Latest EPA Research 2030 Reports

in: Research EPA Research Reports
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Research 392: Guidance on Strategic Environmental Assessment–Environmental Impact Assessment Tiering

Authors: Riki Thérivel and Ainhoa González Del Campo, September 2021

Year: 2021

This Guidance on SEA-EIA Tiering aims to improve the links between SEA and EIA, using a range of good practice examples. It focuses on improving communication between SEA and EIA: getting SEA practitioners to write SEAs with EIAs in mind, and EIA practitioners to refer to SEAs in their EIA Reports. It also identifies institutional issues that can set a context which restricts tiering, including ‘silo assessment’, lack of training, and restrictive legal requirements.

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Research 391: Tiering of Environmental Assessment – The Influence of Strategic Environmental Assessment on Project-level Environmental Impact Assessment

Authors: Ainhoa González Del Campo, Riki Thérivel and Keletso Malepe, September 2021

Year: 2021

Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) aim to identify and mitigate environmental impacts resulting from the implementation of plans and programmes before they are adopted. This research was based on a literature review, interviews with 28 international and Irish experts, and a review of 19 Irish case studies. The research identified a range of good practice approaches to impact assessment tiering, which can be summarised as better communication between SEA and EIA practitioners.

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Research 390: Nitrogen–Sulfur Critical Loads: Assessment of the Impacts of Air Pollution on Habitats

Authors: Julian Aherne, Kayla Wilkins and Hazel Cathcart, September 2021

Year: 2021

Air pollution can have unacceptable impacts on the natural environment. In particular, elevated atmospheric nitrogen deposition can result in changes to the plant communities of natural and seminatural ecosystems, resulting in decreases in plant biodiversity. This project developed empirical critical loads of nutrient nitrogen for 17 Annex I habitats. The project analysis suggests that habitats within the Atlantic biogeographic region have critical loads at the low end or lower than existing UNECE recommended ranges for European habitats.

Research 389

Research 389: Evaluating the Multiple Values of Nature – ESDecide: from an Ecosystem Services Framework to Application for Integrated Freshwater Resources Management

Authors: Mike Christie, Jasper Kenter, Craig Bullock, Michael Bruen, Marcin Penk, Christian Feld and Mary Kelly-Quinn, August 2021

Year: 2021

The Water Framework Directive requires the EPA to monitor the quality of water in Ireland’s rivers and lakes. This research reviewed the multiple values and benefits of nature, often termed ‘ecosystem services’ or’ nature’s contributions to people (NCPs)’. It provides insights into the multiple ways people value rivers and associated ecosystem services/ NCPs. The research also developed a decision support tool to assess the impacts on ecosystem services/NCPs of alternative river catchment measures.

Research 388

Research 388: Circular Economy Opportunities – Raw Materials Ireland Project

Authors: Lisa O’Donoghue, Chinnam Rama Krishna, Eva Ujaczki and John Mulcahy, August 2021

Year: 2021

Ireland is home to primary industries in mining, materials processing and power generation. Today, most waste outputs associated with these industries are either sent for disposal or exported. The research focused on techniques for mechanical and physical separation, to unlock valuable materials such as iron, aluminium, calcium and critical raw materials (gallium, indium and phosphorus).

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Research 387: GRACE Monitoring of Groundwater over Ireland – A Feasibility Study

Authors: Michael Geever, Eve Daly and Aaron Golden, August 2021

Year: 2021

Changing population trends, growing urbanisation and associated economic development increase pressure on our water resources. This project investigates the feasibility of using space-based observations of gravitational anomalies, obtained by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), to assess groundwater variations at a regional level across the island of Ireland. The report fully documents ways of accessing, processing and visualising GRACE gravitational anomaly data, and outlines a means to integrate data from NASA’s land surface model with data from the EPA’s HydroNet groundwater well network.

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Research 386: The Status of Ireland’s Climate, 2020

Editors and Lead Authors: Walther C.A. Cámaro García and Ned Dwyer, August 2021

Year: 2021

As an island on the western boundary of Europe facing the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland is ideally positioned to measure and assess ongoing climate change. The first Status of Ireland’s Climate report was published in 2013. This second status report provides an update, incorporating new datasets and analyses as well as reporting ongoing climate observations over the last 7 years.

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Research 385: Air Pollution Sources in Ireland

Authors: Jurgita Ovadnevaite, Chunshui Lin, Matteo Rinaldi, Darius Ceburnis, Paul Buckley, LizColeman, Maria Cristina Facchini, John Wenger and Colin O’Dowd, July 2021

Year: 2021

The project successfully established the AEROSOURCE network, comprising three sophisticated aerosol mass spectrometer nodes positioned in strategic locations: Carnsore Point (regional background), Dublin (urban environment) and Mace Head (marine background). It enhanced the National Transboundary Air Pollution Network with near real-time aerosol chemical speciation (including organic matter) and source apportionment capabilities.

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Research 384: ClimAtt: Tools for Climate Change Attribution of Extreme Weather Events

Authors: Paul Leahy, Lucía Hermida Gonzalez, Kieran Hickey, Gerard Kiely, Myles Allen, Parvaneh Nowbakht and Adam Pasik, July 2021

Year: 2021

Extreme weather events, such as heavy or prolonged rainfall events, droughts and heatwaves, have the potential to cause significant social and economic disruption in Ireland. The ClimAtt project has examined the state of the art in climate change attribution of extreme weather events. Met Éireann’s observational records have been used to test and validate several climate model datasets for attribution purposes. The most appropriate datasets and methods to use to investigate the influence of climate change on extreme weather events occurring in Ireland have been recommended.

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Climate Research Coordination Group: Third Report on Activities: January - December 2020

This report has been prepared by the EPA on behalf of the Climate Research Coordination Group, July 2021

Year: 2021

This third report presents a summary of the Climate Research Coordination Group’s activities in 2020.

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Research 383: Towards a Good Practice Guide for Implementing CNOSSOS-EU in Ireland

Authors: Jon-Paul Faulkner, Enda Murphy, Henry J. Rice and John Kennedy, June 2021

Year: 2021

This guide addresses noise pollution from transport as a significant environmental pressure and public health concern. The guide is primarily targeted at practitioners charged with implementing the 5-yearly strategic noise mapping requirements of the Environmental Noise Directive (END). The guide also supports relevant authorities by providing robust analysis and instruction on how to implement strategic noise mapping under CNOSSOS-EU.

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Research 382: Transitioning to Strategic Noise Mapping under CNOSSOS-EU (Noise-Adapt)

Authors: Enda Murphy, Jon-Paul Faulkner, Henry J. Rice and John Kennedy, June 2021

Year: 2021

In the European Union (EU), 113 million people are estimated to be exposed to noise pollution from transport sources and this is detrimental to their health and quality of life. This report addresses noise pollution from transport as a significant environmental pressure and public health concern by providing recommendations that assist with the practical implementation of revisions to the Environmental Noise Directive.

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Research 381: An Irish Nutrient Platform to Underpin Sustainable Development

Authors: Vincent O’Flaherty, John McGrath, Dermot Hughes, Juan Castilla Archilla, Jose Antonio Pícon, Andrew Bartle, Therese Mahony, Katrina Macintosh and Etain Doherty, June 2021

Year: 2021

The UN Agenda for Sustainable Development consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), underpinned by 169 targets, which aim to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all”. These SDGs are expected to frame national policy agendas over the next 15 years in the context of both domestic and international policy, with an overarching desire to link environmental sustainability to sustainable economic development and the recognition that the management and protection of the environment are vital to economic wellbeing and a healthy society.

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Research 380: Innovative Water Monitoring

Authors: Kevin Fitzgibbon, William Whelan-Curtin, Chinna Devarapu, Patricia Loren, Colin O’Sullivan and Ian Aherne, June 2021

Year: 2021

The Innovative Water Monitoring project aimed to create an additional innovative sensing system for real-time detection of water quality parameters, to support the existing water quality monitoring policies, programmes and requirements under the Water Framework Directive, the Bathing Water Quality legislation, etc. It has demonstrated the ability to detect two such parameters, nitrates and Escherichia coli (E. coli), using the system.

Research 379

Research 379: Policy Coherence in Adaptation Studies: Selecting and Using Indicators of Climate Resilience

Authors: Stephen Flood, Ned Dwyer and Jeremy Gault, June 2021

Year: 2021

Adaptation action is now urgently needed to reduce the social, economic and environmental impacts of present and future climate change to ensure resilience to both extreme and slow-onset events under a changing climate. This project combines an analysis of international best practice and approaches to the development of climate adaptation indicators, co-designed by key stakeholder representatives from relevant state agencies and regional and national government, to identify a tailored suite of Ireland-relevant climate adaptation indicators. The co-design process identified a suite of 127 recommended indicators – 15 are climatological indicators, 23 are impact indicators, 32 are implementation indicators and 21 are outcome indicators. Ninety-one of these indicators were identified as priority.

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Research 378: Towards the Quantification of Blanket Bog Ecosystem Services to Water

Authors: Raymond Flynn, Francis Mackin and Florence Renou-Wilson, June 2021

Year: 2021

Blanket bogs are common in many areas of Ireland, contributing to our most iconic landscapes. However, although they cover approximately 13% of the country, natural processes sustaining blanket bogs remain poorly understood. This research aimed to better understand blanket bog hydrology through a 3-year programme in which researchers monitored the flow and water quality in streams draining Irish blanket bogs that are relatively intact.

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Research 377: Impacts of Microplastics in the Irish Freshwater Environment

Authors: Alicia Mateos-Cárdenas, Alexandra R.J. Jansen, John O’Halloran, Frank N.A.M. van Pelt and Marcel A.K. Jansen, June 2021

Year: 2021

Plastics are a key part of modern life, due to their desirable characteristics such as light weight and low cost. However, the extensive production of plastics is resulting in plastic pollution. This study recognises the risk posed by rapid formation of micro- and nanoplastics in the freshwater environment and advocates the rapid development of field-monitoring and impact studies to analyse hazards and risks posed by these plastics.

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Research 376: From Source to Sink: Responses of a Coastal Catchment to Large-scale Changes (Golden Strand Catchment, Achill Island, County Mayo)

Authors: Eugene Farrell, Mary Bourke, Tiernan Henry, Gesche Kindermann, Kevin Lynch, Terry Morley, Barry O’Dwyer, John O’Sullivan and Jonathan Turner, June 2021

Year: 2021

This research is a series of field experiments that measured patterns in the sediment and water pathways in the Golden Strand catchment, Achill Island, County Mayo. The results show that climate changes (storminess, temperature, precipitation) impacts are site specific and require long-term, multi-disciplinary field monitoring programmes (geomorphology; ecology; hydrology) to capture local specificity and environmental variability.

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Research 375: Development of Quality Standards for Compost and Digestate in Ireland

Authors: Percy Foster and Munoo Prasad, May 2021

Year: 2021

In Ireland, there are no national end-of-waste criteria for compost and digestate derived from source-separated materials. This study developed a quality standard for digestate and an updated standard for compost, it also recommends a strategy on how Ireland should implement national end-of-waste criteria for compost and digestate. It also examined best practice in other countries and options for having end-of-waste criteria.

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Research 374: Piloting Innovative Approaches in Sustainable Communities towards Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Ireland

Authors: Vincent Carragher and Hugh O’Reilly, May 2021

Year: 2021

This study set out to catalyse the sustainability transition of communities using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. The research had a branded, public-facing campaign, Spark Change (www.sparkchange.ie), which recruited communities to an SDG challenge, effectively asking and supporting them to progress their sustainability transition and related SDG actions.

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