Environmental Implementation Review 2022: Turning the tide through environmental
This report has been written by the staff of the Directorate-General for Environment, European Commission. Any comments are welcome to the following e-mail address: ENV-EIR@ec.europa.eu
In previous environmental implementation reviews (EIRs), the Commission identified four main challenges for Ireland’s implementation of EU environmental policy and law.
These challenges were:
– completing the Natura 2000 designation process for terrestrial and marine sites;
– further protecting raised and blanket bogs;
– maintaining the significant investments required for water treatment, given the urgent need to invest in water infrastructure;
– Improving access to justice in environmental matters
Water treatment continues to be a concern. There is a low compliance rate with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive due to the large number of non-compliant agglomerations, in particular further efforts are needed to provide biological treatment to additional 50.5% p.e of urban waste water, as well as biological treatment to remove nitrogen and/or phosphorusfrom a further 75.1% p.e. of urban waste water. Ireland has not yet resolved problems with its drinking water. The quality of Ireland’s bathing waters is below average.
The country’s new water pricing system requires monitoring to ensure that it works in practice. The powers to regulate water abstraction and hydromorphological controls are still not in place as the proper legal framework is still absent.
Access to justice
Delays in finalising the list of SSCIs, including for the habitat reefs, as well as poor progress in identifying, selecting and designating SPAs under the Birds Directive is of particular concern, given the very ambitious plans for developing renewables in offshore waters.
There are still concerns about the conservation of raised and blanket bogs SACs, which is still the subject of an infringement procedure. In recent years, Ireland has made significant progress by drawing up a national peatlands strategy and national raised-bog SAC management plan. . Moreover, there is a LIFE project that involves 12 raised-bog SACs and a LIFE Integrated Project for managing of 24 blanket-bog SACs in Ireland. In addition, a LIFE integrated project called ‘Peatlands and People’ is underway, which will significantly restore and rehabilitate peatlands in Ireland’s midlands, bringing together best practices, as well as monitor and analyse carbon storage in the peatlands. However, restoration work has still to be completed on many of the raised-bog SACs and started on most blanket-bBog SACs
Illegal turf cutting is still taking place in raised-bog SACs and Ireland has yet to make any progress in ensuring that turf cutting is carried out in these SACs in a way that is compatible with the conservation of this habitat. For designated blanket bog sites domestic turf cutting on any new banks may not be opened or commercial peat extraction may not be undertaken on these sites without the prior consent of the Minister or the relevant consent authorities. As part of those consenting processes the impact of the conservation objectives of the site should be assessed.
Ireland has significant conservation issues in SPAs and the wider landscape.
According to the Commission recommendations for Ireland’s CAP strategic plan, Ireland’s ammonia emissions from agriculture pose a significant risk. These make up 99% of the country’s total ammonia emissions – the highest proportion in the EU – and have been climbing since 2011.
In Ireland, of the 93 Seveso establishments, 44 are categorised as lower-tier establishments (LTEs) and 49 as upper-tier establishments (UTEs) – based on the quantity of hazardous substances likely to be present in them. The UTEs are subject to more stringent requirements.
Drawing up EEPs is essential to allow for the necessary actions to be prepared properly and implemented effectively to protect the environment and the population should a major industrial accident ever happen.
Ireland has some issues with the transposition of the Seveso III Directive which are subject to an infringement case.
2022 priority actions
– Strengthen control and enforcement to ensure compliance with Seveso-III Directive provisions, especially on EEPs.
– Sign and ratify the TEIA convention
Industrial vs organic pollutants
Abstraction and hydromorphology