FOI: Forest-based climate mitigation targets included in Ireland’s Nationally Determined Contributions

Decision Letter FOI Request Ref. 2021163

15 November 2021

I refer to your request dated 14 October 2021 made under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, which was received on 18 October 2021, for records held by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. Your request was as follows:


Can you please provide, by email, all forest-based climate mitigation targets included in Ireland’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) submitted, at any time since 4 November 2016, to the UNFCCC Secretariat in relation to the Paris COP 21 climate agreement.

Clarification 18/10/2021

Yes – I confirm that I am seeking the information requested under S12 (1) (a) of FOI Act 2014

I have discussed these records with colleagues who are responsible for working in the area. They have advised me that there are no forestry-based targets included in Ireland’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). I have therefore – under section 15(1)(a) of the Act – made a final decision to refuse your request on 15 November 2021.


Section 15(1)(a) of the Act states that an FOI request may be refused if:
‘The record concerned does not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain its whereabouts have been taken’.


You may however be interested to know that Ireland’s NDC is also the EU’s NDC which provides for an overall emission reduction target. All NDCs are available on the UNFCCC’s NDC website here, with the first NDC submitted by the EU in 2016 here, and the updated NDC in 2020 here. Ireland contributed to both of these.


Rights of appeal
If you are unhappy with this decision, you may appeal it. In the event that you need to make such an appeal, you can do so by writing to the Freedom of Information Unit, Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment, Elm House, Earlsvale Road, Cavan, Co Cavan, H12 A8H7, Ireland, or by e-mail to foi.unit@decc.gov.ie.

Raheenleagh Power Designated Activity Company (DAC)

Source: Right to Know Newsletter

This was a joint venture between the ESB and Coillte to develop a wind farm in Co Wicklow though the ownership structure has since changed.

The case centres on whether Raheenleagh DAC is a “public authority” for the purposes of the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations.

In the original decision, the Commissioner for Environmental Information decided it was not and so did not have to deal with our request for records.

RTK appealed that to the High Court and in his decision, Justice Alexander Owens ruled in their favour, saying it was a public authority.

However, that was not the end of the matter and the case was back before the Court of Appeal mid-January with ESB still disputing that Raheenleagh DAC was a “public authority”.

Gavin Sheridan runs through some of the background to the case in this Twitter thread.

The case largely boils down to the definition of “public authority” and whether Raheenleagh DAC meets the criteria as set out in the Regulations.

It has wider implications of course with these types of joint ventures and designated activity companies becoming increasingly common with local authorities and commercial semi-states.

It raises significant questions over the reach of AIE, and indeed FOI, if public bodies can simply set up a spinoff operation and put them beyond the reach of information access laws.

EPA Land Evidence Review Group

FOI-0062-2021

This group took over from the group known as the National Land Cover and Habitat Mapping (NLCHM) Working Group. The FOI was to request details of their meetings and any related reports.

The first phase of the land use evidential review is due to be completed at the end of March 2022. The location of the finished documents is to be confirmed but it is anticipated they will be published on a public website (EPA, DECC or DAFM).

In the meantime, anyone interested in land cover and habitat mapping can see recent progress via this FOI. Plus I’ve pulled out a few notes on specific points of interest.

If you’re not interested in the general area of habitat mapping, but have a specific sector interest (e.g. peatland, forestry, agriculture, biodiversity) skip straight to the last excel document, as it’s a good summary listing of sector targets and when they are to be achieved by.

In particular, take a look at the document entitled “LAND-USE POLICY CATALOGUE: National policy assessment support to contribute to a land use evidence review” December 2021, by Minogue Environmental Consulting Ltd. & Environmental Protection Agency.

This review was undertaken in alignment with Action 165 of the EPA’s Interim Climate Change Actions 2021, under which a Phase 1 Evidential Review was to be delivered for Action 165b, “Carry out work programme agreed by Steering Group to prepare evidential review” pertaining to the existing state of policy for land-use in Ireland. The review attempts to improve knowledge and close existing data gaps pertaining to land-use in Ireland

Also note

CSO doesn’t have spatial data on land ownership. Land ownership is an important issue. Its important to link land ownership to land use in Ecosystems Services accounting.

Tailte Eireann is a merge of PRA, Land Registry and OSI. It will be formally established in January 2023. Land ownership data assessment issue raises GDPR considerations.

Discussions on adding OPW, Coillte and Bord na Mona to the Group

EPA is progressing a LULUCF regulation data reporting project gathering data to calculate emissions and removal of GHG from land

Signpost farms (110 best practice farms for carbon) will establish a baseline habitat map for these farms (including hedgerows). Linked to new scoring system for habitats on farms. Teagasc have also submitted a research paper for new methods for mapping paddocks.

CSO publishing on grassland and cropland from Corine data with preliminary indications of conditions. CSO are creating a survey on household attitudes concerning nature. CSO are producing a framework document with suggestions for national statistics on biodiversity. Acquiring a GIS statistician in the team. [Note: a lot of CSO agri environmental data is not published in modern mapping formats. CSO use DEDs and townlands in census data for sheep, cattle etc, which is not useful for mapping actual density]

EPA have completed a study on using satellite images to identify illegal waste activity (large dumps). The study has created a risk map for illegal waste dumping activity. It concluded it is not feasible to use satellite images to automatically identify illegal waste dumps as it returns too many false positives and more work is needed to eliminate these.

OSI is tendering for sensor technology. R&D focus is around generation of remotely sensed digital twin to integrate 2D and 3D mesh information. This would enable shading of oblique objects based on the colour information from objects underneath. GeoHive2 being formally launched in November at GeoGov.

OSI gave an update on the progress of landcover mapping project. For landcover mapping, the country is divided into eight biogeographical areas. Half the country has completed production and validation, the Burren area is to complete in August and the North-West and West will be completed in November. If external validation is possible for the NW and West (as has been done for the Eastern areas) this would be helpful. It will be next year when all data is ready to release but OSI are thinking about the products that would come from the landcover map.

The 3 excel sheets provided via this FOI need further consideration. For example, Task 3 sheet below, suggests much of the priority work on peatland protection is planned to be pushed out to 2025. This is the first time I’ve seen this written down.

Irish Water Top 26 Water Treatment Plants – Assessment Report

Author: John Leamy – Drinking Water Compliance Lead – Irish Water

Date: 26/11/21

Note: FOI request was submitted for the actual audit reports on 20 of these 26 sites, which was sent to Internal Review on 14/1/22, but no individual audit reports were produced by Irish Water, aside from one on Lough Mask WTP (Tourmakeady WTP)

Alarm/Inhibits

1. Free chlorine (high & low alarms/inhibits)

2. pH (high & low alarms/inhibits),

3. Settled Turbidity (high alarm),

4. Individual Filter turbidity (high alarm/inhibit)

5. Final water turbidity (high alarm/inhibit)

6. UV system (alarms/inhibits)

Q: Are the chlorine dosing alarms are in place for both high and low levels of chlorine ?

Water Abstraction Register (Non Drinking Water)

Under the AIE Regs to request a copy of the Water Abstraction Register (non drinking water) to include


1)  the name and address of the person or persons undertaking the abstraction as per S4 (1) b) of S.I. No. 261/2018 – European Union (Water Policy) (Abstractions Registration) Regulations 2018

2)  the address and location, including the grid coordinates, at which the abstraction is taking place as per S4 (1) c) of S.I. No. 261/2018 – European Union (Water Policy) (Abstractions Registration) Regulations 2018

3) the name and contact details of the person responsible for registering the abstraction, if different from the person undertaking the abstraction as per S4 (1) d) of S.I. No. 261/2018 – European Union (Water Policy) (Abstractions Registration) Regulations 2018


4) the purpose of the abstraction, any related planning conditions or court orders, and where appropriate provide linkages with other reporting requirements as specified by the Agency as per S4 (1) e) of S.I. No. 261/2018 – European Union (Water Policy) (Abstractions Registration) Regulations 2018


5) details of any enforcement actions undertaken by EPA under S.I. No. 261/2018 – European Union (Water Policy) (Abstractions Registration) Regulations 2018 since the introduction of the SI on 24th July, 2018

https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2018/si/261/made/en/print

Open Data Unit FOI 261/11/21

Any correspondence between the Open Data Unit and the following Departments / Agencies in relation to the implementation, use and enforcement of the Open Data Directive;


-Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

-OSi

-EPA

-Coillte

FOI on Directive 2004/27/EC (relating to medicinal products for human use)

Directive 2004/27/EC (relating to medicinal products for human use) introduces an obligation for Member States to implement appropriate collection schemes for unused pharmaceutical products. It is designed to reduce the volumes of medicines flushed into water supply.

However, the Directive does not appear provide any guidelines on implementation of schemes

eg “specific precautions relating to the disposal of unused medicinal products or waste derived from medicinal products, where appropriate, as well as reference to any appropriate collection system in place”

The Irish programme is/was called the “Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly” (DUMP) Programme and is designed to prevent disposal of unused medicines into drains and waterways

FOI submitted to HSE on Monday 18 October 2021 to request any information of the existence, scope, scale and funding for the HSE programme for ‘take back’ of medicines at Irish pharmacies

HSE confirm that they do not operate a Programme for the “take back” of medicines at Irish Pharmacies

Follow on FOI to EU

Based on HSE response, FOI submitted to EU to ask has Ireland implemented Directive 2004/27/EC, is there a reporting requirement, has Ireland reported, and please supply any reports made under the Directive

Submitted 22/11/21

https://www.asktheeu.org/en

AIE on drainage operations on Bord na Mona landbank

Bord na Mona are not subject to FOI

AIE (03/11/2021)

To: InformationOfficer@bnm.ie, andrea.clarke@bnm.ie

Under the AIE Regulations, I would like to request a list of all current bog drainage operations currently underway on BNM properties

For clarify, I’m asking for ALL drainage operations on the BNM landbank. Not just BNMs own drainage operations e.g. any underway via joint ventures with PowerGen, Coillte, ESB, OPW or others

BnM Decision:

Bord na Mona plc does not hold any information in relation to your request.
The information in relation to your request is held by Bord na Móna Energy Limited. It is the
opinion of Bord na Móna Energy Limited that they are not a public authority for the purpose of the
AIE Regulations.
Your request to Bord na Móna plc is therefore refused.

As of Sept 2021, the OIC ruled on this issue in relation to BnM Biomass, so the above will go to Appeal

https://www.ocei.ie/decisions/right-to-know-clg-and-bor/