Shareholder Letter of Expections: ESB, EirGrid, Coillte, Bord na Mona

AIE Request P004/2021

ESB 2013

EirGrid 2014

Bord na Mona 2014

Coillte 2014

ESB 2015

Bord na Mona 2015

ESB 2017

Coillte 2017

EirGrid 2017

EirGrid 2019

ESB 2019

Financial statements and accounts presented to the Oireachtas library since January 2020, identifying the audit opinion and where attention is drawn to particular issues in the audit certificate

FOI request


16 September 2022

Note: these records are for all audits, not just audits of public bodies with an environmental remit


I refer to your request of 6 September 2022 made under the Freedom of Information Act, 2014 (FOI Act) for a list of all the entities that the CAG audits highlighting those entities where the audit report includes some form of qualification (e.g. Failte Ireland), emphasis of matter (e.g. Financial Services & Pensions Ombudsman, Trinity College Dublin etc..) or notes some other form of issue (e.g. the inadequate accounting records note re REBO audit report).

While the Office does not currently publish the requested information in summarised form, it does have a
record containing the type of information you have requested.

I, as the Deciding Officer, have therefore made a final decision to grant your request on 16 September 2022.

Schedule of records
A schedule is attached to this letter which identifies the record that the Office of the Comptroller and
Auditor General considers best meets your requirements. It includes
– the name of the audit body
– the accounting period and turnover
– date the accounts were certified by the C&AG
– date the accounts were laid in the Oireachtas Library
– audit opinion and details where attention is drawn to particular issues in the audit certificate.

The available record covers the period from January 2020 to September 2022 and is based on when financial statements and accounts are presented to the Oireachtas library. The record is being made available to you electronically and includes a hyperlink to the financial statements and accounts on the Oireachtas library website.

The Office is currently considering the potential to publish the requested information in summarised form on our website in the future.

Rights of appeal
Under the FOI Acts, I am required to inform you that if you are not satisfied with this decision you may
appeal in writing to the Freedom of Information Unit, Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, 3A
Mayor Street Upper, Dublin 1. You must make this appeal within four weeks from the date of this notification (the making of a late appeal may be allowed in certain circumstances).



Presentation on EPA Enforcement Activities

Useful overview of the OEE division of EPA

> 1500 inspections/yr
10-20 prosecutions/yr

24 active cases before the courts
• 11 District Court
• 2 Circuit (via DPP)
• 11 High Court

Environment and Public Purse protected from Environmental Liabilities and Damage from Regulated Sites

No regulated activity having an impact on the environment or public health (water/air/odour)

Reduced GHG emissions from regulated activities

Unauthorised peat activities ceased

Improved and consistent Local Authority environmental performance delivering better compliance and environmental outcomes

OEE functions and resources aligned to be responsive and adaptable to meet emerging challenges

OEE Leadership team working collaboratively to foster a culture of innovation, support, flexibility and responsiveness across the OEE

Improved engagement and interaction with the regulated community and other Stakeholders

Improved access to information for the public

EPA System for Tracking KPIs for the River Basin Management Plan

Request under the AIE Regulations for an electronic copy of the following documentation outlining the mechanism to track KPIs for the RBMP

On pg 34 of the report entitled “REVIEW OF THE LOCAL AUTHORITY WATERS PROGRAMME” the author Dr Matt Crowe notes:

In 2019, the EPA commenced developing a system for tracking the main KPIs for the River Basin Management plan and this would have included a mechanism for tracking progress with the two PAA targets mentioned above so it is possible that a mechanism and information exists within the overall State system but it does not appear to be publicly accessible.

Dr Crowe’s report was published in Jan 2021

A key commitment in the Programme for Government, is launching a new strengthened River Basin Management Plan to help Ireland protect, improve and sustainably manage our water environment to 2027.

A public mechanism to track KPIs underpins the RBMP

Under the current RBMP there are no public KPIs for LAWPRO, ASSAP, the related regional/national committees, the water related roles within local authorities, or the implementation bodies

AIE (25/3/22)


Dr. Matt Crowe
January, 2021

This review is presented in two parts.

Part 1 presents an assessment of the overall strategic landscape within which LAWPRO sits, together with some implications for the future direction of LAWPRO.

Part 2 presents the assessment of LAWPRO drawing on some of the key learnings from the strategic review set out in Part 1.

The main objectives of the assessment were:

  1. Assess the role and contribution of LAWPRO to the current level of progress in implementing the actions outlined in the second-cycle River Basin Management Plan (RBMP).
  2. Complete a full review of the LAWPRO operation, building on work already completed, to consider its effectiveness in delivering on its objectives and to identify opportunities for improving and strengthening its operation during the next RBMP, taking into account the ambition of the third RBMP.
  3. Examine the opportunities for integrating and delivering on water policy, Climate Change, Biodiversity and broader economic, social and environmental sustainability objectives and identify the role that LAWPRO might play in achieving this during the third RBMP cycle.
    The review is based on an assessment of the documents provided by The Department for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), in particular, the external review of LAWPRO, LAWPRO’s submission to the DHLGH, the research conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the business cases for both the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office (LAWCO) and the Local Authority Support and Advice Team (LAWSAT), the 2018 and 2019 Annual Reports for LAWPRO, the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) internal report, Significant Water management Issues consultation submissions and the current river basin management plan.


“the 3rd cycle plan must explicitly deal with any exemptions being applied in accordance with the provisions of the Directive, including where natural conditions are being invoked as a reason for aiming for less stringent objectives”

clarity about the respective roles of LAWPRO and local authorities

“if the 3rd cycle plan makes it explicit through prioritisation and goal setting that protecting and improving waters are of equal importance, then LAWPRO should have a lead role in both strategies. Currently, LAWPRO’s primary focus is on the Priority Areas for Action (PAA) which are mainly about seeking improvement in water quality. This is fine for the remainder of the second cycle but will not be enough for the 3rd cycle which will require clear and fully integrated catchment strategies for protecting and improving all water bodies.

“more emphasis should be placed by both LAWPRO and ASSAP on how the various steps in the process translate into the ‘right action in the right place at the right time’ actually happening, how it is verified and recorded that it has happened and the subsequent impact on water quality. This will be the real acid test of how the entire LAWPRO/ASSAP process is working

“Progressing the blue dots catchment programme objective has been very slow”

Set “clear and straightforward objectives” for LAWPRO – “These high level KPIs will need to include both quantitative and qualitative indicators”

“LAWPRO’s role in converting advice into action is also worth considering as there have to be consequences for either Implementing Bodies or land owners not taking action once the ‘right action in the right place at the right time and by the right person or organisation’ has been identified and agreed”

“Ideally, local authority staff would also engage on a regular basis with local agricultural advisors when it comes to engaging with local farmers so that a level of consistency is brought to providing farmers with advice about what to do”

The five regional operational committees have broad representation from the various implementation bodies and are perfectly positioned to facilitate a ratcheting up of collaborative implementation at catchment and sub-catchment levels

“It is difficult to nail down in precise terms the ‘stated objectives’ of LAWPRO” – Clarify the precise objectives set for LAWPRO for the third cycle. They will not necessarily be the same as for the second cycle. Without clear and straightforward objectives, it is difficult to track progress and to evaluate relative success over time.

LAWPRO currently use indicators to track meeting numbers and levels of participation. These provide evidence of ‘showing up’ but say little about the quality of participation, buy-in and engagement or how people feel about the engagement.

Under the current arrangements, neither LAWPRO or ASSAP can force the problem owner, be they another public body, a body corporate or a private citizen, to take the right action in the right place at the right time but are relying on the goodwill and cooperation of the problem owner to take the necessary action.

A key ‘de-minimus’ purpose for the blue dots catchment programme was to coordinate activities across all Implementing Bodies to ensure that actions were undertaken at these 141 water bodies to maximise the chances of their meeting their high-status objective. Ideally, the programme would also maintain a watching brief of the 243 water bodies deemed not at risk to ensure they remained so and did not deteriorate in quality

Growing need for up to date information about both water quality and the actions being taken (the right action in the right place) so that as dynamic and up to date a system of information as possible is available for both practitioners and the public

The key outcome is ‘an improvement in water quality in the priority areas for action (PAAs)’.

Note: author unable to locate EPA KPI mechanism, first created in 2019

National Coordination and Management Committee

The NCMC. This committee provides the necessary interface between science, policy and programme delivery.

It agrees and oversees the overall work programmes and reports to the WPAC on progress.

The NCMC is tasked with addressing potential obstacles to implementation and advising the WPAC on future policy needs.

The NCMC is chaired by the DHLGH and comprises representatives of the DHLGH and the EPA, and the chairs of the regional management committees.

AIE 16/3/22 Minutes/agenda/reports

Sharing Lessons Learned from Water Governance

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.

Project Highlights

Watch the project highlights

Identifying Pressures

Clean, healthy water is essential for our economy, our aquatic wildlife and our health and wellbeing. However, as noted in the foreword to 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’’.

A complex array of stakeholders are involved in water quality. Like many other environmental challenges, water is often described as a “wicked problem”, with “wicked” denoting resistance to resolution. It is a problem for which there is no single solution and no determinable stopping point.

Informing Policy

The objective of the research carried out by the Institute of Public Administration, as part of a 2-year research programme funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, 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. Measures on implementation and governance, which are included in Section 5 of the draft third-cycle Plan, published in September 2021, are informed by findings of the research programme. Draft governance measures proposed for the third-cycle River Basin Management Plan encompass actions with respect to the roles and responsibilities of the various implementing bodies, an enhanced programme of monitoring and reporting of progress, a greater emphasis on compliance within the full mix of regulatory approaches, a capacity-building programme to ensure the transfer of learning and knowledge, and the further activation, development and support of local-level initiatives.

Developing Solutions

A central element of the research programme has been to review water governance using experimental governance as a framework. Experimental governance is a governance model developed by academics Chuck Sabel and Jonathan Zeitlin (2012) to support the governance of so-called wicked problems. These are challenging policy issues that require a cross-government response. The complexity of these issues means that, while the ultimate goal (e.g. clean water) is clear, there is no obvious solution or pathway to achieve this goal. Rather, the solution is arrived at incrementally through an iterative process that, crucially, involves frontline and local-level stakeholders. While the water governance structures established under the second-cycle River Basin Management Plan were not set up deliberately with an experimental governance approach in mind, many tenets of experimental governance are evident in the approach. The conclusions of the research programme highlight that better structures and processes do matter, but the capacity of the public servants involved is also vital in ensuring better governance.