Water Policy Advisory Committee Meetings – 2019 to 2021

The Water Policy Advisory Committee (WPAC), established pursuant to S.I. 350 of 2014, provides policy advice and assistance to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and on broader water resource issues.

WPAC is also responsible for providing advice on and support for the making of River Basin Management Plans, including the programmes of measures as part of those Plans.

WPAC also invites other organisations to present to it on topics of relevance, and it has decided to publish regular bulletins to provide an overview of issues under consideration.

However, as much of the Committee’s discussions are confidential as part of the wider deliberative process, these bulletins are general in nature.

WPAC Membership
Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Chair) (D/HPLG)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Office of Public Works (OPW)
Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI)
Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU)
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (D/AFM)
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (D/CHG)
Department of Health (D/H)
County and City Management Association (CCMA)
Health Service Executive (HSE)
Irish Water (IW)
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI)

Note: nothing substantive that’s not available / mentioned via multiple other sources, aside from:

D/HPLG provided information on the new oversight group for the ASSAP.

Abstractions Bill – pre-legislative scrutiny stage on the 20th October 2020

Shannon catchment – fish passage Ardnacrusha / Parteen – Roadmap for the implementation of potential solutions was close to completion, and with the Steering Group by end of 2020

Programme of Measures Gap Analysis mentioned. Unclear if these gap analysis reports have been published by EPA. References main issues of Nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and hydromorphology (drainage, sediment and barriers) so worth following up.

Background Note from Water Advisory Unit (part of Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage) on Domestic Septic Tanks

On 29 October 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland in relation to the treatment of domestic waste waters from septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems. 

The Court ruled that, with the exception of bye-laws in County Cavan, Irish legislation did not transpose Articles 4 and 8 of Directive 75/442/EEC (the Waste Directive) insofar as domestic waste waters from such on-site treatment systems are concerned.

The Court ruled that the existing legislation only partially provided the protections required by the Directive in relation to on-site waste-water treatment systems. Specifically, the Court highlighted the absence of an appropriate system of inspection for such systems.

A response setting out Ireland’s proposed legislative response issued to the Commission in December 2009.  Following the ruling the Department worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and with officials from a number of local authorities on developing proposals to address the ruling and provide for a system of inspection.

The issues raised from the 2009 European Court of Justice ruling have since been addressed by various pieces of legislation. These include the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012, Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems Regulations (e.g. SI 220 of 2012 and SI 223 of 2012), and the introduction of the National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems to support these regulations.  Regulations can be found on the Irish Statute book website at https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/

Current details regarding Domestic waste water treatment systems (septic tanks) can be found on the Rural Water section of the Department’s website at: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/6cc1e-domestic-waste-water-treatment-systems-septic-tanks/

In terms of Ireland’s obligations, the EU Water Framework Directive, which was adopted in October 2000, is now the relevant piece of environmental legislation requiring implementation to protect our waters and it lays down very detailed requirements for the management and improvement of water quality.

These include the requirement that member states must put a programme of measures in place to protect and, where necessary, restore to at least good status all bodies of surface water and groundwater within prescribed timeframes.

To implement this requirement, member states are required to prepare “River Basin Management Plans” every 6 years. These plans must, amongst other requirements, set out the environmental improvements that will be delivered during the river basin planning cycle in question and describe the programme of measures that will be implemented to meet the objectives set out in the plan.

Details relating to the Water Framework Directive are available on the Water Advisory Units section on the Department’s website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/f7c76-water-framework-directive/

Details of the most recent plan can be found at:https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/429a79-river-basin-management-plan-2018-2021/ and details of public consultation on the draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022-2027 can be found at the following link: www.gov.ie/draftRBMP

All-Island Climate and Biodiversity Research Network (AICBRN)

This major initiative brings together leading research centres across the whole island of Ireland to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency where a trans-national approach is essential.

Researchers from all of the centres across the network have come together to work with national, regional and local governments, communities and industry to effectively deliver solutions to climate, biodiversity and social challenges caused by global warming.

‘The ambition of the AICBRN is to develop a large-scale research and innovation initiative to improve public good policy and management decisions, underpin business and enterprise strategies and strengthen societal capacity to address the climate and biodiversity emergencies’

We will be investigating:

  • Clean energy solutions and how to economically implement these to achieve a socially just transition away from fossil fuels
  • Prevention of biodiversity loss, reversing degradation in ecosystems and how to make our natural environment more resilient to climate change
  • Protecting and enhancing agriculture in Ireland and looking to achieve negative carbon emissions
  • Improving climate predictions and the level of uncertainty to improve forecasting of adverse weather and flood risk

https://www.aicbrn.net/network-members

Ecosystem Accounting

The SEEA Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) constitutes an integrated and comprehensive statistical framework for organizing data about habitats and landscapes, measuring the ecosystem services, tracking changes in ecosystem assets, and linking this information to economic and other human activity.

The United Nations Statistical Commission adopted the SEEA Ecosystem Accounting at its 52nd session in March 2021. The report of the Commission can be found here.

This adoption follows a comprehensive and inclusive process of detailed testing, consultation and revision. Today, ecosystem accounts have already been used to inform policy development in more than 34 countries.

https://seea.un.org/ecosystem-accounting

Article 17 Reports (2019)

The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland 2019 (Article 17 Report, Volume 1)

This is the third report on the assessment of the status of habitats and species that Ireland
is required to protect under the EU Habitats Directive. These assessments serve as a
benchmark for the status of biodiversity in Ireland.

Habitat Assessments (Article 17 Report, Volume 2)

Species Conservation Assessments (Article 17 Report, Volume 3)

OPW Site Specific Appropriate Assessments

Appropriate Assessments are conducted by the OPW themselves, after the works are completed.

Examples from 2019/2020 show they can involved removal of trees, gravel and other in-stream works

As the list of projects is not published in advance, there is no opportunity for community engagement, or an actual environmental assessment.

Examples:

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Appropriate Assessment Determination Statement – Sluice Valve Replacement on River Shannon, Tervoe, Mungret, Co. Limerick

The purpose of this Appropriate Assessment (AA) Determination Statement is to provide a statement for the public and relevant bodies to ascertain that an AA has been conducted in accordance with relevant regulations. The purpose is to allow interested parties to assess the competent authority determination.Download

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Appropriate Assessment Determination Statement – Removal of a Gravel Berm from the River Feale in Listowel, Kerry

The purpose of this Appropriate Assessment (AA) Determination Statement is to provide a statement for the public and relevant bodies to ascertain that an AA has been conducted in accordance with relevant regulations. The purpose is to allow interested parties to assess the competent authority determination.Download

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Appropriate Assessment Determination Statement – Enhancement Works of Defence Embankments on the Cappagh River, Portumna, Galway

The purpose of this Appropriate Assessment (AA) Determination Statement is to provide a statement for the public and relevant bodies to ascertain that an AA has been conducted in accordance with relevant regulations. The purpose is to allow interested parties to assess the competent authority determination.Download

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Appropriate Assessment Determination Statement – Enhancement Works of an Embankment on Newport River, Ballymakeogh, Tipperary

The purpose of this Appropriate Assessment (AA) Determination Statement is to provide a statement for the public and relevant bodies to ascertain that an AA has been conducted in accordance with relevant regulations. The purpose is to allow interested parties to assess the competent authority determination.Download

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Appropriate Assessment Determination Statement – Embankment Enhancement Works at Douglas, Killorglin, Kerry

The purpose of this Appropriate Assessment (AA) Determination Statement is to provide a statement for the public and relevant bodies to ascertain that an AA has been conducted in accordance with relevant regulations. The purpose is to allow interested parties to assess the competent authority determination.Download

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Appropriate Assessment Determination Statement – De-Silting Works at Adare Bridge, Blackabbey, Adare, Limerick

The purpose of this Appropriate Assessment (AA) Determination Statement is to provide a statement for the public and relevant bodies to ascertain that an AA has been conducted in accordance with relevant regulations. The purpose is to allow interested parties to assess the competent authority determination.Download

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AA Determination Statement – Moy River Deel Tree Management

The purpose of this Appropriate Assessment (AA) Determination Statement is to provide a statement for the public and relevant bodies to ascertain that an AA has been conducted in accordance with relevant regulations. The purpose is to allow interested parties to assess the competent authority determination.Download

Note: AIE submitted on list of projects planned for 2022

Under the AIE regulations, to request details on completed and planned projects by the OPW that fall within the phrase ‘Appropriate Assessment Determination Statements‘ for 2021 and 2022

Response to AIE

LAWPRO AIE Request: Priority Areas for Action (PAAs) 21/10/2021

FOI-0421-2021 ( Submitted to AIE@housing.gov.ie who redirected to david.coleman@tipperarycoco.ie ) 1/11/21

“Under the AIE Regulations 2007-2018, please provide any communications which identifies the measures listed as “Quick Wins” by LAWPRO catchment scientists and passed on to ASSAP for action


For context:

LAWPRO catchment scientists work in specific catchment areas called Priority Areas for Action (PAAs)

The list of Proposed Areas for Action can be viewed here
https://lawaters.ie/app/uploads/2021/09/National-Area-for-Action-Report_3rd-Cycle-Appendix.xlsx

There is a complete lack of transparency regarding the individual measures proposed, implemented, monitored and reported by LAWPRO (and ASSAP)

My understanding is the LAWPRO catchment scientists (there’s approx 37 of them) walk catchments to spot problems and then pass these to ASSAP to engage with the farmers, landowners, etc

Link
https://lawaters.ie/our-team/#filter=*

I would like to determine where these ‘Quick Wins’ are documented, initially written up by the Catchment Team, how they are passed to the ASSAP Team, and where all this work is eventually documented to determine is a “Quick Win” turned out to be quick and/or a win

For the purposes of this request please consider the Quick Wins in the 2nd Cycle (2018 to 2021), unless the Quick Wins have already been worked on for the 3rd Cycle (2022 to 2027)

Conservation Grazing

Sample conservation grazing projects in Ireland

Kerry Uplands

2011 to 2016

This project seeks to develop evidence-based management recommendations for the uplands, specifically with regard to the impact of cattle grazing on upland habitats. The home range and resource selection of Dexters (a native breed) in the 462 hectare Mount Brandon Nature Reserve in County Kerry is being investigated. It is a collaborative project between the Institute of Technology, Tralee, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and an organic farmer in west Kerry.

Virtual Fencing Trials

Since summer 2020, the Agri-Ecology Unit of National Parks & Wildlife Service and three farmers have been progressing Ireland’s first virtual fencing studies on commercial farms, assisted by Teagasc, IT Sligo and Michael Martyn Agri-Environmental Consultants.

These conservation grazing trials using innovative technologies are being undertaken on three farms participating in the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme (ffn-ebook-complete.pdf (npws.ie).

https://www.npws.ie/conservation-grazing-virtual-fencing-trials

Burren Programme

https://www.irishexaminer.com/farming/arid-30942454.html

Fernhill Meadows

Biodiversity Conservation of Fernhill Meadows with Droimeann Cattle

https://www.dlrcoco.ie/en/biodiversity/biodiversity-conservation-fernhill-meadows-droimeann-cattle

Lullymore West Bog, Kildare

Donkey grazing to support endangered Marsh Fritillary (Euphydyras aurinia) butterflies on the Irish Peatland Conservation Council’s Lullymore West Bog Nature Reserve in Co. Kildare

Grazing donkeys help boost endangered butterfly populations on Kildare bog

Old Irish Goats Grazing Gunnera Tinctoria

Goats to tackle the invasive plant Gunnera Tinctoria

Howth Goats

Three-year project involving the Old Irish Goat Society and Fingal County Council.

Horses on gorse

Hen Harrier programme

https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2021/0304/1201047-gorse-hen-harrier/

Green Deal targets for 2030 and agricultural production studies

Various studies, recently published, analysed possible effects of some elements of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies on EU agriculture, including the Commission’s Joint Research Centre study.

The studies provide both the scientific community and policy makers with a valuable insight on the choice of policy tools to mitigate the risks. However, the models used in the studies all have their limitations.

They are not able to assess the full impacts of the two strategies and predict the future. For instance, the future consumer behavioural changes, the impact of research and innovation or technological uptake in the agricultural sector have not, or partially, been taken into account.

Nonetheless, the Commission welcomes the studies’ contributions to the debate and is committed to make this transition towards more sustainable food systems successful so that our food systems reduce their negative impact on climate change and biodiversity loss, while ensuring that farmers and consumers can benefit from it and our long-term food security is safeguarded.

The factsheet below presents an overview of each study and the elements considered.

ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/food-farming-fisheries/key_policies/documents/factsheet-farmtofork-comparison-table_en.pdf