Environmental Liability

The European Communities (Environmental Liability) Regulations 2008, came into force in Ireland on 1 April 2009.  These Regulations (SI 547 of 2008) transpose EU Directive 2004/35/CE on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage.  The purpose of these Regulations is to establish a framework of environmental liability based on the 'polluter-pays' principle, to prevent and remedy environmental damage.  The Agency has been designated as the competent authority for all aspects of these Regulations.

What Defines Environmental Damage?

The Regulations supplement existing National and European Legislation to achieve the prevention and remediation of environmental damage by introducing, among other things, a reporting obligation on operators in respect of actual or threatened environmental damage.  Environmental damage under the Environmental Liability Regulations means:

  • Water damage that has significant adverse effects on water status under the Water Framework Directive.
  • Land damage that creates a significant risk to human health as a result of the direct or indirect introduction, in, on or under land, of substances, preparations, organisms or micro-organisms.
  • Damage to protected species and natural habitats.

The Regulations represent an overarching piece of legislation that can be used in concert with all the Agency's existing powers, but will only be used in the appropriate circumstances when environmental damage has occurred as a result of an incident.

Submission of observations or report an environmental damage incident

As an operator, you are required to notify the EPA, or as a non-operator, submit observations to the EPA about an incident which you believe has caused environmental damage or is an imminent threat of environmental damage

Submit details on-line of an incident or observation

Further Information

The Agency has published guidance on the Regulations.

Any queries on the Regulations should be addressed to our Land Thematic Unit which can be contacted via email info@epa.ie (clearly stating it is an Environmental Liability Unit query); by phone on LoCall 1890 33 55 99; or you can write to us at:

Environmental Liability Unit
Environmental Protection Agency
PO Box 3000
Johnstown Castle Estate
Co. Wexford

European Commission report on the effectiveness of the Environmental Liability Directive

Member State reports on the experience gained in the application of the Directive

Links to Legislation

  1. European Communities (Environmental Liability) Regulation 2008 (SI 547 of 2009)
  2. Environmental Liability Directive 2004/35/CE
  3. Draft Environmental Liability Bill