court by a solicitor.  In addition, as there are no statutory limits currently in place, noise-monitoring data is not necessarily required; however, it may be beneficial in comparing data with the World Health Organisation (WHO) noise exposure recommendations.  Alternatively, a written record which includes dates and times during which the perceived noise nuisance occurred and/or a tape recording of the type of noise experienced, can provide important evidence which can be presented in Court.

Who do I contact regarding problems from barking dogs?

Problems arising from barking dogs are covered under the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 & 1992.  A copy of the Form used for complaints to the Courts about noise from dogs is available from your local authority.

What can I do about noise arising from public events such as pop concerts or festivals?
Any event such as a concerts or festivals, would normally require planning permission, however in some cases, a particular venue may have prior approval to stage a set number of concerts/events per annum.  The appropriate local authority should be contacted in relation to any planning conditions relating to noise for these once off events.
Who do I contact regarding traffic related noise?

The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 179 of 1994) are not designed to cover noise from roadways.  Complaints about local traffic related noise should be addressed to the relevant roads authority in the first instance.  For national road schemes, potential noise emissions are addressed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process undertaken by, or on behalf of, the Natoinal Roads Authority.

In addition, EU Directive 2002/49/EC sets out certain requirements for the assessment and management of environmental noise from transport sources (including major roads) including the making of strategic noise maps and action plans.  For major roads or roads with significant traffic flows the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006 (S.I. 140 of 2006) provide for the implementation of action plans to reduce the effects of noise from roads.

 

How to deal with quarries causing noise and general annoyance?

The Environmental Protection Agency has no statutory function in the regulation of aggregate and construction stone/gravel quarries and pits as these are not licensed within the licensing regimes operated by the Agency. In the main, these activities are regulated under the planning code.

Section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 imposes a statutory regime for the regulation of quarries in Ireland. All quarries must now register with the planning authority in their locality and it is the planning authority’s responsibility to regulate the quarry through the planning process.

Furthermore, Section 151-164 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides the planning authority with a range of enforcement powers in dealing with unauthorised developments or breaches of conditions.

Please note that Section 63(10) of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003 specifically prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from exercising any power or control in relation to the making of a decision on an application for planning permission.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you should continue to report any further incidents of pollution preferably in writing, to your Local Authority.

However, if you consider the performance of the Local Authority to be unsatisfactory in resolving this issue, you are advised to put your complaint in writing to the complaints officer in that Local Authority.

If you feel that you have been adversely affected by the planning authority's actions or you are dissatisfied with the service you have received from the local authority, you can contact the Office of the Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman will not consider the planning issues involved but will investigate the administrative actions of the local authority in considering your complaint. 

Furthermore, please note that the Ombudsman’s staff attend monthly at a Citizens Information Centre to take complaints. Please see The Citizens Information website for more information.

The Ombudsman can be contacted at:

Office of the Ombudsman,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-639 5600 Locall 1890 22 30 30
Email: ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.ie
Website www.ombudsman.ie

What can be done about the noise from crow guns/bangers?

If the use of noise devices by farmers, to scare off birds eating their crops (knows as "crow guns/bangers") is causing a nuisance,  and you consider that the noise to be so loud, so continuous, so repeated, of such duration or pitch,  or occurring at such times that it gives you reasonable cause for annoyance you can initiate action to deal with it.

What action can I take?

  1. Initially, it may be sufficient to explain to the farmer that it is a nuisance and so come to some mutually acceptable understanding. 
  2. If this does not resolve the matter you may wish to consider contacting the Environmental Section of your local authority/county council to ascertain whether it is in a position to take action.
  3. Finally, you may exercise your right to take redress through the District Court under the Noise Regulations.  However, before proceeding with a complaint, you are advised, to consult your local authority (where applicable) or seek legal advice.

The role of the District Court

The District Court hears both sides of the case. If it finds in your favour, it can order the reduction of the noise to a specified level, limit it to specific times or to cease altogether.

How do I complain to the District Court?

  1. Consult with the Clerk of your local District Court about a date for the hearing of your case.
  2. You must inform the person concerned that you will be making a complaint to the District Court. The date for the hearing of the case must be at least seven days later than the date you inform the person or body causing the noise.
  3. You have to fill out a form and present your case in court. As a general rule, it is important to have a record of the times and dates when the noise nuisance occurred.
     

Waste

Who is responsible for issuing Waste Collection Permits?

Under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations, 2007 and Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2008,  those intending to carry out waste collection activities in a local authority area must apply for a waste collection permit. This requirement applies to individuals, companies and partnerships.

On the 1st of February 2012, Offaly County Council was designated as the Nominated Authority for the processing of all new Waste Collection Permit applications.     This single Nominated Authority will be known as the National Waste Collection Permit Office (NWCPO). 

Existing Waste Collection Permits have also been transferred to the NWCPO.   Therefore, all additions, deletions  etc.  to active waste collection permits are now being processed  by them.

Please contact the Environment Section,  Offaly County Council on 057 9357428 or email nwcpo@offalycoco.ie if you have any queries in relation to applying for a Waste Collection Permit. You are advised to engage in a pre-application consultation prior to lodging an application.

Please visit http://www.nwcpo.ie/ for more information on permitted contractors and on what types of waste they can collect.

Who do I contact regarding information on transfrontier shipment of waste?

Exporting Waste

Regulating the movement of waste between EU Member States and between the EU and other countries is a large and complex business. It is referred to as 'transfrontier shipment', or TFS. Movement of waste between member states is subject to Regulation (EC) No. 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14th June, 2006 on shipments of waste.  This Regulation is supported in Irish law through Statutory Instruments under the Waste Management (Shipments of Waste) Regulations, S.I. 419.  Some wastes are more strictly controlled than others. The regulation sets out a system for the classifying waste into three lists:

  • The green list: In broad terms, green listed wastes are non-hazardous and easily recyclable, such as paper and plastic. These wastes may move across international borders within the EU without having to request permission or advance notification.
  • The amber list: When green wastes are mixed ('co-mingled'), they become amber listed wastes. They then do require pre-notification and prior written consent before they can be exported. Consequently as a waste becomes somewhat more difficult to recover or somewhat more hazardous it goes onto the amber list. T
  • The red list: This covers particularly dangerous wastes.

Since 12th of July 2007, Dublin City Council was designated as the National Competent Authority for the export, import and transit of waste shipments under the Waste Management (Shipments of Waste) Regulations, 2007.  All transfrontier shipments of waste originating in any local authority area in the State that are subject to the prior written notification procedures must be notified to and through Dublin City Council at the National TFS Office established to implement and enforce the Regulations.  Contact details are as follows; Dublin City Council, Eblana House, 68-71 Marrowbone Lane, Dublin 8, Republic of Ireland. Telephone No. (01) - 2224235 or (01)- 2224374.   Any queries relating to TFS import, export or transit should be directed to the Dublin City Council, National TFS Office.  The current Waste Management (Shipments of Waste) Regulations 2007, S.I. 419, Regulation (EC) 1013/2006, and TFS guidelines are available on the Dublin City Council TFS webpage included below.

http://www.dublincity.ie/WaterWasteEnvironment/Waste/National_TFS_Office/Pages/NationalTFSOffice.aspx

Can a householder burn waste/organic matter in his or her home/garden?

No, it is not permissible for a householder to burn any waste.  Under the Waste Management (Prohibition Of Waste Disposal By Burning) Regulations 2009 - S.I. No. 286 of 2009, it states: 'Household waste shall not be disposed of by burning either within a building, the curtilage of a building, any self contained part of a building used for the purposes of living accommodation or its cartilage'.

However, under Section 5 of the above regulation, it states 'without prejudice to any other enactment or rule of law, Regulation 4 shall not apply when the following conditions are fulfilled — the burning of waste relates solely to material consisting of uncontaminated wood, trees, tree trimmings, leaves, brush, or other similar waste generated by agricultural practices, but excluding garden and park wastes'.

Please note, household organic garden waste also falls under the above regulations and cannot be burned.   It is recommended that householders should reuse, compost, shred &/or chip this material.  Many Waste Collection companies not accept garden/organic waste, and some local authorities accept this waste at their civic amenity centres, however please contact your local authority for further information.  If you wish to complain about somebody illegally burning hedge clippings & garden waste in their back garden please contact your local authority to have your complaint investigated.

View regulation details.

 

Can the EPA do something about people illegally dumping on the roadside, in a river, or on the beaches?

There is specific legislation dealing with illegally litter/rubbish dumping and, in general, should be dealt with locally.  Therefore all incidents of illegal dumping of litter or rubbish should be reported to your Local Authority immediately. The EPA is a national Agency and deals in general with issues at a different level. 

Alternatively, you can report illegal dumping to a 24 hour lo-call telephone number 1850 365 121.   This informaton will then be followed up and checked by the enforcement authorities - local authorities, the EPA's Office of Environmental Enforcement and An Garda Síochána - through the Environmental Enforcement Network.  Information that you give can be treated confidentially although you are encouraged to give your contact details as authorities may wish to follow-up with you in relation to the investigation of illegal dumping.

If your local authority finds material that is illegally dumped and establishes the identity of the owner of the material, that person will have a case to answer without necessarily having to be caught in the act.  The Litter Pollution Act 1997, as amended by the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001 and the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, introduced strong penalties in Ireland to help combat the problems of litter pollution more effectively. The litter laws have increased the powers of your local authority to combat the problem of illegal dumping of refuse and rubbish. If you see someone dumping illegally, you should report the matter to your local authority who will investigate and take any necessary enforcement action.

 

Is a householder allowed burn hedge clippings and garden waste?

Under the Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 it is illegal for a householder to burn garden waste, this includes burning of cut tree limbs, hedging, cuttings, clippings after landscaping & gardening works.  It is recommended that householders should reuse, compost, shred &/or chip this material.  Many Waste Collection companies do not accept garden/organic waste, and some local authorities accept this waste at their civic amenity centres. However, please contact your local authority for further information.

If you wish to complain about somebody illegally burning hedge clippings & garden waste in their back garden please contact your local authority, where your complaint will be investigated.

Can I burn cardboard pellets in a wood pellet fed boilers?

The simple answer is no.  Burning of cardboard pellets would be considered as waste incineration, unless there is a 'Product Standard' (which would provide proof that the material is not a waste) for the pellets.

The risks in burning cardboard pellets would be associated with what is contained within the cardboard (contaminants from ink, contaminants from the materials which were in the cardboard packaging, etc), these can be damaging to both health and the environment. 

Individuals should also note that the boiler itself may not be suitable to burn anything other than wood pellet, and cardboard pellets may pose problems for the boiler.

Further information about wood chip boilers may be obtained from Sustainable Energy Ireland 

Where can I recycle unusual items like aerosols, paint cans, weed killers, and pesticides?

Each local authority provides facilities for recycling different types of materials at their civic amenity centre.  To find out what materials are accepted at your nearest facilities please contact your local authority or visit their website.

Most local authorities also provide a collection service two or three times a year to collect household hazardous wastes such as weed-killer, paints, pesticides, detergents, aerosols etc.  You should contact your local authority to find out when the next collection day will take place.

Please be aware, that this serivce is only available to householders, and there is a limit to how much will be accepted.

Can I burn waste oil, such as car oil, in a waste oil burner?

The Environmental Protection Agency wishes to advise that the burning of waste oil falls under the scope of the European Waste Incineration Directive (Directive 2000/76/EC).  The Waste Incineration Directive states, “no incineration or co-incineration plant shall operate without a permit to carry out these activities”.

Therefore, the operation of, for example, used oil burners, will require a Waste Licence from the Environmental Protection Agency for Hazardous Waste Incineration.  It is an offence under the Waste Management Act to burn waste oil in the absence of a Waste Licence. The combustion of waste oils in unauthorised burners/energy units has the potential to cause harm to the environment and human health.

Further information regarding waste authorisations can be found on the EPA web page. Enquires can be emailed to licensing@epa.ie or by post to EPA Headquarters, PO Box 3000, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford. Telephone 053 9160600.

Where can I get a list of landfills in Ireland?

In 1996 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began licensing certain activities in the waste sector. These include landfills, transfer stations, hazardous waste disposal and other significant waste disposal and recovery activities. The licence search facility on the EPA Website will provide you with a full list of these sites. Search for a Waste Licence here.

If you are seeking a list of companies which can collect waste in your area, please contact your local authority, as they maintain a list of such contractors within their administrative area.

Wastewater

I want to start a business where I wash vehicles and have the discharge flow directly to a drain/sewer. What form of licensing would that require?

Water Pollution Discharge Licences are issued under Section 4 and Section 16 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977 as amended in 1990, in order to allow companies and other bodies to discharge a controlled amount of trade effluent to a public sewer, surface waters or ground waters. To apply for Licence to Discharge Trade Effluent please contact the relevant Sanitary Authority/Local Authority for further details.

I need to empty my septic tank, what should I do?

Septic tanks should be pumped when sludge and scum accumulation exceed 30% of the tank volume or are encroaching on the inlet and outlet baffle entrances.  Periodic pumping of septic tanks is recommended to ensure proper system performance and deduce the risk of hydraulic failure.  Septic tanks should be de-sledged at a minimum of once every year, in cases where the septic tank is at, or near, its design load capacity, de-sledging should be more often if the rate of sludge building-up required more frequent removal.  Accumulated sludge and scum material found in the tank should be removed by an appropriately permitted contractor in accordance with the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations 2001

The local authority have a list of permitted contractors in the area.  The permitted contractor will arrange for the disposal of the sludge in accordance with the national legislations via either disposal to agriculture or disposal to a managed wastewater treatment municipal facility.  Householders should obtain a certificate from the permitted contractor each time their tank is de-sledged.

 

Sludge from a septic tank or a sewage treatment system that is intended to be landspread should be managed in accordance with the Waste Management (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) Regulations, 1998 and its amendment Waste Management (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) (Amendment) Regulations, 2001.  These regulations allow for the landspreading of sewage sludge on agricultural land providing that certain criteria are met and that it is carried out in accordance with the nutrient management plan for the lands in questions.
Can a farmer empty a septic tank for a neighbour, and spread it on his land?

No. The collection of wastes by any person or business for the purpose of profit, reward or otherwise in the course of business requires a waste collection permit under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations, 2001. Farmers and farm contractors fall within the scope of this definition, and they should always check in advance that the contractors they use have the required permits.

The following table is a summary of the various scenarios that may arise, and whether a permit is required in each scenario.

 Scenario Permit Requirement   Relevant Regulations
Farmer collecting waste on his own land, and spreading it on his own land, including outlying lands in the same tenure. No permit required. Gathered, sorted or mixed on the premises where it arose.
Contractor spreading waste for a farmer, on the farm on which the waste arose, including outlying lands in the same tenure. No permit required. Gathered, sorted or mixed on the premises where it arose.
Contractor collecting waste from a farm and transporting it for disposal or recovery on another premises. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Farmer collecting waste not owned by him or her, and transporting it for recovery or disposal on another premises. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Contractor collecting septic tank sludge for recovery or disposal off site. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Farmer transporting wastes or excavation spoil for recovery off site. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Contractor collecting wastes from an IPC-licensed facility, and spreading on his or her own, or licensee-owned, or independently owned, spread lands. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Farmer collecting wastes from an IPC facility and spreading it on his or her own land. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.

 

What impact does the Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 have on me?

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DoECLG) has published the Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011. The Bill provides for the registration, inspection and remediation (where necessary) of all domestic wastewater treatment systems including septic tanks. 

  • Check out our list of FAQs related to this Bill
  • Get further information on wastewater legislation for single houses
I need further information on Wastewater treatment systems for single houses, where can I find this?
We have developed a set of FAQs to provide answers to the frequently asked questions about wastewater treatment systems for single houses in general and questions on the EPA’s guidance document – Code of Practice: Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems Serving Single Houses (p.e. <10).

Water

Microplastics - do they have an impact on water quality?

Microplastics are a newly identified contaminant in water sources, including drinking water sources, across the world. Microplastics are very tiny (<5 mm) pieces of plastic which can come from a variety of different materials.

As microplastics are an emerging water quality issue, the impact of them on people’s health has not yet been fully assessed and determined.  There is currently no water quality standard for microplastics in the Drinking Water Regulations. However, the EPA is keeping a close eye on European and Irish research in this area, and there may be a standard set in the future.

EPA funded research on microplastics includes:

In June 2017, the EPA published a research report, titled “Scope, Fate, Risks and Impacts of Microplastic Pollution in Irish Freshwater Systems”. Leading on from this report, a follow-on larger scale project is currently underway which aims to expand on the initial research and improve our understanding of the sources, pathways and environmental fate of microplastics in freshwater systems in Ireland. The project is due to complete in January 2020.

  • A second project on “Impacts of Microplastics on the Irish Fresh Water Environment” is also currently underway and is due for completion in March 2020.
  • EPA funding has recently been awarded for a desk-based study which aims to examine the potential health impacts of microplastics and nanoplastics. The research project aims to enhance our understanding of environment-health interactions of micro- and nanoplastics and will make recommendations on levels of exposure, risk factors and waste management strategies. This project is due to complete in November 2019.
  • In 2017, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government launched a public consultation on proposed legislation to ban plastic microbeads in certain cosmetic and cleaning products. The above EPA research projects will assist the Irish Government in deciding on future actions that should be taken to protect our water quality from the impacts of microplastic pollution.
Pesticides and drinking water

Pesticides products should not be present in drinking water, and there are very strict standards set in the Drinking Water Regulations. Monitoring of water supplies for pesticides has highlighted an issue of widespread and, in a small number of supplies, persistent failures to meet the pesticides standards.

The most commonly found pesticide is MCPA which is used for rush control in grassland.

A National Pesticides in Drinking Water Action Group, led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, meets every three months to support catchment-based actions and allow different interest groups come together to respond to the issue of pesticides in drinking water. The group includes representatives from Irish Water, local authorities, the farming community and pesticide manufacturers and suppliers.

 

 

To whom do I report pollution such as: fish kill; forest fire; oil spillage?

Pollution incidents should be reported in the first instance to the local authority in whose area the incident occurred as they can respond rapidly. The Local Authority will contact the Environmental Protection Agency if an EPA licensed activity is concerned.  If you know it is an EPA licensed activity you should contact us directly as well as the Local Authority.  Use the following link to obtain full details about how to Make an Environmental Complaint

Can the EPA stop farmers discharging pollution into rivers?

This is primarily a matter for the relevant Local Authority, under the Water Pollution Act 1977. If, however, the Local Authority is not fulfilling its function, a complaint can be made to the EPA who will take up the matter with the relevant Local Authority to ensure pollution is not taking place.  Use the following link to obtain full details on

WEEE

I have just purchased a new microwave, what should I do with the old one?

Since August 2005, consumers can recycle their old waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), free of charge, in the following ways:

  • Retailers are required by law to take back waste electrical goods and electronic equipment from customers free of charge.
  • Take back is on a one-for-one basis only and the appliance being returned must be of a similar type or have performed the same function as the new item purchased. For example, retailers are not obliged to accept a fridge where the consumer has purchased a toaster.
  • Where goods are bought over the counter, retailers must take back the old product in-store either at the time of sale or within a maximum of 15 days of the date of sale, provided the consumer can provide proof of purchase.
  • Where a new appliance or equipment is being delivered, for example a new washing machine, cooker etc., the seller of the product must take back the old appliance -
    • on the delivery of a new product either at the time of delivery, provided the old product has been cleaned and disconnected from any utilities and is ready for immediate collection, or
    • at their premises within a maximum of 30 days from the date of delivery.

Whichever take-back option a consumer avails of must be free of charge.  Additionally, each local authority must accept household WEEE free of charge at its civic amenity facilities from members of the public. Local authorities can no longer charge gate fees for WEEE.

The WEEE take-back service covers waste electrical and electronic items such as electric cookers, vacuum cleaners, fridges, dishwaters, televisions, as well as smaller electrical items such as hair dryers, portable music players, & radios.

What take back obligations are on producers/suppliers of WEEE to Businesses under the WEEE regulations?

Business to Business (B2B) producers are obliged to finance the takeback of historic and new B2B WEEE (Articles 17 & 18). From the 13th August 2005, each producer (or someone acting on his/her behalf) must finance the environmentally sound management of WEEE arising from(B2B) customers as follows:

  1. For historic B2B WEEE (equipment placed on the market prior to the 13th August 2005 that is now waste), the producer is obliged to take back WEEE of a similar type and function (irrespective of brand) when a business end user is purchasing new equipment from him/her. The producer is then responsible for the collection and environmental management of the WEEE.
    If the business end user is simply discarding the WEEE and not replacing it, the responsibility for ensuring the environmentally sound management of the WEEE remains with the business end user. An appropriately licensed and permitted waste management operator must be used to transport and manage the waste in both scenarios.
  2. For new WEEE (equipment placed on the market after the 13th August 2005 that will become waste), the producer must take back and manage WEEE from the business end user or make alternative financing arrangements with the business user i.e. there must be a formal agreement between both parties on how and who will finance the management of the WEEE. The WEEE must be transported and managed by appropriately licensed and permitted waste management operators.

However the supplier that supplied the original equipment may not be the 'Producer'. Also, does this equipment fall under the scope of the WEEE Regulations?  This can be clarified by contacting:

WEEE Register Society Ltd,
Dawson Street,
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1-2409320 / 2409321
info@weeeregister.ie
Web: www.weeeregister.ie

Therefore, the business end user would need to determine the following;

  • Who was the original supplier of the old equipment?
  • Did they procure the old ones before 2005?
  • If their supplier is not a registered producer (see www.weeeregister.ie/search for producer) then who did the supplier get them from?
  • Ensure equipment is in scope of the Regulations
What should I do when a CFL reaches its end of life?

CFL’s, must never be placed in either your waste disposal or recycling bins.

  • Under the WEEE Directive, retailers are required by law to take back old CFL’s free of charge on a one-for-one basis when a householder is purchasing new CFL’s.
  • Each local authority must also accept old CFLs free of charge at its civic amenity facilities from members of the public. Local authorities cannot charge gate fees for these old CFL’s.
How do I clean up after a CFL bulb breaks?

As with any other glass products, caution should be taken to avoid injuries.  If a CFL accidentally breaks do not panic and take the following steps:

  1. Switch off the electricity
  2. Ventilate and leave the room for 15-30 minutes
  3. Wear rubber gloves and use robust card or similar to remove fragments
  4. Don’t use a vacuum cleaner 
  5. Wipe the area with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipes
  6. Carefully bag and seal all fragments gathered and materials used
  7. All cleaned up items should be disposed of at your local authority WEEE re-cycling facility

Please note, if you have concerns about the health effects please seek medical advice.

General

Who is responsible for the enforcement of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014?

The Local Authorities (County Councils) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine are responsible for enforcement of the regulations and they undertake farm inspections to check compliance.  If Local Authorities find farmers contravening these Regulations, they must report them to the Cross Compliance Unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Regulations are also part of the Cross Compliance requirements under the Single Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by agreement with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, has taken on responsibility for the undertaking of Cross Compliance inspections for the Single Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes. In addition the Department carry out a proportion of farm inspections on behalf of Local Authorities.

The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine can impose financial penalties for non-compliances.

When is application of fertiliser (chemical, organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure) and farmyard manure) to land prohibited?

The periods when application of fertilisers to land is prohibited are specified in Schedule 4 of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014 as follows:

1. In counties Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

(a)  15 September to 12 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

(b)  15 October to 12 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

(c)   1 November to 12 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

2.  In counties Clare, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

(a)  15 September to 15 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

(b)  15 October to 15 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

(c)  1 November to 15 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

3. In counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

(a)  15 September to 31 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

(b)  15 October to 31 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

(c)  1 November to 31 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

 

 

What precautions must be taken when applying fertiliser to land?

In order to prevent waters from being polluted by nitrogen and phosphorus, the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014 require that you must do the following:

  • You must spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, effluents and soiled water as accurately and as evenly as you can.
  • You must not use an upward-facing splash plate or sludge irrigator on a tanker or umbilical system for spreading organic fertiliser or soiled water.
  • You must not spread organic fertilisers or soiled water from a road or passageway, even if the road or passageway is on your own holding.
  • You must not spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure, soiled water or other organic fertilisers when:
    • The land is waterlogged;
    • The land is flooded, or it is likely to flood;
    • The land is frozen, or covered with snow;
    • Heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours (you must check the forecasts from Met Éireann).
    • The ground slopes steeply and there is a risk of water pollution, when factors such as surface run-off pathways, the presence of land drains, the absence of hedgerows to mitigate surface flow, soil condition and ground cover are taken into account.
  • You must not spread chemical fertiliser on land within 2 metres of a surface watercourse.
Read more details
How close can a farmer apply organic fertiliser to a dwelling?

There are no regulations specifying the distance within which landspreading of organic fertiliser can occur in relation to a dwelling. 

The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014 specify buffers in relation to water supplies and/or watercourses and streams.

Where houses have a private well, organic fertiliser or soiled water shall not be applied to land within 25m of any borehole, spring, or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption (greater buffer distances of 100m and 200m apply to larger scale abstractions).

The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine have published  and Explanatory Handbood for Good Agricultural Practice for the Protections of Waters Regulations, 2014.

If you have any concerns in regard to such an activity you should contact your local authority.

Requirements of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014?

The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014 specify a significant number of controls in relation to managing the farmyard, managing fertilisers and nutrients, and keeping records. 

The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine have published an Explanatory Handbook for Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Waters Regulations 2014

 

Who should I contact regarding the disposal of asbestos?

What is asbestos?  Asbestos is a natural fibrous material.  There were three types of asbestos commonly used.  These are blue asbestos (crocidolite) brown asbestos (amosite) and white asbestos (chrysotile). 

Why was it used?   Asbestos was used because it is resistant to heat and chemicals and is strong yet flexible.  It was therefore widely used as a building and insulation material.  Asbestos is no longer used and therefore only items, which have been in place for, or were purchased before 1980, may contain asbestos.  If you are in doubt as to whether an item contains asbestos treat it with care and seek expert advice to identify it.

What are the risks?  There is only a risk from asbestos when damaged or if drilled or sawed etc.  It is at this point when fibres are released into the air.  Due to its fibrous nature it can be breathed in and penetrate deep into the lungs.  This can lead to asbestosis, and possibly lung cancer.  The general rule is that if you have asbestos and it is not damaged, it is safest to leave it in place.  The risk to health from undamaged asbestos is very low.

Where is Asbestos found?  Asbestos may be found in the following areas around the home:

  • Roofing felts, tiles and corrugated sheets
  • Roof and wall claddings
  • Pipe lagging
  • Fluepipes/gutters/rainwater downpipes/airbricks
  • Window boxes
  • Cold water cisterns
  • Roof slates and linings
  • Thermoplastic and vinyl floor tiles
  • Storage, catalytic and (LPG) portable heaters
  • Airing cupboard linings and shelving
  • Ironing boards
  • Insulation
  • Filler ropes surrounding oven doors
  • Textured paints

One of the most common forms of asbestos found is corrugated sheeting – this is mainly used as roofing material for garages and sheds.  

Relevant Information

If you think you have come across asbestos in your home or office and you're unsure about whether the material contains asbestos, don't take any chances. Seek expert advice from asbestos monitoring/surveying companies, which are listed in the Classified Telephone Directory.

A specialist contractor should be engaged to carry out work on asbestos products or to demolish asbestos products, particularly those that are worn or damaged.

In the case of asbestos products where the fibres are tightly bound (for example, in asbestos cement roofs), and the material is in good condition, specialist asbestos removal contractors may not always be necessary. 

Always take precautions, and contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for advice:

Health and Safety Authority
The Metropolitan Building,
James Joyce Street
Dublin 1
Tel. (01) 6147020 or 1890289389
Fax. (01) 6147020

Further information can be found at:

Health & Safety Authority

What entitlement do I have to access information from the EPA?

The EPA is committed to a policy of openness and transparency. All monitoring results and environmental quality information is available for access by the public on our website.  Information related to EPA licensing is also available to the public from our website or can be inspected in our offices.  Copies of information will also be provided but there may be a charge.  Most information generated by the EPA is made publicly available through published reports many of which are also available to purchase in hardcopy.   For further information, please see our pages on Access to Information on our website. 

What is the difference between EIA and EIS?

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process for anticipating the effects on the environment caused by a proposed development or project at a particular site.  Where effects are unacceptable, design or other measures can be taken to avoid or reduce these to acceptable levels.  The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document produced in the course of this process.  The EIS is assessed by the regulatory authorities.

View the Guidelines on information to be contained in Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).

Is the EPA responsible for wildlife and protecting natural habitats?

The EPA is responsible for reporting on nature conservation in its 'State of the Environment' reports.  However, responsibility for nature conservation lies with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) is part of the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government and is charged with the conservation of a range of habitats and species in Ireland. Some of its most important activities include:

Designation and protection of Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) & Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and,

Managing and developing our National Parks and Nature Reserves.

For further information please go to the National Parks and Wildlife Service website.

 

Does the EPA provide funding to PhD students?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does provide funding in support of Doctoral Scholarships. All research funding provided by the EPA, including that for doctoral scholarships, is awarded in response to calls for proposals issued by EPA STRIVE Programme. Calls for Doctoral scholarships are usually issued in March every year. Doctoral Scholarship proposals are normally submitted by College supervisors who if successful in their application then recruit a student to undertake the research. Any call for proposals will be advertised on the EPA website and a notification will be sent to all 3rd level research offices.

Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)

What is the Industrial Emissions Directive?

The Industrial Emissions Directive which came into force on the 6th of January 2011 and came about as a result of a European Commission review of European legislation on industrial emissions. The review led to the commission proposing this directive on industrial emissions (The IED or Industrial Emissions Directive) which replaces seven existing directives namely:

  • The Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD)
  • The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC)
  • The Waste Incineration Directive (WID)
  • The Solvent Emissions Directive (SED) and 
  • Three existing directives on titanium dioxide.



Link to the European Commission IED webpage

Timescales/ When will the IED apply to me?

Certain provisions of the Directive/Irish legislation will follow the implementation dates below:

  • implementation in Ireland from 23 April 2013 and applies to any new installations from this date onwards
  • implementation from 07 January 2014 in respect of existing installations
  • implementation by 07 July 2015 in respect of industrial activities not subject to the current IPPC Directive (2008/1/EC)
  • existing large combustion plants do not become subject to the requirements of Chapter III of the IED until 01 January 2016.
What does the IED mean for EPA licensing?

One of the main functions of the Environmental Protection Agency has been the licensing and control of specified activities that are listed in:

  • the Third and Fourth Schedules to the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended, and
  • the First Schedule to the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 as amended

Under these acts, the Agency has to date granted waste licences and IPPC licences respectively.

The Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU), as it has been transposed into Irish legislation, has changed the existing situation and has introduced a third class of licence that can be granted by the Agency, the Industrial Emissions Licence. The European Union (Industrial Emissions) Regulations have amended the First Schedule of the EPA Acts to state which activities are licensable in accordance with Annex I of the Industrial Emissions Directive and will require an Industrial Emissions Licence.

What does the IED specifically mean for Waste Licensing?

In relation to waste activities and of interest to waste licence applicants, the range of waste activities listed in the new First Schedule (class 11) has been expanded.

There is going to be a major change in the way that these First Schedule waste activities (class 11) will be licensed by the Agency. The First Schedule waste activities will in future be licensed by the Agency under:

  • the EPA Act 1992 as amended; and 
  • the European Union (Industrial Emissions) (Licensing) Regulations 2013

and not, as has been the case to date, under: 

  • the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended; and 
  • the Waste Management (Licensing) Regulations 2004.
For a waste class of activity already licensed under the Waste Management Act should I always be able to find a corresponding Class of Activity under the Industrial Emissions Directive?

The Industrial Emissions Directive has introduced a new type of licensing.  Whereas in the past we had waste licenses under the Waste Management Act as amended and IPPC licenses under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 as amended we now have a third type of licence - the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) licence.  Under the IED there is a new set of capacity thresholds (perhaps daily or annual capacity thresholds) which bring activities under the control of the IED and the thresholds may depend on the intended destination of the waste.  For example the composting of waste now has an associated threshold of 50 tonnes per day (Class 11.4(a)(i)) if the waste is destined for disposal but if the waste is intended for recovery, or a mix of disposal and recovery, then the threshold is 75 tonnes per day (Class 11.4(b)(i)).

Clearly then you will not find a direct correlation between classes of activity under IED and classes of activity under the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended.

When does Class 11.1 apply/ not apply?

A Class 11.1 activity must have a connection or association with another activity at the same licenced site and can only be an ‘additional’ class of activity.

Class 11.1 is not an IED class of activity.  Class 11.1 will generally only be applicable where there are non-IED classes of activity being carried on at a facility in addition to IED classes of activity.  Class 11.1 can be associated with any other IED activity, and not just other class 11 waste activities.  It is therefore not the case that Class 11.1 can be the only class applying to your activity.

Class 11.1 is the 'recovery or disposal of waste in a facility, within the meaning of the Act of 1996, which facility is connected or associated with another activity specified in this Schedule in respect of which a licence or revised licence under Part IV is in force or in respect of which a licence under the said Part is or will be required'.

Could a landfill at a licensed site fall under Class 11.1 instead of 11.5?

A landfill that is covered by the IED will be licensed as class 11.5.  For a landfill to be class 11.1, it must be the following:

  • not a landfill subject to the IED; and
  • connected or associated with an IED activity.

Further guidance will issue on how to decide if a landfill is covered by the IED.

How do I interpret the term ‘Capacity’?

Many of the IED classes of activity talk about production capacity, consumption capacity, treatment capacity, etc., but how do you interpret the term ‘capacity.’ 

Simply put the term refers to both the legal (for example limitations placed on a production capacity by legislation, planning permission or licence) and the technical capacity of an installation (for example the technical or physical limitations on waste processing capacity as a result of infrastructure or machinery).

For further discussion on the interpretation of “capacity” see the European Commission’s Guidance on Interpretation and Determination of Capacity under the IPPC Directive at  http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/pollutants/stationary/ippc/general_guidance.htm.

How do I interpret the term ‘Pre-Treatment’ as it pertains to activities under Class 11.4(a)(iii) and 11.4(b)(ii)?

The term "pre-treatment" is not defined in the Industrial Emissions Directive.  The term "treatment" is defined in the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) as:

'recovery or disposal operations, including preparation prior to recovery or disposal'.

The term 'treatment' has the same meaning as 'pre-treatment'.

Operators who carry out recovery and/or disposal activities on waste followed by dispatch of the waste for incineration or co-incineration should be regarded as carrying out “pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration” for the purposes of the new First Schedule.

When deciding whether an activity comprises “pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration” for the purposes of the new First Schedule, applicants should consider what happens within the waste facility that is to be authorised, and not any treatment or pre-treatment that took place previously at another facility or the presence of waste segregation practices at the point of waste collection.

The following should not generally be regarded as constituting "pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration":

  • the incidental generation of waste from waste treatment activities and the dispatch of such incidental waste for incineration.

Solid recovered fuels and refuse derived fuels are often but not always produced to a technical specification that might also comprise a quality standard and/or a quality assurance scheme.  They are also often produced to be classified by the EWC codes 191210 or 191212.  The absence of:

  • a technical specification,
  • a quality standard, 
  • a quality assurance scheme, and/or 
  • EWC codes 19 12 10 and 19 12 12

for a solid recovered fuel or refuse derived fuel is not indicative that an activity does not comprise "pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration".

When is a landfill subject to the IED?

Text of class 11.5 of the First Schedule of the EPA Act 1992 as amended:

Landfills, within the meaning of section 5 (amended by Regulation 11(1) of the Waste Management (Certification of Historic Unlicenced Waste Disposal and Recovery Activity) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 524 of 2008)) of the Act of 1996, receiving more than 10 tonnes of waste per day or with a total capacity exceeding 25,000 tonnes, other than landfills of inert waste.

Text of class 5.4 of Annex I of the IED:

Landfills, as defined in Article 2(g) of Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste receiving more than 10 tonnes of waste per day or with a total capacity exceeding 25,000 tonnes, excluding landfills of inert waste.

The definition of landfill, as referenced in section 5 of the Act of 1996 and Article 2(g) of the Landfill Directive, is:

"landfill" means a waste disposal site for the deposit of waste onto or into land (i.e. underground), including:

  • internal waste disposal sites (i.e. landfill where a producer of waste is carrying out its own waste disposal at the place of production), and
  • a permanent site (i.e. more than one year) which is used for temporary storage of waste, but excluding
  • facilities where waste is unloaded in order to permit its preparation for further transport for recovery, treatment or disposal elsewhere, and
  • storage of waste prior to recovery or treatment for a period less than three years as a general rule, or
  • storage of waste prior to disposal for a period less than one year.
Read more details
What are the newly prescribed activities under First Schedule of the EPA Act 1992 as amended (existing installation not covered by the EPA Act to date)?

The following activities are newly prescribed and will require an Industrial Emissions Licence by 7th July 2015:

1.      The production of, organic/ inorganic chemicals, of phosphorus-based, nitrogen-based or potassium-based fertilisers, of plant health products and of biocides, of pharmaceutical products including intermediates, of explosives, provided that the activity concerns production by biological processing.

2.      The gasification and liquefaction of fuels other than coal, with a rated thermal input of 20MW or more.

3.      An activity specified in paragraph 7.8 (food and drink sector) that did not previously require a licence.

4.      In relation to the waste sector, certain waste licences will become IE licences and regulated under the EPA Act 1992 to 2013.

Given the complexity and scale of some IED activities, and in order to avoid possible delays caused by submitting an incomplete application, the EPA recommends that you engage in pre-application clarification/consultation prior to submitting your application for an IED licence. 

Contact the EPA Environmental Licensing Programme at licensing@epa.ie if you wish to arrange a pre-application meeting.

When does the slaughtering activity end and food production activity begin at an installation?

Having regard to the scope of both the Slaughterhouses and Animal by-products Industries BREF and the Food, Drink and Milk Industries BREF, the ‘slaughter’ activity (class 7.4.1) is considered to end with the making of standard cuts for large animals and the production of a clean whole carcase for poultry.  Standard cuts are defined as carcases, half carcases, half carcases cut into no more than three wholesale cuts and quarters.  Chilling is considered part of the slaughtering class, if it is chilling of the carcase or standard cuts.  For the purposes of clarity, the slaughter activity covers the removal of offal and appendages. 

 

Whereas the deboning of carcases, mincing and packaging for retail etc. at meat installations are food production activities (class 7.8(a)(i)).   The production of food from animal raw materials with a finished product production capacity of greater than 75 tonnes/day (class 7.8(a)(i)) at a meat installation is an additional licensable activity to the slaughtering activity where it is carried on at the same installation.

 

What are the newly prescribed activities in the food and drink sector (activities which previously did not require a licence)?

Newly prescribed activities in the food and drink sector include those installations involved in:

  1. The treatment and processing for the production of feed from animal and/ or vegetable raw materials, where finished product production capacity exceeds 75 tonnes per day where 10% or more animal raw material is used and 300 tonnes per day if only vegetable raw material. 
  2. The treatment and processing for the production of food or feed from a mixture of animal and vegetable raw materials at specified daily production capacity (a sliding scale for mixed production in the range 75 to 300 tonnes per day applies where less than 10% animal raw material is used).
  3. The treatment and process for the production of feed on a seasonal basis of more than 600 tonnes per day for a period of no more than 90 days in any year.
Read more details
What’s next for Large combustion plants – notice?

The Agency wishes to bring to your attention an impending date specified in the European Union (Large Combustion Plants) Regulations 2012 S. I. No. 566 of 2012 regarding the Limited life time derogation.

Where the operator of a combustion plant wishes to avail of the limited lifetime derogation under Regulation 11 of S.I. No. 566 of 2012, they must, inter alia, submit to the Agency by the 1 January 2014 a written Declaration not to operate the plant for more than 17,500 operating hours, starting from 1 January 2016 and ending no later than 31 December 2023, with plant closure thereafter.

Should you wish to avail of this derogation the Agency may need to amend or review your licence to ensure that the specific requirements of the LCP Regulations (S.I. No. 566 of 2012) are brought into effect and you will be notified of this in due course. These specific requirements are set out in Regulation 11 of S.I. No. 566 of 2012.

 

When does Class 11.6 apply?

A Class 11.6 activity is the temporary storage of hazardous waste pending any of the activities referred to in paragraph 11.2, 11.3, 11.5 or 11.7 with a total capacity exceeding 50 tonnes.  It does not apply to the temporary storage of hazardous waste on the site where the waste is generated and is awaiting collection. 

For example installations undertaking solvent reclamation or regeneration at a capacity greater than 10 tonnes/day, may also have a dedicated storage area for the associated hazardous waste.  Where the capacity of that dedicated waste storage area is greater than 50 tonnes, then class 11.6 applies.   It may be the case that the hazardous waste was generated on the site but as it is also undergoing solvent recovery at the installation, the dedicated storage area associated with the solvent recovery activity must be considered in the context of class 11.6. 

 

When is storage of waste an IED Activity ?

The storage of waste is a (pre-)treatment operation. In the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), ‘treatment’ means recovery or disposal operations, including preparation prior to recovery or disposal. Disposal and recovery operations are listed (in a non-exhaustive list) in Annex I and II respectively of the Directive. Activities D15 and R13 are storage operations, as follows:

  • D15 Storage pending any of the operations numbered D1 to D14 (excluding temporary storage, pending collection, on the site where the waste is produced.
  • R13 Storage pending any of the operations numbered R1 to R12 (excluding temporary storage, pending collection, on the site where the waste is produced.

If the storage operation takes place in what might be called the supply chain for “pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration”, then it is IED if over threshold because storage of waste is a waste recovery or disposal operation and therefore treatment.

What Is Temporary Storage of Waste?

According to the Waste Management Act 1996, as amended, the temporary storage of waste refers to the storage of waste for a period of not more than six months.

Radiation

What is radiation?

Radiation is energy that is transmitted in the form of waves or particles. Scientists divide radiation into two broad categories – ionising radiation, and non-ionising radiation.

Ionising radiation is a proven hazard because it has enough energy to break apart molecules such as DNA which may in time lead to cancer. Non-ionising radiation does not have enough energy to cause such damage.

Where are we likely to come across ionising radiation?

We encounter ionising radiation constantly.  It occurs naturally in the rocks and soil, in the food and water we eat and drink, and bombards the earth’s atmosphere from outer space.  It is produced artificially, and widely used in medicine, industry and research.  It is used in X-rays, in radiotherapy to treat cancers, in smoke detectors, and in many industrial processes.  The production of electricity from nuclear power generates ionising radiation as a by-product.

Where do we come across non-ionising radiation?

Non-ionising radiation is generated by everyday energy sources, including light, heat, TV and radio signals, mobile phone signals, microwaves, and electro-magnetic fields associated with power lines.  The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is currently responsible for the health effects of non-ionising radiation including electromagnetic fields.

What are the health risks from radon?

Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer in Ireland and worldwide after tobacco smoking.  Radon is responsible for up to 250 lung cancer cases in Ireland every year.

How does radon get into buildings?

Radon comes from the ground and gets into buildings mainly through cracks in floors or gaps around pipes or cables. As the pressure inside a building is slightly lower than the pressure outdoors, radon will be drawn from the ground into the building. This phenomenon is known as pressure-driven flow.

What is a typical radon level in a house in Ireland?

Radon levels vary from house to house depending on where the house is located, its construction type and how it is used. The average indoor radon level in Irish houses is 89 becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3), although levels up to 550 times this value have been measured.

Is a neighbour's radon test result a good indication of the radon level in my home?

No. Radon levels vary from house to house. The only way of knowing the level in your house is to have a measurement carried out in your own house.

Could radon account for other illnesses apart from lung cancer?

No. According to current scientific knowledge, there is no other proven health effect associated with radon exposure. The risk of developing lung cancer depends on the level of radon present and the time one has been exposed.

How long does a measurement take?

The EPA recommends a minimum measurement duration of three months. This is because there can be significant day to day variations in radon levels. Therefore the only way of confidently assessing your radon risk is by carrying out a three month test.  Only the results of a measurement made over at least three months can be compared to the national Reference Level.

Is there a radon grant to help me with the cost?

There is no grant available to cover for the cost of radon remediation. Some radon reduction techniques are more expensive than others and each one will need to be assessed on a case by case basis. However the typical price for retrofitting a radon sump into a standard house is approximately €850 (ranging from €450-€1150). Other, less expensive options are available, for example, improving the ventilation in your home by installing extra wall vents. However, the most suitable method will depend on the radon levels and on the type of building.

A Scheme of Housing Aid for Older People is available to assist older people, generally over 65 years, to have repairs or improvements carried out to their homes. Where a suite of works is being grant aided under this scheme, Local Authorities may also, as part of the package of works, assist with the provision of radon remediation works, where applicable. Contact the Housing Section of your Local Authority for further information. Additional information is also available from Citizen Information website.

The Home Renovation Incentive scheme allows homeowners to qualify for tax credits at 13.5% of the cost of renovation, repair or improvement works. Full details of the scheme are available from the Revenue Commissioners.

I am building a new house - what radon prevention measures are required?

Specific guidance on radon prevention measures for new homes is contained in this document which is published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

This Guidance specifies that all homes built since 1st July 1998 must be fitted with a standby radon sump which can be activated at a later stage, to reduce high radon concentrations subsequently found. For homes built in High Radon Areas, the installation of a radon barrier as well as a standby radon sump is required.

I am building a new house – can I have the site tested for radon?

Although techniques are available for measuring radon levels in soil, it is very difficult to determine what the level in a new house will be from the results of soil measurements. For this reason, the EPA does not consider site radon measurements to be a reliable means of predicting, before construction, whether a building will have a high radon level. Instead the EPA recommends that the radon levels be measured soon after the house is occupied.

I want to buy a house - what should I do with regard to radon?

We recommend that you check whether the home is in a High Radon Area on our radon map and enquire as to whether the home has ever been tested for radon.  However, if the house is located in a High Radon Area, it does not necessarily mean that it has high radon levels. The best course of action is to have a test done once you have moved in. Where a high radon level is detected, you can successfully reduce it at a cost which is very small when compared with the value of the house.

I am interested in buying a house - can I find out from the EPA if it has measured the radon level?

No. The EPA provides a confidential measurement service to homeowners. The EPA will not release the result of any measurement to anyone other than the person who requested the original measurement. You should ask the current owners if they have ever had the house tested for radon.

If my house is fitted with a radon barrier, can I be sure I won't have a radon problem?

No. Even if the radon barrier has been installed, it could have been damaged during the construction of the house. A single gap or hole in the barrier can make it ineffective. The only way of knowing is by testing your home for radon.

Shale-gas Fracking - Where has fracking for shale gas been done?

The technology has been widely used in the USA and Canada. Also in Australia (a moratorium is in effect in New South Wales), UK,France (the technique is currently banned due to environmental concerns), New Zealand, and among other jurisdictions.

Will the Farm Hazardous Waste Collection Scheme be running in 2019?

The Farm Hazardous Waste Collection Scheme will not be running this year.  It is currently under review by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the Department of Communications, Climate Action & the Environment. The EPA completed the 5 year pilot collection scheme in 2017. There are no future collections planned until the review is completed.

Information on hazardous waste collection permit holders is available from the National Waste Collection Permit Office http://www.nwcpo.ie/.

Where can I access information on improving resource efficiency/"greening" my business?

BeGreen brings together all of the activities and programmes that have been put in place by the EPA, local authorities and other partners to promote waste prevention, resource efficiency & behavioural change. The BeGreen programmes provide homes, business and other sectors of society with ways in which they can participate in making Ireland a more sustainable country while saving themselves money. The Green Businesss Tool which will enable you to carry out a quick overview of your resource efficiency in your company is available here.

​A Resource Efficiency Action Plan is the output arising from an on-site assessment or audit of how an organisation uses its energy, water and waste resources.Expert assessors can scrutinise how effectively your business uses its resources and make recommendations based on their findings.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment have further information on resource efficiency action plans and tools here.

Where can I get my well water tested?

You will need to engage the services of a private laboratory to analyse your drinking water supply from your private well. 

The Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) publish a list of laboratories that it has accredited to the ISO 17025 standard in recognition that they comply with testing in accordance with international and European standards. INAB’s Directory of Accredited Bodies for laboratory testing can be found here. Your local Environmental Health Officer willalso be able to advise on a suitable laboratory. 

Your local authority Environment Section is responsible for providing advice and guidance in relation to your private well.

The Householder Information on Private Wells section on the EPA website has detailed information and guidance in relation to protecting your private well supply and a dedicated  frequently asked questions section on private wells.

 

 

 

Where can I find information on water quality at my local beach?

Before you visit the beach this summer with your family or friends, check www.beaches.ie or our Twitter feed @EPABeaches, for information on current water quality and details of any incidents affecting bathing waters. When you get to the beach always check the local notice board to ensure the water quality is good before getting into the water for a swim.

The EPA report Bathing Waters in Ireland 2018, infographic and map of the quality of Ireland’s Bathing water sites are available on the EPA website.

What can I do to prevent plastic waste?
  1. Use a reusable water bottle rather than buying single-use plastic bottles. Refill at home or at work. For free water refills when out and about see www.refill.ie’s Tap Map for locations.

  2. Use a reusable coffee cup. See Conscious Cup Campaign for cafés that offer a discount or incentive for using a reusable cup.

  3. Bring reusable bags when shopping.

  4. Say no to plastic straws when buying a drink.

  5. Find plastic-free packaging alternatives when buying fruit and vegetables. Avoid buying meat and fish in plastic packaging trays.

  6. Swap to lower/no plastic cosmetic and cleaning products, use a bar of soap for example.

  7. Avoid on-the-go plastic-packaged food where possible.

  8. Avoid using other single-use plastic disposable items such as wet wipes.

  9. Once waste has been generated it is important to manage it correctly so that it can be recycled where possible. For information on how to separate your waste to ensure maximum recycling please refer to the My Waste website: https://www.mywaste.ie/what-to-do-with-my-recycling/

  10. For other tips on waste prevention and living sustainably see www.livegreen.ie.

Who will inspect your septic tank/domestic wastewater treatment system?

The local authority will carry out the inspection of your septic tank/domestic wastewater treatment system.  While the EPA has developed a National Inspection Plan which outlines the approach to be taken and identifies areas of high risk (e.g., sensitive receptors such as drinking water supplies and bathing water), each local authority has responsibility for carrying out the inspections.   For further information view our website.

What is the most important step that can be taken to prevent single-use plastic pollution?

Preventing plastic waste being generated is the most important step – if waste isn’t generated it doesn’t have to be collected for treatment or end up as litter. Preventing waste can happen at many stages in the life-cycle of a product - in its design, production, distribution, consumption and use.

Where can I find advice on managing my household waste and information on local waste services, bring banks and recycling facilities?

Waste Management planning is the responsibility of local authorities.

My Waste provides advice and information for householders in relation to the management of waste. REPAK also have advice and guidance on their website in relation to recycling your waste.

Further information on waste prevention in the home is available from the Live Green section on the EPA website.

What is environmental noise?

Environmental noise is 'unwanted sound' arising from all areas of human activity such as noise from transport, industrial and recreational activities. Excessive noise can:

  • seriously harm human health, including mental health
  • interfere with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home & during leisure time
  • disrupt sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects
  • lower performance, lead to annoyance responses and changes in social behaviour

In Ireland, we would normally consider noise complaints under four main categories:

  • entertainment
  • domestic/neighbourhood noise
  • industrial/commercial activities
  • transport related noise
What can I do about noise nuisance?

There are a number of steps open to you under the law when you are experiencing nuisance caused by noise.  The procedures detailed below are designed to cover general neighbourhood type noise problems, such as continual noise from other houses home workshops, local businesses etc.  The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No.179 of 1994) provide redress in the case of these types of problems.  They are designed to allow straightforward access to the Courts by individuals or groups concerned atout excessive noise.

When can I take action to deal with noise as nuisance?

Whenever you consider a noise to be so loud, so continuous, so repeated or of such duration or pitch, or occurring at such times that it gives you reasonable cause for annoyance you can initiate action to deal with it.

What action can I take?

Initially, it may be sufficient to explain to whoever is causing the noise that it is a nuisance and come to some mutually acceptable understanding.  If this does not resolve the matter you will need to take the following steps:

  • contact your local authority for assistance on general neighbourhood as detailed above. Noise compaints about  privately rented accommodation should be directed to the landlord and the relevant city/county council in the case of local authority housing.  
  • contact the EPA if you want to make a complaint about an EPA licenced activity
  • you may exercise your right to make a formal complaint to the District Court seeking an Order to deal with the nuisance.  Forms are available from the District Court office.
What can be done about noise arising from commercial and construction activities?

Noise from construction activities or the activities of a commercial premises are dealt with under Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, which provides local authorities (city/county councils) with the powers to limit or prevent noise.

Noise from Commercial Premises:

Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 provides local authorities with powers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise.  These powers are generally exercised in preventing and limiting noise from commercial and industrial premises within their functional areas.  A Notice can be served by a local authority on any person in charge of any premises, processes or works, other than an activity controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Construction Noise:

There is no statutory period during which certain works e.g. construction, road works, DIY etc. are prohibited.  However, a Planning Authority (city/county council) may attach conditions to individual planning permissions for any development on a case by case basis.  These tailored conditions may include restrictions on the times when construction work can be undertaken.

If you are encountering noise from a construction site you should, in the first instance, contact your Planning Authority (city/county council) to ascertain whether any such conditions apply.  A local authority can still address the issue under Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 which provides them with powers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise.  You can also address the issue by taking a case to the District Court under the Noise Regulations.

The Department of Communications, Climate Change & Environment has issued a self-explanatory leaflet entitled "Guide to the Noise Regulations" which outlines the steps to be taken where a person is experiencing nuisance caused by noise.  It includes a form, which can be filled in and then forwarded to the Clerk of the local District Court. There is no requirement to be represented in Court by a solicitor.  In addition, as there are no statutory limits currently in place, noise-monitoring data is not necessarily required; however, it may be beneficial in comparing data with the World Health Organisation (WHO) noise exposure recommendations.  Alternatively, a written record which includes dates and times during which the perceived noise nuisance occurred and/or a tape recording of the type of noise experienced, can provide important evidence which can be presented in Court.

What can be done if I am experiencing nuisance noise from a neighbour?

The source of a neighbourhood noise complaint most often dictates the way it should be addressed, depending on whether the individual causing the noise nuisance is a private rented tenant, a local authority tenant or a private home-owner.

Private Rented Tenants:  In the case of noise nuisance being caused by individuals in private rented accommodation, the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 imposes minimum statutory obligations on landlords and tenants of private residential tenancies.  Tenant obligations under the Act include an obligation not to engage or allow visitors to engage, in anti-social behaviour which is defined as including persistent noise that interferes with the peaceful occupation of other dwellings in the neighbourhood.  The Act also imposes an obligation on landlords to enforce the tenant obligations.

There is a provision in the Act for third parties who are adversely affected by a failure on the part of a landlord to enforce tenant obligations to refer a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) in accordance with the procedures in the Act.  If an alternative legal remedy, such as the remedy provided for under the  Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 179)  is being pursued, then the RTB cannot intervene.  All privately-rented properties must be registered with the RTB.  You can check if a property is registered by contacting the RTB.

Local Authority Tenants:  Noise nuisance caused by local authority tenants are also covered under the legislation.  The tenancy agreement, which is the legal basis of the relationship between the local authority and its tenants, will generally contain provisions in relation to the type of behaviour that is acceptable, and that which is not. The local authority is empowered under Section 62 of the Housing Act 1966, to initiate proceedings to secure an eviction where a tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy agreement.  Please contact your local authority if you have a complaint regarding the behaviour of one of their tenants.

Private Home Owner:  If the person causing a noise nuisance is a private homeowner then obviously the potential remedies outlined above do not apply.  In this case, the person experiencing the noise nuisance will have to avail of the remedy provided under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 179)  whereby any individual person, or a local authority, may complain to a District Court seeking an Order to deal with the noise nuisance. 

The Department of Communications, Climate Change & Environment has issued a self-explanatory leaflet entitled "Guide to the Noise Regulations" which outlines the steps to be taken where a person is experiencing nuisance caused by noise.  It includes a form, which can be filled in and then forwarded to the Clerk of the local District Court. There is no requirement to be represented in Court by a solicitor.  In addition, as there are no statutory limits currently in place, noise-monitoring data is not necessarily required; however, it may be beneficial in comparing data with the World Health Organisation (WHO) noise exposure recommendations.  Alternatively, a written record which includes dates and times during which the perceived noise nuisance occurred and/or a tape recording of the type of noise experienced can provide important evidence which can be presented in Court.

Who do I contact regarding problems from barking dogs?

Problems arising from barking dogs are covered under the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 & 1992.  A copy of the Form used for complaints to the Courts about noise from dogs is available from your local authority (city/council).

What can I do about noise arising from public events such as pop concerts or festivals?

Any event such as a concerts or festivals, would normally require planning permission, however in some cases, a particular venue may have prior approval to stage a set number of concerts/events per annum.  The appropriate local authority (city/county council) should be contacted in relation to any planning conditions relating to noise for these once off events.

 

How to deal with quarries causing noise and general annoyance?

The Environmental Protection Agency has no statutory function in the regulation of aggregate and construction stone/gravel quarries and pits as they do not come under the licensing function of the Agency. In the main, these activities are regulated under planning and development legislation.

Section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 imposes a statutory regime for the regulation of quarries in Ireland. All quarries must now register with the planning authority in their locality and it is the planning authority’s responsibility to regulate the quarry through the planning process.

Furthermore, Section 151-164 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides the planning authority with a range of enforcement powers in dealing with unauthorised developments or breaches of conditions.

Please note that Section 63(10) of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003 specifically prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from exercising any power or control in relation to the making of a decision on an application for planning permission.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you should continue to report any further incidents of pollution preferably in writing, to your Local Authority.

However, if you consider the performance of the Local Authority to be unsatisfactory in resolving this issue, you are advised to put your complaint in writing to the complaints officer in that Local Authority.

If you feel that you have been adversely affected by the planning authority's actions or you are dissatisfied with the service you have received from the local authority, you can contact the Office of the Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman will not consider the planning issues involved but will investigate the administrative actions of the local authority in considering your complaint. 

Furthermore, please note that the Ombudsman’s staff attend monthly at a Citizens Information Centre to take complaints. Please see The Citizens Information website for more information.

The Ombudsman can be contacted at:

Office of the Ombudsman,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-639 5600 Locall 1890 22 30 30
Email: ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.ie
Website www.ombudsman.ie

Who do I contact regarding traffic noise?

The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 179 of 1994) are not designed to cover noise from roadways.  Complaints about local traffic related noise should be addressed to the relevant roads authority in the first instance.  For national road schemes, potential noise emissions are addressed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process undertaken by, or on behalf of, the National Roads Authority.

In addition, EU Directive 2002/49/EC sets out certain requirements for the assessment and management of environmental noise from transport sources (including major roads) including the making of strategic noise maps and action plans.  For major roads or roads with significant traffic flows the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006 (S.I. 140 of 2006) provide for the implementation of action plans to reduce the effects of noise from roads.

 

What can be done about the noise from crow guns/bangers?

If the use of noise devices by farmers, to scare off birds eating their crops (knows as "crow guns/bangers") is causing a nuisance,  and you consider that the noise to be so loud, so continuous, so repeated, of such duration or pitch,  or occurring at such times that it gives you reasonable cause for annoyance you can take action.

What action can I take?

  1. Initially, it may be sufficient to explain to the farmer that it is a nuisance and so come to some mutually acceptable understanding. 
  2. If this does not resolve the matter you may wish to consider contacting the Environmental Section of your local authority/county council to ascertain whether it is in a position to take action.
  3. Finally, you may exercise your right to take redress through the District Court under the Noise Regulations.  However, before proceeding with a complaint, you are advised, to consult your local authority (where applicable) or seek legal advice.

The role of the District Court

The District Court hears both sides of the case. If it finds in your favour, it can order the reduction of the noise to a specified level, limit it to specific times or to cease altogether.

How do I complain to the District Court?

  1. Consult with the Clerk of your local District Court about a date for the hearing of your case.
  2. You must inform the person concerned that you will be making a complaint to the District Court. The date for the hearing of the case must be at least seven days later than the date you inform the person or body causing the noise.
  3. You have to fill out a form and present your case in court. As a general rule, it is important to have a record of the times and dates when the noise nuisance occurred.


The Department of Communications, Climate Change & Environment has issued a self-explanatory leaflet entitled "Guide to the Noise Regulations" which outlines the steps to be taken where a person is experiencing nuisance caused by noise.  It includes a form, which can be filled in and then forwarded to the Clerk of the local District Court. There is no requirement to be represented in Court by a solicitor.  In addition, as there are no statutory limits currently in place, noise-monitoring data is not necessarily required; however, it may be beneficial in comparing data with the World Health Organisation (WHO) noise exposure recommendations.  Alternatively, a written record which includes dates and times during which the perceived noise nuisance occurred and/or a tape recording of the type of noise experienced, can provide important evidence which can be presented in Court.

How is wind energy noise regulated?

The local authorities (city/county councils) are responsible for the licensing of wind farms under the Planning and Development Acts.  Complaints relating to noise from windfarms should be addressed to the relevant local authority.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Following detailed engagement between the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (DHPCLG) and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), an emerging “preferred draft approach” to the review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines was jointly announced on 13 June 2017. Further information is available here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where can I find information on the health related impacts from environmental noise?

The Directorate-General (DG) Environment  published a study in 2014 on the health implications of road, railway and aircraft noise in the European Union (EU) which found that exposure to noise in Europe contributes to:

  • around 910,000 additional prevalent cases of hypertension
  • 43,000 hospital admissions per year
  • at least 10,000 premature deaths per year related to heart disease & stroke

In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region which sets out how noise pollution in our towns and cities is increasing. It demonstrates how excessive noise particularly from transport sources is a health risk - contributing to cardiovascular diseases and metabolic effects.  The main purpose of these guidelines is to provide recommendations for protecting human health from exposure to environmental noise originating from various sources.

The implementation of the WHO Guidelines is currently being negotiated at European Union (EU) level and the development of any future national noise policy in Ireland may be influenced by the outcome of this transposition process. The Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE) will be the lead authority for this policy area.

 

What are single-use plastic products?

Single-use plastic products include a wide range of commonly used plastic items that are expected to be used just once, or for a short time, before being thrown away. They are rarely recycled and are prone to becoming litter. Single-use plastic products include: beverage containers and cups, lightweight plastic carrier bags, food containers, plastic cutlery and plates, plastic straws, beverage stirrers, packets and wrappers made from flexible material containing food intended for immediate consumption, cotton bud sticks, tobacco products with filters, wet wipes, balloons, sticks to support balloons and sanitary products.

Why are single-use plastic products an issue?

The growing use of plastic in short-lived applications, which are not designed for reuse or cost-effective recycling, is unsustainable. We want to move away from the linear economic model of take>make>use>dispose to a circular economic model where materials are used and reused as efficiently as possible. In a circular economy, non-essential single-use plastic products are eliminated, or their consumption is significantly reduced.

Where single-use plastic product waste is not properly managed, it ends up as litter on land or in water. Plastics degrade over time into microplastics.  Microplastics - very small pieces of plastic, less than 5mm in length - stay in the environment for a very long time.

What is being done at a national level to prevent single-use plastic pollution?

Ireland’s National Waste Prevention Programme is led by the Environmental Protection Agency and plastics is a priority focus. Some of the National Waste Prevention Programme activities supporting plastic waste prevention are:

The Be Green Programme brings together all the activities that have been put in place by the EPA to promote waste prevention, resource efficiency and behavioural change.

Ireland has been proactive regarding single-use plastic products; government departments and public bodies are leading the way in cutting down on the use of single-use plastics. The Green Government initiative launched in January 2019 includes the following measures:

  • No government department will purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery or straws for use within their offices from January 2019.

  • All public bodies, including state agencies and schools, will not purchase single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws after March 2019, except where specific public health/hygiene or safety issues arise.

  • All government departments will develop resource efficiency action plans by the end of June 2019. These plans will help staff make savings in energy and water use as well as preventing food waste and maximising recycling.

  • The Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment will work with the Office of Government Procurement to bring forward proposals on how national public procurement policy can take account more fully of environmental matters. This will ensure state contracts include the full life cycle cost of our purchases.

For further information on National Waste Policy please contact the Waste Policy Section of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment wastemanagementpolicy.info@dccae.gov.ie

The EPA also produces National Waste Statistics and evidence on plastic waste to influence policy and prompt behaviour change.

What is being done at a European level to prevent single-use plastic pollution?

In January 2018 the European Commission published “A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy”. The strategy aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated and the leakage of plastic waste into the environment, especially the marine environment. By 2030, it anticipates that all plastic packaging placed on the EU market will be recyclable and single-use plastic product consumption will be reduced.

One of the actions from the EU Strategy for Plastics was the publication in June 2019 of Directive EU 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. The Directive focusses on reducing certain single-use plastic products, those that represented about 86% of the plastic waste found in counts on beaches in the EU. The measures in the Directive will include: reducing consumption; restrictions to placing plastics on the market; product requirements (e.g. setting the amount of recycled plastic to be in PET bottles placed on the market); marking requirements to inform consumers of the presence of plastics and appropriate waste management options; extended producer responsibility requirements; separate collection targets and awareness raising measures.

For full details please refer to the Directive https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2019/904/oj. This Directive will be transposed into national legislation within two years.

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