Independent Review of EPA endorses role and performance of Agency

Date released: May 30 2011

The EPA overall has provided ‘considerable benefit for Ireland’s environment and for the health and well-being of its people.’

The EPA welcomes the publication today of the Review of the EPA, carried out by an independent and expert Review Group. The independent Review was a commitment in the Programme for Government 2007, commenced in January 2010, completed in May 2011, and is the first review of the Environmental Protection Agency to be carried out. The EPA welcomes the endorsement of the role and performance of the EPA in the Report’s general finding that the EPA overall has provided ‘considerable benefit for Ireland’s environment and for the health and well being of its people’.

The review involved a comprehensive examination of the EPA and a public consultation process to gather views from the public and the widest range of interested parties. The assessment of the Agency was structured under a number of themes including:

  • Governance,
  • Internal Structure and Resources;
  • Licensing,
  • Assessment and Monitoring;
  • Environmental Research and Information;
  • Relationship with Stakeholders; and
  • Legislative Framework.

The final report makes 58 recommendations under these headings, some addressed to the Environmental Protection Agency itself and recommending a strengthening or deepening of some activities, or the undertaking of new approaches; others address the very important issue of national environmental governance and are addressed to the EPA along with other stakeholders including the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government; and others which would require changes and consolidation of legislation to take effect.

Commenting on the Report, Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr Mary Kelly, said:

“I very much welcome publication of this report which gives a clear and concise overview of the work of the EPA and which finds that ‘the achievements of the Agency since its foundation are widely recognised’. The general finding that the EPA has ‘grown and matured, providing considerable benefit for Ireland’s environment, and for the health and well-being of its people’ is a tribute to the hard work, expertise and professionalism of the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency, whose integrity and commitment to protection of Ireland’s environment is exemplary.”

On the recommendations Dr Kelly said:

“On initial reading, the recommendations, if implemented would lead to stronger environmental protection. Many of them reflect views the EPA has expressed over many years. We will examine the recommendations in detail and will make a formal response to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local government in the near future. Where the recommendations are addressed to the EPA and are in our power to implement, we will make every effort to do so.”

On the important point of safeguarding the achievements already made by the EPA in the field of environmental protection, Dr Kelly noted and welcomed the Review Group’s opinion that cutting back on the EPA’s resources would be false economy and that the longer term consequences, impacts on human health and well-being, wider impacts on biodiversity, and obligations under EU law will not permit it. Dr Kelly commented that,

“The EPA is a highly efficient and effective public sector organisation which is fit for purpose and can demonstrate value for money. It is very heartening to have independent endorsement of this at a time when there is so much criticism of public bodies. We will continue to look for further efficiencies and to work with other organisations to deliver a high level of environmental protection. It would be a pity to lose the gains we have made at this stage.”
“I would like to acknowledge the comprehensive analysis of the EPA undertaken by the members of the Review Group who gave unstintingly of their time and expertise. The Board of the EPA had a number of interactions with the Review Group whom we found to be fair and very thorough on each occasion. This review, by an independent and expert group, will be of immense benefit to the Environmental Protection Agency.”

The Review of the Environmental Protection Agency is available from the EPA website.

ENDS

Further information: Niamh Hatchell, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)