Latest EPA Research 2030 Reports

in: Research EPA Research Reports
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Research 407: Residential Solid Fuel Use in Ireland and the Transition Away from Solid Fuels

Authors: John Eakins, Bernadette Power, Niall Dunphy and Gordon Sirr, April 2022

Year: 2022

The EPA has highlighted air quality issues in urban centres in Ireland in recent years. Emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), attributable to the burning of solid fuels, such as coal, peat and wood, are a particular cause of concern. This research project aims to provide a deeper understanding of the sector using existing and new sources of data on solid fuel use. The development of a new data set based on a survey of household heating and fuel use will be the primary contribution.

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Research 406: Sharing Lessons Learned from Water Governance

Authors: Joanna O’Riordan, Richard Boyle, John O’Neill, Fergal O’Leary and Laura Shannon, March 2022

Year: 2022

Clean, healthy water is essential for our economy, our aquatic wildlife and our health and wellbeing. However, as noted in the draft third-cycle River Basin Management Plan (Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, 2021), there are mounting environmental pressures on Ireland’s waters with the situation described as ‘’urgent’’. The objective of this research was to review changes in structures and processes made under the second-cycle River Basin Management Plan, 2018–2021, to inform thinking regarding the third-cycle River Basin Management Plan, 2022–2027.

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Research 405: Qualifying and Quantifying the Reuse Sector in Ireland

Authors: Colum Gibson, Keelin Tobin, Claire Downey, Sarah Miller, Laura Niessen, Roberta Bellini and Tadhg Coakley, March 2022

Year: 2022

Recent EU legislation aims to strengthen reuse in all Member States and asks Member States to measure reuse, with the option of setting national targets in the future. By gathering information on the scale and size of the reuse sector in Ireland, we can benchmark and compare our reuse sector against others. This study assessed the capability of the Irish reuse sector to supply the data necessary for quantifying the extent of reuse in Ireland and informing Irish policymakers on the steps required to support the sector to report in the future.

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Research 404: PhenoClimate: Impact of Climate Change on Phenology in Ireland

Authors: Astrid Wingler, Fiona Cawkwell, Paul Holloway, Gourav Misra, Rubén de la Torre Cerro and Calum Sweeney, March 2022

Year: 2022

The PhenoClimate project determined the impact of climate change on seasonal life cycle (phenological) events and the consequences for species interactions. For Irish woodlands, an advance of the growing season in spring was identified using satellite remote sensing. Arrival of migratory birds was found to advance too, however, instances in which migratory birds showed asynchrony with insect first flight dates were identified, suggesting that climate change can result in phenological mismatch.

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Research 403: EcoMetrics – Environmental Supporting Conditions for Groundwater-dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems

Authors: Laurence Gill, Saheba Bhatnagar, Ella Bijkerk, Shane Regan, Celia Somlai, Owen Naughton, Bidisha Ghosh, Stephen Waldren, Catherine Coxon and Paul Johnston, February 2022

Year: 2022

Wetlands provide important regulating ecosystem services, such as water purification, carbon capture and storage, and flood protection. They also provide rich habitats for biodiversity, including many protected species. This research project evaluated and developed methods for the assessment and definition of appropriate ecohydrological metrics to help policymakers conserve and/or restore wetlands, particularly with respect to meeting the objectives of the Water Framework Directive and Habitats Directive as applied to GWDTEs in Ireland.

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Research 402: Climate Change Adaptation: Risks and Opportunities for Irish Businesses

Authors: Karen Deignan, Aideen O’Hora, Orlaith Delargy, Laura Heuston and Conor Morrow, February 2022

Year: 2022

Climate change is already affecting Irish businesses and these impacts are likely to increase in severity. Our research identified material climate risks (pressures) for Ireland’s private sector. By raising awareness of climate risks and opportunities, this research can help the private sector identify and develop solutions to address the environmental and economic challenges that they face. This project can also inform the development of solutions to develop business-level (rather than sector-level) resilience and adaptation plans.

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Research 401: Peatland Properties Influencing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removal

Authors: Florence Renou-Wilson, Kenneth A. Byrne, Raymond Flynn, Alina Premrov, Emily Riondato, Matthew Saunders, Killian Walz and David Wilson, January 2022

Year: 2022

Irish bogs have been drastically altered by human activities and the sampled peat properties reflect the nature and magnitude of the impact of land use and management. A recognition of the heterogeneity found across Irish peat soils, together with an understanding of the relationships between key soil properties, are critical for developing effective strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of these degraded ecosystems. Our findings clearly support the need for a site-by-site approach for rewetting management schemes.

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Research 400: Use of Constructed Wetlands for Treating Mine Waste Leachates: Assessment of Longevity and Management Implications

Authors: Ashlene Hudson, John Murnane and Ronan Courtney, December 2021

Year: 2021

Mine waste storage facilities can generate significant quantities of wastewaters and leachates with extreme pH and elevated metal contents. Modern mine waste (tailings) facilities operating under licence from the EPA have constructed wetlands as a component of their Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licences. This study provides evidence of the effectiveness of constructed wetlands for treating mine waters from different settings over time frames of several years.

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Research 399: Mapping Green Dublin: Strategic Pathways to Community-led Greening

Authors: Alma Clavin, Niamh Moore-Cherry and Gerald Mills, December 2021

Year: 2021

Enhancing green infrastructure in densely populated centres is an important means of improving urban environments, with benefits for air and water quality, as well as biodiversity enhancement. The project Mapping Green Dublin examined the variable green cover in the Dublin City Council area. It has generated data on the city’s trees, identified those places with significant environmental deficiencies and worked with the local community to develop a greening strategy for the Dublin 8 area. Mapping Green Dublin has established a process for effective engagement with neighbourhoods that allows residents to be participants in the design of their own spaces.

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Research 398: Eco-driving: Trends and Potential Impacts for Irish Heavy-duty Vehicles

Authors: Ajinkya S. Mane and Bidisha Ghosh, December 2021

Year: 2021

The “Eco-HDV” research project evaluated the impacts of adaptation of eco-driving programmes in the Irish heavy-duty vehicle fleet, focusing especially on the freight sector. The research identified perceptions and awareness of eco-driving training, reviewed the best eco-driving practices and analysed the possibilities of adaptation of eco-driving programmes. The project generated guidelines for the implementation of eco-driving programmes and other measures to reduce vehicular emissions from the Irish heavy-duty vehicle fleet.

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Research 397: Framework for Achieving the Environmental Sustainable Development Goals

Authors: Enda Murphy, Patrick Paul Walsh and Aparajita Banerjee, December 2021

Year: 2021

This report contributes to a range of international and national policy areas, creating a positive feedback loop between policies for environmental SDG promotion, governance for the SDGs and integrated environmental policymaking. It provides an important evidence base for assessing national progress on the environmental SDGs relative to EU peer nations. This is the first time that Ireland’s progress on the SDGs has been assessed on an SDG target and indicator basis relative to peer nations.

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Research 396: Catchment Models and Management Tools for Diffuse Contaminants (Sediment, Phosphorus and Pesticides): DiffuseTools Project

Authors: Ian Thomas, Michael Bruen, Eva Mockler, Christopher Werner, Per-Erik Mellander, Sim Reaney, Anna Rymszewicz, Gavan McGrath, Edith Eder, Andrew Wade, Adrian Collins and Berit Arheimer, November 2021

Year: 2021

Eutrophication, often driven by phosphorus, is the most significant issue for inland surface waters in Ireland. Half of Irish river water bodies still require improvements to bring them to good status, as required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC). This research contributes to Ireland’s response to the third River Basin Management Plan of the WFD and to the development and implementation of more sustainable and cost-effective agricultural policies.

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Research 395: Cumulative Health Effects of Metal(loids) through Aggregate Environmental Pathways

Authors: Rajat Nag and Enda Cummins, November 2021

Year: 2021

Background levels of metal(loid)s coupled with anthropogenic sources may lead to increased levels of certain metal(loid)s in soil, leading to potential uptake by plants. This study develops a source–pathway–receptor conceptual model for metal(loid)s in environmental media. The study presents an approach that can be extended to further evaluate pollutants and their environment–health interactions.

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Research 394: Identifying Interactions for Sustainable Development Goal Implementation in Ireland

Authors: Martin Le Tissier and Hester Whyte, October 2021

Year: 2021

This report addresses how understanding of interlinkages between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030 and Ireland’s policy portfolio can advance understanding to meeting SDG targets and a “whole-of-government” approach to policy implementation.

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Research 393: Estimating the Quantity of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) Exported from Ireland As Used EEE

Authors: Kathleen McMahon, Chidinma Uchendu and Colin Fitzpatrick, October 2021

Year: 2021

Ireland has met or exceeded collection and recovery targets for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in recent years. However, as targets have risen, Ireland’s stakeholders must identify and address challenges presented by WEEE that does not arise in collection. This research identifies two pathways by which UEEE is exported for the purpose of reuse, namely through the shipment of roll-on roll-off vehicles and through the shipment of professional IT equipment, and it aims to quantify the amount of UEEE exported through each pathway.

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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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