Enforcement Targets Met But International Targets Now Looming

Date released: Feb 26 2007

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published its Annual Highlights, 2006, a report summarising the agency’s key activities during the year. Launching the report, Dr. Mary Kelly, Director General of the EPA, pointed out that the EPA has delivered on all major objectives set out in the Strategic Framework of 2003.

 

“These were ambitious targets,” Dr. Kelly said today.
“They required that we re-organise our structure to tackle the big issues emerging. We’ve done that. We’ve considerably increased our staff to meet our expanding remit. And we’ve met all of the targets set three years ago.”

 

 

“A key priority identified in the Strategic Framework was a more rigorous approach to the enforcement of environmental legislation.  To this end, the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, established in 2003, was given enhanced powers for tackling environmental crime.  We have used these powers to good effect” said Dr Kelly. 
“This year, three licensees were convicted on indictment in the Circuit Court and a further 15 were prosecuted in the District Courts.  Legally binding directions to local authorities requiring immediate action are also proving to be a very useful tool for enforcement.”

 

One of the tasks tackled by the EPA was the remediation of illegal dumping sites.  The report highlights two cases in which the site owners were required to remove all potentially polluting matter from the sites and to remediate the sites with inert material.

 

“These cases, and the way they were tackled by the EPA, send a clear message to those involved in illegal waste disposal practices,” Mary Kelly said.
“Remediation of these sites should bring to a close a shameful episode of illegal dumping in Ireland.”

 

The report continues the emphasis laid by the EPA on the need for greater integration of environmental considerations across all policy areas to meet the environmental challenges facing Ireland. Four significant international deadlines now loom in
the short and medium term – on greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, water quality and biodegradable waste.

Many different sectors contribute, directly or indirectly, to the pressures on the environment and international targets can only be reached if the environment is considered equally with the economic and social agendas at policy level, according to the Highlights 2006 report. It adds that the new National Development Plan provides the most important opportunity to put the required infrastructure in place, meet our international commitments and protect Ireland’s environment for future generations.

 

“Through accurate reporting on the environment, the EPA is playing its part in informing policy and making the Plan truly sustainable,”said Dr Kelly.

 

The Annual Highlights Report 2006, available here, gives details about the four separate offices within the EPA and what each achieved last year. The underlying tone of the document is one of urgency in the face of accumulating greenhouse gases and consequent global climate change.

 

“Urgent action is vital if we’re to avoid major and irreversible change to every aspect of our lives,” Dr Kelly warned today.