Date released: November 13, 2023
14th November 2023: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published its report on the environmental enforcement performance of local authorities in 2022. The report shows that the scale of environmental enforcement work carried out by local authorities is significant. Over 520 local authority staff handled almost 70,000 complaints and carried out over 197,000 environmental inspections.
The EPA assessed the performance of each local authority against each of the 20 national enforcement priorities (NEPs).
These fall into four main themes:
Ten local authorities achieved the required standard in 70 per cent or more of the assessments. These were Kildare, Meath, Fingal, Monaghan, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan, Dublin City, Carlow and Cork County. This is up from five local authorities the previous year.
Four local authorities achieved the required standard in only 30 per cent or less of their assessments. These were Waterford, Offaly, Kilkenny and Wexford.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Dr Tom Ryan, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said:
“Local authorities have a vital statutory responsibility in the protection of our local environment and are responsible for enforcing much of our environmental protection legislation. While the scale of environmental enforcement work carried out by local authorities is significant, in many areas it is not delivering the necessary environmental outcomes such as improved water and air quality and waste segregation."
Unfortunately, many key environmental indicators are static or trending in the wrong direction:
Dr Ryan added:
“The effective enforcement of environmental quality standards at the local level is essential. Local authority leadership is critical in delivering better environmental outcomes through the prioritisation of environmental enforcement and the appropriate allocation of resources.”
Poor waste segregation remains an ongoing problem with households and businesses still putting most of their waste in the wrong bin. Local authorities need to enforce the roll-out and use of 3-bin systems, to improve segregation and increase recycling of both household and commercial waste.
David Pollard, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said:
“The EPA’s recent waste characterisation study shows that many households and businesses are still failing to properly segregate their waste. Improving recycling rates through better segregation of wastes into the general, recycling and organics bins is essential if, as a nation, we are to turn waste into a valuable resource and reduce the amount of wastes we are sending to incineration and landfills. Local authorities have a vital role to play here by targeting their enforcement at the roll out and proper use of the 3-bin system.”
Overall water quality is not good enough, with just over half of rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters in satisfactory condition. Agriculture continues to have a significant impact on water quality, causing excess levels of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) to enter our waterways.
While the number of local authority farm inspections increased during 2022, the number is still too low. More farm inspections and follow-up enforcement is needed to reduce the risk of agricultural activities negatively impacting on water quality and to drive compliance with the Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) Regulations. The National Agricultural Inspection Programme, which commenced in 2022, sets out a risk-based approach to the targeting of inspections using the EPA’s Targeting Agricultural Measures Map. A priority for this winter (2023/2024) is that local authorities monitor that there is no spreading of soiled water, slurry or fertiliser on farmlands in the closed season or under unsuitable weather or soil conditions.
Air and Noise:
Local authorities assign a much lower level of resources to air and noise enforcement than waste and water enforcement. Whilst air quality met the standards in the Cleaner Air for Europe (CAFE) Directive in 2022 there are concerning localised issues relating to fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide that impact negatively on people’s health. Continued focus is required by local authorities to ensure that only approved solid fuels are available for sale, to reduce air pollution from the combustion of solid fuels for home heating.
Greater local authority action is needed to prevent noise pollution impacting on people’s health and wellbeing. Most local authorities struggle to implement their own Noise Action Plans developed under the Environmental Noise Regulations. Local authorities need to allocate adequate resources to deal with noise issues. In particular, they should co-ordinate actions with other bodies responsible for transport and roads and designate quiet areas in towns and cities.
The Focus on Local Authority Environmental Enforcement – Performance Report 2022 report is available on the EPA website.
Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or email@example.com
Notes to Editor:
EPA’s Local Authority Performance Framework:
|Theme||National Enforcement Priorities (NEPs) in 2022|
|Air & Noise||
RMCEI: European Parliament and Council Recommendation 2001/331/EC on the Recommended Minimum Criteria for Environmental Inspections in member states, known as “RMCEI”.
Download the smartphone App ‘See it? Say it!’ at the following links:
Apple iPhone: Download from the Apple App Store
Android smartphone: Download from the Android Playstore
This App makes it easy to report environmental pollution and to submit a photo at the touch of a button. If a person spots environmental pollution or dumping, open the App, take a photograph, add a few simple details including your contact details, and submit the complaint. The App will send the GPS coordinates to your local authority and make it easy for those investigating to locate the problem. This will allow your local authority to follow up on the complaint.
You can also call the National Environmental Complaints Line on 1800 365 123. The phone line is open 24-hours, 7 days a week and all calls will be answered by dedicated staff. The details of the complaint, such as location and nature of the complaint, will be recorded and passed to the relevant local authority, and followed up as appropriate.