A collection of frequently asked questions about the Environment and You.

Popular FAQs

  • What is asbestos?

    Asbestos is a natural mineral made up of many small fibres. There are three main types:

    • Blue asbestos - crocidolite
    • Brown asbestos - amosite
    • White asbestos - chrysotile
  • What are the risks from asbestos?

    Asbestos can be harmful if dust containing the fibre is inhaled.

    The risk from asbestos where the fibres are still intact (such as in asbestos cement) is significantly reduced. However, always treat all asbestos products with caution as potential sources of fibrous dust, and handle them carefully.

  • Where is asbestos found

    Asbestos has been used in the home in building materials and consumer goods, particularly to resist heat and to give fire protection.

    Common uses in the past are as:

    • Insulation lagging in buildings and factories, on pipework and for boilers and ducts
    • Asbestos insulating boards, such as Asbestolux and Marinite, were used as wall partitions, fire doors, ceiling tiles, etc
    • Asbestos cement products such as sheeting on walls and roofs, tiles, cold water tanks, gutters, pipes and in decorative plaster finishes
    • A spray coating on steelwork, concrete walls and ceilings, for fire protection and insulation

    Asbestos material can be inadvertently disturbed during maintenance, repair or refurbishment work on a building. Drilling, cutting or other disturbance of existing asbestos materials can release asbestos fibres into the air. Asbestos products should always be handled carefully.

  • What do you do if find asbestos?

    If you think you have come across asbestos in your home or office and you're unsure about whether the material contains asbestos, don't take any chances. Seek expert advice from asbestos monitoring/surveying companies.

    A specialist contractor should be engaged to carry out work on asbestos products or to demolish asbestos products, particularly those that are worn or damaged.

    In the case of asbestos products where the fibres are tightly bound (for example, in asbestos cement roofs), and the material is in good condition, specialist asbestos removal contractors may not always be necessary.

    Always take precautions, and contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for advice:

    Health and Safety Authority,
    The Metropolitan Building,
    James Joyce Street,
    Dublin 1.
    Tel. (01) 6147020 or 1890289389
    Fax. (01) 6147020.

    Queries concerning working with asbestos should be directed to
    Occupational Hygiene Unit,
    HSA, Dublin 1.
    Tel: (01) 614 7000.

  • Disposing of asbestos waste

    Asbestos waste is hazardous and must be disposed of properly. Before any demolition work, identify which waste facility is licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for disposal of asbestos waste.

    Hazardous waste transfer stations can accept asbestos waste and then arrange to have it disposed of at an appropriate facility here or abroad.

FAQs on air

A collection of frequently asked questions on air activities to assist you with your queries.

Popular FAQs

  • I have observed a contractor spraying pesticides in a public area not taking any safety precautions to protect the public - who to contact

    You will need to contact the Pesticide Registration & Control Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine for advice on this matter.

    Further information is available here: http://www.pcs.agriculture.gov.ie/sud/professionaluserssprayeroperators/

  • How and why we monitor dioxins in Ireland?

    Direct measurement for dioxins in ambient air is extremely difficult and no limits have been set in the EU CAFE Directive. The most appropriate method for assessing dioxin exposure in the air is to sample Dioxin levels in cows’ milk samples taken during the grazing season. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has carried out a number of such surveys, at almost identical locations in the form of separate reports. These can be used as indicators for the actual average local dioxin exposure by atmospheric deposition. Studies/surveys have been carried out since 1995. The main source of dioxins is the illegal burning of waste. Maximum levels for dioxins, dioxin‐like PCBs and non‐dioxin‐like PCBs in foodstuffs including milk, are governed by Regulation, EU 1259/2011. The results of the surveys are reported in the annual air quality in Ireland reports on the air pages of www.epa.ie

  • Why is air quality important?

    Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution can increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 400,000 premature deaths are attributable to poor air quality in Europe annually. In Ireland, the number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution is estimated at 1,300 people (Air Quality in Europe 2020, EEA) and is mainly due to cardiovascular disease. The WHO has described air pollution as the ‘single biggest environmental health risk’.

  • What are the main pollutants of concern to the environment and human health?

    The ambient air quality pollutants of most concern on an EU-wide level are Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Particulate Matter (PM), Ozone (O3) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). They can impact on human health, ecosystems and vegetation and monitoring is carried out to determine their concentration levels.

  • When is the application of fertiliser (chemical, organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure) and farmyard manure) to land prohibited?

    The periods when the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited are specified in Schedule 4 of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014 as follows:

    1. In counties Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

    (a)  15 September to 12 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

    (b)  15 October to 12 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

    (c)   1 November to 12 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

    2.  In counties Clare, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

    (a)  15 September to 15 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

    (b)  15 October to 15 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

    (c)  1 November to 15 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

    3. In counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

    (a)  15 September to 31 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

    (b)  15 October to 31 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

    (c)  1 November to 31 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

FAQs on Article 11

in: Waste

Frequently asked questions about Article 11, a mechanism by which an applicant can request a determination from the EPA as regards the most appropriate waste authorisation ((i.e. Waste Licence, Waste Facility Permit or Certificate of Registration, or none as the case may be) for a proposed activity.

If a local authority receives an application and has doubts about the appropriate waste authorisation for a proposed activity, the local authority can also request a determination from the EPA, in which case the local authority should not consider an application they have received until they have been notified of the Article 11 determination by the EPA.

Popular FAQs

  • What type of authorisation is required in Ireland for ship recycling?

    For ship recycling which falls under the regulations, either a Waste Licence or an Industrial Emission Licence is a suitable designated authorisation. In the case of proposed recycling of waste ships of less than 500 gross tonnage, a Waste Facility Permit issued by a Local Authority is a suitable authorisation.

     

     

  • What regulations cover Article 11?

  • Could a landfill at a licensed site fall under class 11.1 instead of 11.5?

    A landfill that is covered by the IED will be licensed as class 11.5.  For a landfill to be class 11.1, it must be the following:

    • not a landfill subject to the IED; and
    • connected or associated with an IED activity.

    Further guidance will issue on how to decide if a landfill is covered by the IED.

  • When does Class 11.1 apply / not apply?

    A Class 11.1 activity must have a connection or association with another activity at the same licenced site and can only be an ‘additional’ class of activity.

    Class 11.1 is not an IED class of activity.  Class 11.1 will generally only be applicable where there are non-IED classes of activity being carried on at a facility in addition to IED classes of activity.  Class 11.1 can be associated with any other IED activity, and not just other class 11 waste activities.  It is therefore not the case that Class 11.1 can be the only class applying to your activity.

    Class 11.1 is the 'recovery or disposal of waste in a facility, within the meaning of the Act of 1996, which facility is connected or associated with another activity specified in this Schedule in respect of which a licence or revised licence under Part IV is in force or in respect of which a licence under the said Part is or will be required'.

  • Is there always a corresponding class of activity under the Industrial Emissions Directive for activities under the Waste Management Act?

    The Industrial Emissions Directive has introduced a new type of licensing.  Whereas in the past we had waste licences under the Waste Management Act as amended and IPPC licences under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 as amended we now have a third type of licence - the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) licence.  Under the IED there is a new set of capacity thresholds (perhaps daily or annual capacity thresholds) which bring activities under the control of the IED and the thresholds may depend on the intended destination of the waste.  For example the composting of waste now has an associated threshold of 50 tonnes per day (Class 11.4(a)(i)) if the waste is destined for disposal but if the waste is intended for recovery, or a mix of disposal and recovery, then the threshold is 75 tonnes per day (Class 11.4(b)(i)).

    Clearly then you will not find a direct correlation between classes of activity under IED and classes of activity under the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended.

A collection of frequently asked questions on EPA corporate activities to assist you with your queries.

Popular FAQs

  • What entitlement do I have to access information from the EPA?

    The EPA is committed to a policy of openness and transparency. All monitoring results and environmental quality information is available for access by the public on our website.  Information related to EPA licensing is also available to the public from our website or can be inspected in our offices.  Copies of the information will also be provided but there may be a charge.  Most information generated by the EPA is made publicly available through published reports.   For further information, please see our pages on Access to Information on our website. 

  • Does the EPA provide funding to PhD students?

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does provide funding in support of Doctoral Scholarships. All research funding provided by the EPA, including that for doctoral scholarships, is awarded in response to calls for proposals issued by EPA STRIVE Programme. Calls for Doctoral scholarships are usually issued in March every year. Doctoral Scholarship proposals are normally submitted by College supervisors who if successful in their application then recruit a student to undertake the research. Any call for proposals will be advertised in the Research section of the EPA website and a notification will be sent to all 3rd level research offices.

FAQs on drinking water

A collection of frequently asked questions on drinking water to assist you with your queries.

View full details on drinking water

Popular FAQs

  • My home heating oil or fuel storage tank is near my well, should I be worried?

    If the tank is within 30 m of your well you should make sure any spills or leakages from the tank into the well or the surrounding soils will be contained.  To do this you should have a properly constructed bund around the tank.  If you notice you have to refill your tank more frequently than normal this may indicate there is a leak in the tank or pipework.  This should be investigated as soon as possible. If you become aware of a spillage you should report this to your local authority and arrange for your well to be tested.

  • Where can I get information on drinking water quality standards?

    You can get information on the current drinking water quality standards from the most recent EPA reports on The Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland.

  • Where can I get information on health?

    For information on your or your familieis health contact your local HSE Environmental Health Officer. The HSE has published information on the risk of illness from well water, E Coli (VTEC) and cryptosporidiosis.  The HSE cautions against switching from public water supplies to existing priavte wells.

  • My water smells sometimes, what is causing this and should I be concerned?

    There are several types of possible smells from your well, all with different causes.  The most common types of odour are rotten eggs (from sulphur reducing bacteria), mustiness, sewage/slurry, hydrocarbons (i.e. petrol, diesel or kerosene) and chlorine (if the well has been disinfected).  Some of these odours may indicate a risk to your health and you should arrange for your well to be tested.  You should boil the water if you suspect contamination with infectious organisms (bacteria / bugs/germs).  You should advice the laboratory of the odour you detect in the water when getting it tested.

    Some contaminants such as E. coli may not cause your water to smell.   Even if there is no odour it is advisable to get your well tested at least once per year (ideally during poor weather conditions to rule out breakthrough contamination when the supply would be more vulnerable).

  • How far away should landspreading be from my well?

    Landspreading of organic or soiled water (e.g. slurry) is not permitted within 25 m of a private well/spring.  Furthermore, areas for the storage of farmyard manure, slatted sheds, slurry storage and silage clamps should be at least 50 m from a private well. The farmyard itself should be 15 m from the private well/spring.

    The Householder Information on Private Wells section of our website has detailed information and useful guidance, including frequently asked questions, in relation to protecting, testing, treating and maintaining your private well.

FAQs on EDEN

in: EDEN

A list of frequently asked questions about how to register, administration activities and other queries on the EDEN portal.

Popular FAQs

  • How do I report complaints through EDEN?

    Most licenses don't require reporting to the EPA of each complaint received directly at the facility, but instead require a summary of complaints to be included as part of general licence reporting (e.g. quarterly or annual reports (AER)).  So for this reason there is no facility for you to directly report a complaint through the Manage Complaints button in EDEN.

    If your licence specifically requires you to report these complaints or if your inspector has told you to do this, you can send complaints in under "Make a Return" button, Document Type "Site Update/Notification", Subtype "other".  You may need to check with your inspector to clarify the requirement.

  • Can I search/filter by date/year?

    Currently filtering and reporting functionality is limited in "Manage my Licence" on the EDEN portal. 

  • How do I update an existing incident notification (an incident that I have already logged on AM on EDEN)?

    It is important that updates to previously logged incident notifications are done by going back to the original incident notification record and not by creating a new incident record. To do this you should navigate to “Manage Incidents” on Licence page in AM, select the incident record that you want to update and click on “Edit Incident” icon. You will then be presented with a web form to amend or add details to the incident notification. If the particular piece of information that you want to update is not available to on the web form, please use the notes section to enter the details of the update. Files can also be uploaded as part of the incident update.

  • How do I reply to a Request for Information (RFI)?

    RFIs must be replied to by navigating to the original Licensee Return or Complaint record in AM on EDEN. This can be done by going to the “Manage my Licensee Returns” or “Manage Complaints” tab on the licence page in AM opening the relevant record and clicking on the RFI. Alternatively you can go directly to the RFI in the “My Notifications” tab on AM. Replies to RFIs will not be accepted as Licensee Returns.

  • I want to submit a quarterly monitoring report. Do I have to break it down into separate Returns by emission receptor (eg air, water, sewer etc)?

    Yes, monitoring reports need to be broken out into their constituent sections and submitted individually as Licensee Returns. A summary of each set of results reported should be given as part of the return. Failure to do this will result in the Returns being rejected by the EPA.

Frequently asked questions about environmental assessment.

View the full details on Environmental assessment.

 

 

Popular FAQs

  • What is the difference between EIA and EIS?

    Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process for anticipating the effects on the environment caused by a proposed development or project at a particular site.  Where effects are unacceptable, design or other measures can be taken to avoid or reduce these to acceptable levels.  The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document produced in the course of this process.  The EIS is assessed by the regulatory authorities.

     

FAQs on climate change

in: Climate Change

Frequently asked questions about Climate Change

Popular FAQs

  • Who do I contact to report cutting/burning/destruction of hedgerows during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife?

    In Ireland, hedgerows are of exceptional importance as habitats, particularly for birds but also for wildflowers, shrubs and trees and provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife and enhance the diversity of nature in our countryside.

    Cutting, burning, or destruction of hedgerows is restricted during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife between the 1st March and the 31st August except for certain exemptions (Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Heritage Act 2018) These restrictions apply to private land-users, local authorities, public bodies and contractors.

    You can report details of unlawful cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction to the local Conservation Rangers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Reported instances will, as far as practicable, be investigated. Your local NPWS Office can be found through the NPWS website.

  • How is Ireland adapting to Climate Change?

    Planning for a Climate Resilient Ireland, Ireland's first statutory National Adaptation Framework (NAF) was approved in 2018. The NAF sets out the national strategy to reduce the vulnerability of the country to the negative effects of climate change and to avail of any positive impacts. The NAF was developed under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and prepared in the context of the 2013 EU strategy on adaptation to climate change.  

    The NAF builds on the work already carried out under the 2012 National Change Adaptation Framework (NCCAF). The NAF outlines a whole of government and society approach to climate adaptation in Ireland. Under the NAF a number of Government Departments are required to prepare sectoral adaptation plans in relation to a priority area that they are responsible for. Local authorities are required to prepare local adaptation strategies. The NAF will be reviewed at least once every five years. The NAF also aims to improve the enabling environment for adaptation through ongoing engagement with civil society, the private sector and the research community. 

    The 12 priority sectors and all local authorities now have climate change adaptation plans and strategies in place. These were published in 2019 and will be reviewed at least once every five years. 

    Further Information

    For more on national, sectoral and local adaptation see the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

    For more adaptation information and climate data see Ireland’s climate information platform, Climate Ireland.  

  • What impacts of climate change have been observed and what is projected?

    In 2018, the global temperature had been increased by 1.0°C relative to pre-industrial levels. At the current rate of warming, the world is expected to reach 1.5°C warming between 2030 and 2052 (IPCC, 2008).  If this continues, the 2°C increase could occur around 2060.  Globally the two main features of climate change are: 

    • changes in the rate of occurrence and scales of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves or rainfall events, and  
    • slow onset changes such as sea-level rise, loss of glaciers, and ecosystem changes. 

    For Ireland, by 2050 (mid-century) mean annual temperatures are projected to increase by between 1 and 1.2, and between 1.3 and 1.6 depending on the emissions trajectory. Heatwave events are expected to increase by mid-century and this will have a direct impact on public health and mortality. These changes may affect the life cycle (phenological) phases in many plant and animal species. By mid-century there are projected increases in both dry periods and heavy precipitation events, meaning we will have to consider increased flood risk as well as droughts. There is also the possibility that, although average wind speed may decrease, the intensity of individual storms may increase.  

    Building performance will be challenged by a changing climate, needing to cope with more extreme summer temperatures, intense rainfall events and potential changes in wind and storm patterns. This will require appropriate design and building standards, but also adaptation of existing building stock.  

    As our climate changes, it will create new conditions that may allow existing pests and diseases to spread and new threats to become established in Ireland. Our infrastructure systems are likely to be impacted by an increase in disruptive events and our water quality and supply might be affected.  

    Global mean sea level rise by 2100 is likely to be in the range of 0.29m to 1.10m (depending on the emissions scenario) and sea levels will continue to rise far beyond the year 2100.   

    Predicted changes in mean sea level will be magnified by changing storm surge and wave patterns in coastal areas. Sea level rise varies regionally but increasing sea levels around Ireland would result in increased coastal erosion, flooding and damage to property and infrastructure.  High-resolution mid-century climate projections for Ireland were published by the EPA in 2020 and are available at Climate Ireland.

     
     

  • What is the greenhouse effect?

    The greenhouse effect is the name given to the process whereby the energy which has arrived from the Sun can warm the planet to temperatures well above those which would be expected if there was no atmosphere present. A very simplified explanation of how this works is as follows:

    The Sun’s energy is either reflected back into space or passes through the atmosphere to be absorbed at the surface of the Earth. The absorbed energy warms the surface, producing thermal radiation, heating the atmosphere from below.   On its way back to space, the thermal energy is captured by certain gases in the atmosphere, and this heats the atmosphere further. These gases are called greenhouse gases. This simple explanation is illustrated in the image below.

    This figures dsiplays the greenhouse gas effect whereby radiation from the sun is trapped in the earth's atmosphere by greenhouse gases.

     Greenhouse gases (ghg), although they constitute only a small fraction of the atmosphere, their impact on climate is very important. Without greenhouse gases, the Earth’s surface would have an average temperature of -18oC, too cold for life as we know it. Instead the average temperature at the surface of the Earth is approximately +15oC.  Changing the atmospheric concentration of these greenhouse gases and other particles in the atmosphere can lead to a warming or cooling of the climate system. 

    The IPCC provides the detailed explanation of the Greenhouse Effect.

    For more information on this topic, see Chapter 2: Observations: Atmosphere and Surface, of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, Working Group 1, The Physical Science Basis (2013)

  • Is the EPA responsible for wildlife and protecting natural habitats?

    The EPA is responsible for reporting on nature conservation in its 'State of the Environment' reports.  However, responsibility for nature conservation lies with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

    The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) is part of the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government and is charged with the conservation of a range of habitats and species in Ireland. Some of its most important activities include:

    Designation and protection of Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) & Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and,

    Managing and developing our National Parks and Nature Reserves.

     For further information please go to the National Parks and Wildlife Service website.

FAQs on greenhouse gas (GHG)

in: Climate Change

Ireland's GHG emissions inventory

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol provide the basis for international action to address climate change. The objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human-induced interference with the climate system. The ability of the international community to achieve this objective is dependent on an accurate knowledge of emissions trends, and on our collective ability to alter these trends. Reliable GHG inventories are essential, both at national and international level. Parties to the convention and its Kyoto Protocol are committed to developing and publishing the national emission inventories of GHGs which is a key element of assessing progress towards meeting commitments and targets.

The EPA has overall responsibility for the national greenhouse gas inventory in Ireland's national system and compiles Ireland's national greenhouse gas emission inventory on an annual basis. 

Emissions data for the following gases is reported on an annual basis: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perflurocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). 

Ireland's GHG emissions projections

The National Climate Change Strategy (2007) designated the EPA with responsibility for developing national emission projections for greenhouse gases for all key sectors of the economy. Emission projections serve to inform national policy initiatives and allow Ireland to comply with EU and UN reporting obligations on emissions projections. The EPA produces national greenhouse gas emission projections on an annual basis.

Back to Greenhouse Gas Home 

Popular FAQs

  • How can I cite these maps?

    If you publish a news article, visualization, blog post, or other publication using these maps, please include the link to the Irish Environmental Protection Agency maps page and attribution to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the Irish EPA.

  • Do these maps reflect changes in opinions due to recent extreme weather events like Storm Ophelia/Storm Barra?

    Perhaps. The maps may reflect the impacts that specific extreme weather events had on public opinion in a given geographic unit. If public opinion in a particular area has been influenced by local events it is possible that the model would detect such an influence. However, data from specific events or types of events are not explicitly built into the model as predictor variables.

  • Do the maps account for differences in population density across the country?

    The type of map used in this tool is called a choropleth map, which means the colours on the maps reflect the percentage of the population in a given geographic unit who would answer each question as indicated. These kinds of maps are used to represent everything from election results to census and economic data (e.g., per capita income or unemployment rates). Thus, it is important to keep in mind that some geographic areas may be large, but have few residents (e.g., Mayo), while other geographic areas may be small, but have many residents (e.g., Dublin). For reference, The Central Statistics Office has published the relevant population density information.

  • What does the grey colour mean on some of the bars beneath the maps?

    The grey area reflects people who provided valid responses such as refusal to answer a question, saying they “Don’t know,” or gave an answer that was not modeled (e.g., “Currently doing the right amount”). We do not provide specific values for the grey areas because we did not develop estimates for these particular responses.

  • Where do the survey data underlying the estimates come from?

    The data underlying the maps come from a large national survey dataset (4,000 respondents) collected during May through July of 2021 as part of a collaboration between the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) and the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Reports using the individual-level survey data are available here:

     

FAQs on industrial and waste compliance

in: Licensees

Frequently asked questions about compliance.

The National Priority Sites system allows the EPA to identify which industrial and waste licensed sites should be prioritised for enforcement based on their environmental performance.

The list is used to target the EPA’s enforcement effort at the poorest performing sites in order to drive improvements in environmental compliance.

 

Popular FAQs

  • How can a site get off the National Priority Sites List?

    A National Priority Site must address the environmental issues and restore compliance in order to reduce its score.

  • What happens to a site that is on the National Priority List?

    The EPA is using the National Priority Sites to focus its enforcement effort at the worst performing sites.  Sites that appear on the list are subject to an escalation of enforcement action by the EPA, up to and including legal action, suspension or revocation. 

  • How does a licensed site know their score?

    Licensed sites are informed in writing when they are on the National Priority Site List.

    All licensed sites can calculate their score based on the compliance information available to them.

  • What time period is used to compile the score?

    The National Priority Sites List is produced by the EPA on a quarterly basis based on data for the previous 6 months. 

  • What score does a National Priority Site have to achieve?

    A site becomes a National Priority Site when it has a total score of more than 30 points and a CI score of 10 points or more.

FAQs on Medium Combustion Plant

in: Air

The Medium Combustion Plant Regulations were signed into law in December 2017. Their purpose is to limit emissions to atmosphere from boilers and other stationary combustion plants in the 1-50 MWth (thermal input) range. It covers all fuel types. The Regulations transpose the Medium Combustion Plant (MCP) Directive ((EU) 2015/2193) which was adopted in 2015.

The regulations limit the level of emissions allowable from new combustion plants from 20th December 2018, while operators of existing MCPs will have longer to comply with stricter emission standards. This will assist in limiting the impact on human health, vegetation and biodiversity which can be caused by air pollution. 

Popular FAQs

  • Where do I go with additional queries?

    Please send any additional queries to licensing@epa.ie using the subject heading ‘Medium Combustion Plant’.

  • What are the EPA requirements for monitoring emissions from MCP?

    Monitoring of emissions to atmosphere

    The European Union (Medium Combustion Plants) Regulations 2017 require that periodic monitoring of emissions to atmosphere from medium combustion plants is carried out. Air emissions sampling and analysis is a particularly difficult aspect of environmental monitoring, and specialist equipment is required to be used. Both the sampling and analysis stages of air emissions monitoring require a high level of competency and quality control. Most MCP facilities will not carry out their own air emissions monitoring, but will instead employ a specialist contractor to carry out the monitoring and provide a report, which can be submitted to the EPA. The EPA generally supports the approach of using external specialist service providers, and would not recommend that facilities attempt to carry out their own air emissions monitoring.

    In order to ensure the generation of consistent, high quality and robust monitoring data from MCP facilities, it is a mandatory requirement that all air emissions monitoring carried out is performed by an ISO 17025 accredited air monitoring contractor. Accredited air emission monitoring contractors operating in Ireland either receive their accreditation from the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB), or else they operate under the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

    The details of the INAB ISO 17025 accredited air emissions monitoring contractors are as follows:

    The Irish-based contractors who hold UKAS ISO17025 accreditation for air emissions monitoring are as follows:

    You must ensure that the air monitoring contractor you intend to use for EPA compliance monitoring holds ISO17025 accreditation. The EPA will not accept monitoring results from a monitoring contractor, who does not hold accreditation to the ISO17025 standard.

  • What do MCP operators need to do now?

    Anyone operating or planning to operate an MCP should ensure that they understand the obligations of the Regulations, in particular, the applicable ELVs. Pay attention to the associated footnotes, and the various exemptions and derogations that may be applicable.

    Operators planning to buy or install new MCP should ensure that new plants are specified to meet the ‘new plant’ ELVs set out in Schedule 2 Part 2 of the Regulations.

    Operators of existing MCPs should monitor SO2, NOx, dust and CO emissions to determine whether specific measures will be required to achieve compliance. These operators have until January 2025 (5- 50 MWth) or January 2030 (1 – 5 MWth) to achieve compliance.

  • Are there any other exemptions or derogations?

    There is a range of exemptions, derogations, and variations from the default limit values, which are set out in Regulations 11, 12 and 13, and in the footnotes in Schedule 2.

  • What about emergency generators?

    The regulations make special provision for MCP such as emergency generators, which operate intermittently or rarely. Where these MCP operate less than 500 hours per year (as a rolling average over 5 years), they are exempt from some of the specified ELVs but there is still a requirement [Schedule 3, Part 1] to measure carbon monoxide. Where necessary, for environmental protection, the regulations allow the EPA to reduce this number of hours in specific circumstances for specific plant (similar to the provisions for reducing ELVs). [See Regulations 13(1), 13(3) and 20(4)(c)].

FAQs on monitoring & assessment

in: Freshwater and Marine Freshwater and Marine

A collection of frequently asked questions about monitoring and assessment to assist you with your queries.

popular FAQs about freshwater & marine

  • Microplastics - do they have an impact on water quality?

    Microplastics are a newly identified contaminant in water sources, including drinking water sources, across the world. Microplastics are very tiny (<5 mm) pieces of plastic which can come from a variety of different materials.

    As microplastics are an emerging water quality issue, the impact of them on people’s health has not yet been fully assessed and determined.  There is currently no water quality standard for microplastics in the Drinking Water Regulations. However, the EPA is keeping a close eye on European and Irish research in this area, and there may be a standard set in the future.

  • To whom do I report pollution such as: fish kill; forest fire; oil spillage?

    Pollution incidents should be reported in the first instance to the local authority in whose area the incident occurred as they can respond rapidly. The Local Authority will contact the Environmental Protection Agency if an EPA licensed activity is concerned.  If you know it is an EPA licensed activity you should contact us directly as well as the Local Authority.  Use the following link to obtain full details about how to Make an Environmental Complaint

  • Can the EPA stop farmers discharging pollution into rivers?

    This is primarily a matter for the relevant Local Authority, under the Water Pollution Act 1977. If, however, the Local Authority is not fulfilling its function, a complaint can be made to the EPA who will take up the matter with the relevant Local Authority to ensure pollution is not taking place.

  • Where can I find information on water quality at my local beach?

    Before you visit the beach this summer with your family or friends, check External linkwww.beaches.ie or our Twitter feed @EPABeaches, for information on current water quality and details of any incidents affecting bathing waters. When you get to the beach always check the local notice board to ensure the water quality is good before getting into the water for a swim.

FAQs about noise

in: Noise

Environmental noise is 'unwanted sound' arising from all areas of human activity such as noise from transport, industrial and recreational activities. Excessive noise can:

  • seriously harm human health, including mental health
  • interfere with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home & during leisure time
  • disrupt sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects
  • lower performance, lead to annoyance responses and changes in social behaviour

Popular FAQs

  • What is environmental noise?

    Environmental noise is 'unwanted sound' arising from all areas of human activity such as noise from transport, industrial and recreational activities. Excessive noise can:

    • seriously harm human health, including mental health
    • interfere with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home & during leisure time
    • disrupt sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects
    • lower performance, lead to annoyance responses and changes in social behaviour

    In Ireland, we would normally consider noise complaints under four main categories:

    • entertainment
    • domestic/neighbourhood noise
    • industrial/commercial activities
    • transport-related noise
  • What can I do about noise arising from public events?

    Any event such as a concert or festival would normally require planning permission. However, in some cases, a particular venue may have prior approval to stage a set number of concerts/events per annum.  The appropriate local authority (city/county council) should be contacted in relation to any planning conditions relating to noise for these once-off events

  • My neighbour's dog is barking, what can I do?

    Initially, it may be sufficient to explain to the dog owner causing the noise that it's a nuisance and come to some mutually acceptable understanding.

    However, persistent problems arising from barking dogs are covered under the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 & 1992.  A copy of the Form used for complaints to the Courts about noise from dogs is available from your local authority (city/council).

  • What can I do about a noise nuisance?

    There are a number of steps open to you under the law when you are experiencing a nuisance caused by noise. The procedures detailed below are designed to cover general neighbourhood type noise problems, such as continual noise from other houses home workshops, local businesses etc. The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No.179 of 1994) provide redress in the case of these types of problems. They are designed to allow straightforward access to the Courts by individuals or groups concerned about excessive noise.

    When can I take action to deal with noise as a nuisance?

    Whenever you consider noise to be so loud, so continuous, so repeated or of such duration or pitch, or occurring at such times that it gives you reasonable cause for annoyance you can initiate action to deal with it.

    What action can I take?

    Initially, it may be sufficient to explain to whoever is causing the noise that it is a nuisance and come to some mutually acceptable understanding. If this does not resolve the matter you will need to take the following steps:

    • contact your local authority for assistance on general neighbourhood noise, as detailed above. Noise compaints about privately rented accommodation should be directed to the landlord and the relevant city/county council in the case of local authority housing.
    • contact the EPA if you want to make a complaint about an EPA licenced activity.
    • you may exercise your right to make a formal complaint to the District Court seeking an Order to deal with the nuisance. Forms are available from the District Court office.

FAQs about radiation

in: Radiation

The Irish population is exposed to radiation from several sources, which are present either naturally in the environment or have been produced artificially by man.

Popular FAQs

  • What is radiation?

    Radiation is energy that is transmitted in the form of waves or particles. Scientists divide radiation into two broad categories –ionising radiation, and non-ionising radiation. 

    Ionising radiation is a proven hazard because it has enough energy to break apart molecules such as DNA which may, in time, lead to cancer. Non-ionising radiation does not have enough energy to cause such damage. 

  • Where are we likely to come across ionising radiation?

    We encounter ionising radiation constantly.  It occurs naturally in rocks and soil, in the food and water we eat and drink, and bombards the earth’s atmosphere from outer space.  It is produced artificially, and widely used in medicine, industry and research.  It is used in X-rays, in radiotherapy to treat cancers, in smoke detectors, and in many industrial processes.  The production of electricity from nuclear power generates ionising radiation as a by-product.

  • Where do we come across non-ionising radiation?

    Non-ionising radiation is generated by everyday energy sources, including light, heat, TV and radio signals, mobile phone signals, microwaves, and electro-magnetic fields associated with power lines.  The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications are currently responsible for the health effects of non-ionising radiation including electromagnetic fields. 

  • Can ionising radiation be avoided?

    Ionising radiation has been with us since the birth of the universe.  Even if we could avoid artificially created radiation, we would still be exposed continuously to natural sources of ionising radiation.  Because it is present in the soil, we consume it in our food and water.  One type of natural radionuclide is radon gas that rises up from the ground  and we inhale it from the air when we breathe. We cannot avoid exposure to ionising radiation – but we can minimise our exposure to excessive dose from it. 

  • How does ionising radiation affect the human body?

    Ionising radiation transfers some of its energy to the atoms and molecules of the body, liberating electrons and so breaking molecular bonds. The effects of ionising radiation on the human body depend on the quantities of ionising radiation received. 

    High doses  destroy human cells at a faster rate than they can be replaced by natural regeneration in the body. This is called necrosis and can cause radiation sickness leading to serious illness and death, but it can also be applied to small volumes in the body to kill diseased cells such as cancers. Radiation sickness has been observed in workers exposed by accident to industrial sources, and people who spent time close to the site of nuclear accidents, such as the fire-fighters in the Chernobyl accident - Low doses above background levels increase the risk of cancer. The chemical changes caused by ionisation damage tissues, which do not always repair themselves properly. In time, poorly repaired tissue may become cancerous. For most people, estimating increased risk of cancer from radioactivity is difficult to distinguish from other sources of risk such as chemical pollution. 

    Where people are known to have been exposed to greater levels of radioactivity, their history of exposure may be used to estimate the increased risk cancer decades later. This has been applied to accident survivors, historic nuclear workers, and people exposed to elevated levels of radon either in their workplaces or homes 

FAQs on regulatory charges

in: Radiation

Frequently asked questions about regulatory charges

Popular FAQs

  • What is the cost of registration?

    The cost of registration is a once off fee of €300. 
    In the case of undertakings carrying out registerable dental radiology practices at multiple premises, a separate fee of €75 will apply for each premise. 
    Registrations are issued on an indefinite basis and do not need to be renewed. 

  • What happens when an undertaking is sold or transferred?

    If an undertaking is sold or transferred, the new owner must apply for a registration or licence as appropriate in his or her own name as authorisations are non-transferable. 

  • How are enforcement fees calculated?

    Enforcement fees are calculated annually to allow the EPA to recover the full economic cost of its ongoing regulatory activity from the licensed community.  This is a two-step calculation as follows: 
    Step 1: Operating costs are reviewed based on the EPA’s most recent set of audited accounts. 
    Step 2: Each licensee is assigned to a risk category depending on the full range of radiological practices carried out.  Enforcement fees are then calculated for each risk category so that the fees are proportionate to the regulatory effort associated with the category and overall cost recovery is achieved. 

  • What is an enforcement fee?

    Enforcement fees are set annually and are intended to cover the ongoing cost of regulation (inspection, reviews, guidance, enforcement, advice, etc.).  Only licensees will be charged enforcement fees.  You can find a list of enforcement fees per licence category here.  

  • What is the cost of a licence?

    The cost of a licence depends on the risk associated with the radiological practice(s).  A separate fee applies to each radiological practice for which authorisation is being sought.  You can find a list of authorisation fees per practice here. 

FAQs on research

in: Grant Application System

A collection of frequently asked questions about EPA research to assist you with your queries.

View the full details on Research.

 

 

Popular FAQs

  • I can't find my organisation on the portal, what do I do?

    If your organisation has made an application previously, it should appear when you start typing in the ‘Organisation Name’ box.

    If not, clear your internet history and refresh your application. If the problem still persists try moving to a different browser. 

    If your organisation is not registered on our system you will need to submit a registration request – click on the Applicants Register Here button on the portal login page.

    Before registering please refer to the User Registration Guide and the instructions at the top of the registration page.

     

  • Where can I find guidance on using the portal?

    Guidance on using the EPA's Grant Management and Application portal can be found on the Grants Management page of the EPA Website, or accessed when logged into the portal.

  • Invalid username or password

    If you have attempted to login several times using incorrect login details you will be temporarily locked out of the system - please wait at least 10 minutes before trying again. If invalid username or password messages continue to appear on the screen, before attempting to login again please:

    • Clear your internet cache/history, including saved passwords, auto form-fill data and cookies (WARNING: this action will clear all saved passwords and cookies, including those for other sites)
    • Re-enable pop-ups from the site https://epa.smartsimple.ie
    • Allow cookies for this site (if prompted)
    • Request a password reset
    • Ensure you are using a password which corresponds to the username you are trying to log in with (your username is your email address)
    • Ensure you are using the latest password reset issued by email – the emails are issued instantly however depending on your incoming mail server settings they may take a few minutes to arrive. Each time you request a password reset it over-writes the previous password therefore please allow time for the latest email to arrive.
  • Invalid session message or frequent time-outs - I can't access the system.

    The system will automatically log you out after 60 minutes of inactivity. If you are experiencing invalid session messages, or are frequently being logged out of the system after less than 60 minutes of inactivity please follow these steps to try and resolve the issue:

    • Check you are using a stable internet connection and that your connection is active
    • Clear your internet cache/history, including saved passwords, auto form-fill data and cookies (IMPORTANT: this action will clear all saved passwords and cookies, including those for other sites)
    • Re-enable pop-ups from the site https://epa.smartsimple.ie
    • Allow cookies for this site (if prompted)
    • Contact your IT support unit and ask that they add the site to the safe list of sites which be accessed
    • Try connecting using a different network
    • Do not use the back and forward arrows on your internet browser to move between the pages and areas in the system - use the links and buttons provided on the interface

    If the above actions do not resolve the issue please contact your IT support team.

  • How can I access the portal?

    The EPA's Grant Management and Application Portal can be accessed by clicking on the following link: https://epa.smartsimple.ie/s_Login.jsp 

FAQs on waste

A collection of frequently asked questions about waste to assist you with your queries.

 

Popular FAQs

  • What regulations cover Article 11?

  • What does the IED specifically mean for Waste licensing?

    In relation to waste activities and of interest to waste licence applicants, the range of waste activities listed in the new First Schedule (class 11) has been expanded.

    There is going to be a major change in the way that these First Schedule waste activities (class 11) will be licensed by the Agency. The First Schedule waste activities will in future be licensed by the Agency under:

    • the EPA Act 1992 as amended; and 
    • the European Union (Industrial Emissions) (Licensing) Regulations 2013

    and not, as has been the case to date, under: 

    • the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended; and 
    • the Waste Management (Licensing) Regulations 2004.
  • Who should I contact regarding the disposal of asbestos?

    What is asbestos?  Asbestos is a natural fibrous material.  There were three types of asbestos commonly used.  These are blue asbestos (crocidolite) brown asbestos (amosite) and white asbestos (chrysotile). 

    Why was it used?   Asbestos was used because it is resistant to heat and chemicals and is strong yet flexible.  It was therefore widely used as a building and insulation material.  Asbestos is no longer used and therefore only items, which have been in place for, or was purchased before 1980, may contain asbestos.  If you are in doubt as to whether an item contains asbestos treat it with care and seek expert advice to identify it.

    What are the risks?  The only risk from asbestos when damaged or if drilled or sawed etc.  It is at this point when fibres are released into the air.  Due to its fibrous nature, it can be breathed in and penetrate deep into the lungs.  This can lead to asbestosis, and possibly lung cancer.  The general rule is that if you have asbestos and it is not damaged, it is safest to leave it in place.  The risk to health from undamaged asbestos is very low.

    Where is Asbestos found?  Asbestos may be found in the following areas around the home:

    • Roofing felts, tiles and corrugated sheets
    • Roof and wall claddings
    • Pipe lagging
    • Flue pipes/gutters/rainwater downpipes/airbricks
    • Window boxes
    • Coldwater cisterns
    • Roof slates and linings
    • Thermoplastic and vinyl floor tiles
    • Storage, catalytic and (LPG) portable heaters
    • Airing cupboard linings and shelving
    • Ironing boards
    • Insulation
    • Filler ropes surrounding oven doors
    • Textured paints

     

    One of the most common forms of asbestos found is corrugated sheeting – this is mainly used as roofing material for garages and sheds.  

    Relevant Information

    If you think you have come across asbestos in your home or office and you're unsure about whether the material contains asbestos, don't take any chances. Seek expert advice from asbestos monitoring/surveying companies, which are listed in the Classified Telephone Directory.

    A specialist contractor should be engaged to carry out work on asbestos products or to demolish asbestos products, particularly those that are worn or damaged.

    In the case of asbestos products where the fibres are tightly bound (for example, in asbestos cement roofs), and the material is in good condition, specialist asbestos removal contractors may not always be necessary. 

    Always take precautions, and contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for advice:

    Health and Safety Authority
    The Metropolitan Building,
    James Joyce Street
    Dublin 1
    Tel. (01) 6147020 or 1890289389
    Fax. (01) 6147020

    Further information can be found at:

    Health & Safety Authority

  • What are single-use plastic products?

    Single-use plastic products include a wide range of commonly used plastic items that are expected to be used just once, or for a short time, before being thrown away. They are rarely recycled and are prone to becoming litter. Single-use plastic products include: beverage containers and cups, lightweight plastic carrier bags, food containers, plastic cutlery and plates, plastic straws, beverage stirrers, packets and wrappers made from flexible material containing food intended for immediate consumption, cotton bud sticks, tobacco products with filters, wet wipes, balloons, sticks to support balloons and sanitary products.

  • What is a protected area or a designated site?

    You can get more information on protected areas/designated sites at the National Parks & Wildlife Service website http://www.npws.ie

FAQs on waste water

A collection of frequently asked questions about waste water

Popular FAQs

  • Who is responsible for the enforcement of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014?

    The Local Authorities (County Councils) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine are responsible for enforcement of the regulations and they undertake farm inspections to check compliance.  If Local Authorities find farmers contravening these Regulations, they must report them to the Cross Compliance Unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

    The Regulations are also part of the Cross Compliance requirements under the Single Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by agreement with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, has taken on responsibility for the undertaking of Cross Compliance inspections for the Single Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes. In addition, the Department carry out a proportion of farm inspections on behalf of Local Authorities.

    The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine can impose financial penalties for non-compliance.

  • What can I do if I have a high water table?

    The water table is the level of groundwater in the soil. Much of the treatment of the liquid effluent from septic tank systems takes place naturally in the soil, so the soil needs to be deep enough for this to happen before the liquid gets to the groundwater. A ‘high water table’ is one that is near the surface. This is checked during site suitability assessment by digging a hole with a digger. If the water table is high, there are some types of systems that are raised and/or do not require deep unsaturated soils.  Consult the Code of Practice for more details or seek advice from a qualified person.

  • How far must the septic tank system be from wells, rivers, neighbours etc.

    These requirements are set out in tables  6.2 and E2 in the Code of Practice.

    For septic tank systems and wells, the minimum requirement varies from 15-60m depending on whether the well is up, across or downgradient, the percolation value, soil type and depth.

  • How can I apply for the site suitability assessment training course?

    This course is run by the Water Services Training Group which is part of the Local Authority Services National Training Group.

  • Who can carry out site suitability assessments and install septic tank systems?

    The Code of Practice and Building Regulations guidance require that site assessment and the design, installation and commissioning of septic tank systems should be carried out and/or supervised by a suitably qualified person or persons. Specific qualifying criteria are not specified and there are no registration requirements, so it is not possible to provide a list.