The environmental role of county and city councils 

The local county and city councils (local authorities) are responsible for delivering a broad range of services to the communities that they represent and serve.  Among their many functions, they play a key role in protecting the environment in Ireland.  

There are thirty-one county and city councils in Ireland.  They are responsible for implementing over five-hundred environmental protection requirements in relation to Water, Waste, and Air that are detailed in over one-hundred pieces of legislation. 

Every year, their work includes: 

  • enforcing over 14,000 licences and permits 
  • carrying out close to 168,000 inspections 
  • supervising the quality of private water supplies 
  • dealing with environmental complaints from the public and taking enforcement actions and prosecutions  

Role of the EPA  

The EPA provides support and coordination to the county and city councils and also has a statutory role to supervise their environmental activities. 

Support and coordination 

We give a range of supports to local councils to help them with their environmental protection responsibilities including: 

  • co-ordinating the activities of the Network for Ireland’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement, NIECE. This is a network of organisations and individuals who are directly involved in the enforcement of environmental legislation, environmental engagement and promotion.
  • working with the councils to achieve and maintain high quality bathing waters. Our beaches.ie website provides information to the public on their local bathing waters.  
  • providing grant aid, technical support, training and networking opportunities to local county and city council staff. This helps to develop their expertise to improve waste prevention and circular economy activities at local level.  This work is carried out through the Local Authority Prevention Network (LAPN).
  • funding a national food waste prevention campaign, providing guidance and resources to help people to reduce their food waste.  To find out more, visit Stop Food Waste.   

Statutory oversight 

The EPA has a specific role, under Section 63 of the EPA Act, to supervise the performance by local councils of their statutory duties to protect the environment. We provide a way to make a complaint about the performance of a county or city council.

The EPA can review the statutory performance of county or city councils by: 

  • carrying out audits to assess how well they are performing their statutory environmental protection functions
  • Following these audits, we can instruct the local councils to take actions to resolve highlighted issues. We can ask them to report their progress and to let us know when the issues have been resolved
  • auditing the local councils annual monitoring plans for private drinking water supplies and making recommendations to ensure these plans meet requirements
  • measuring and reporting on the environmental enforcement performance of local councils using the Local Authority Environmental Enforcement Performance Framework

Make an environmental complaint 

The EPA facilitates the reporting of environmental complaints to county and city councils through the National Environmental Complaints Line (NECL) and the See It/Say It App.   Find out more about this at Make an environmental complaint.

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