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 Regulations supplement existing national and European legislation by establishing a framework of environmental liability based on the 'polluter-pays' principle, making operators of an occupational activity (defined in Regulation 2) liable for the prevention and remediation of environmental damage that they may, or have, caused.
The EPA was designated as the Competent Authority for all aspects of these Regulations.
Environmental damage under the Environmental Liability Regulations means:
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.
The Regulations place an obligation on an Operator to take preventative measures to dispel any threats of environmental damage, or where damage has occurred to take measures to contain further damage. In addition, an operator must notify the EPA where an imminent threat, or actual case of, environmental damage has occurred. This can be done through the on-line submission form below.
The Regulations require the EPA as competent authority to direct operators to take measures (preventative or remedial) where there is an imminent threat of, or actual case of, environmental damage. It is an offence if an operator fails to comply with any such direction.
As an operator, you are required to notify the EPA where you believe there is an imminent threat of environmental damage or where environmental damage has occurred.
This form may also be used by affected members of the public or members of environmental advocacy organisations to submit observations with respect to cases of imminent threat or actual environmental damage.
The EPA published guidance on the Regulations in 2011. More recently, in April 2021, the European Commission published guidelines providing an interpretation of environmental damage. The EPA guidelines will be updated to reflect these guidelines. In the interim, the EC guidelines should be read in conjunction with the EPA guidance, and considered to supersede the EPA guidance where differences arise.
Any queries on the Regulations should be addressed to our Environmental Liability Unit which can be contacted via email email@example.com (clearly stating it is an Environmental Liability Unit query); by phone on LoCall 0818 33 55 99; or you can write to us at:
Environmental Liability Unit
Environmental Protection Agency
PO Box 3000
Johnstown Castle Estate
Implementation of environmental liability law in the EU
Legislation on Environmental Liability