EPA Director General calls for environment to be placed at the core of the National Development Plan

Date released: Sep 04 2006

The EPA's two day conference, Environment Ireland 2006, opened today with a strong focus on environmental policy priorities and the need to integrate these into Ireland’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2007 – 2013.

 “Successive State of the Environment reports published by the EPA have stressed the need for environmental issues to be integrated into other policy areas including economic, energy, agriculture and transport areas” said Dr Mary Kelly, Director General, EPA, speaking at the conference today.  “The EPA strongly believes that the National Development Plan provides a unique opportunity to integrate such environmental considerations into National policy”, Dr Kelly added.

The environment is often seen as pulling against objectives of economic development or other social wants.  However, future economic and social wellbeing are intrinsically linked with protecting Ireland’s environment and putting it at the heart of Irish society.  Pressures have been placed on air quality, inland waterways, estuarine and coastal waters, the terrestrial environment and Ireland’s natural heritage and biodiversity.  This pressure has been created principally by population growth and affluence, and by identifiable economic factors.

“With the preparation of the National Development Plan 2007-2013 well underway, the opportunity should not be missed to incorporate the principles of a Sustainable Development Plan and give equal status to economic prosperity; social equity & cohesion and environmental protection”, said Dr Kelly. “The National Development Plan will be more robust and sustainable if environmental considerations are incorporated”.

Other important policy areas to be discussed are those where a possible all-island
co-operation can be initiated or extended.  Such collaboration is needed to manage and plan protection on the island for our shared environment.

“Environmental issues often do not recognise borders and the North-South focus is an important feature of this year’s conference”, said Dr Kelly.  “While waste management and water protection are practical areas where co-operation is already ongoing, there are other areas, such as environmental governance, where we can learn from each other”.

Other key environmental issues to be examined over the course of the two day conference include resources management (waste, water, energy), climate change, sustainable development, transport, environmental regulation and the built environment.  The important area of risk communication and risk perception in environmental decision making will also be dealt with.

Notes to Editor:

The EPA Ireland’s Environment Conference, in association with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, is Ireland’s largest all island conference on environmental policy and management.  Bringing together all aspects of environmental policy and management, its objective is to create a genuine, in-depth understanding of areas where environmental issues have an impact on the island as a whole, and how progress can be made in those areas.