For the period 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022 (both dates inclusive) please provide, by email, a copy of all Notices served under Section 12 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977 in relation to forestry activities. (Other non-forestry related Section 12 Notices are not requested)
Decision of the Commissioner for Environmental Information on an appeal made under article 12(5) of the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2018 (the AIE Regulations)
Appeal was about
whether the information requested by the appellant is “environmental information” within the meaning of the AIE Regulations;
if so, whether the Council is entitled to rely on article 7(3) of the Regulations to refuse to provide the appellant with the information in the form or manner requested by him
“The Council’s submissions to this Office were, at best, unclear and made reference to the fact that the information was commercially sensitive”
“It should also be noted that the Council’s communications both to the appellant and to this Office have been sparse and sometimes difficult to comprehend.”
“The appellant argues that the information is “environmental information” within the meaning of the AIE Regulations as “financial conditions on a quarry are an integral part of the environment including as they do; reinstatement bonds, monitoring contributions, upkeep of roads and so forth”.”
“The Council was asked by the Investigator to demonstrate where the information requested by the appellant was available to the public in an easily accessible form or manner and to explain the basis on which it considered that access in an alternative form or manner was reasonable. It did not address either of those questions in detail”
This is the first report under the revised Local Authority Performance Framework, which aims to better align performance scores to the delivery of environmental outcomes under National Enforcement Priorities (NEPs).
These NEPs are categorised under four themes (governance processes, waste, water, and air & noise)
Nationally in 2021, over 500 local authority staff handled almost 81,000 complaints and carried out over 205,000 environmental inspections. A high portion of resources are applied to dealing with the 81,000 complaints, most of these relate to litter and waste.
The governance process NEPs generally scored well with 67% achieving the required standard.
The lowest performing governance process NEP was Environmental Outcomes, which reflects the fact that local authorities did not sufficiently define environmental outcomes that are targeted and quantifiable.
Two local authorities failed to meet the required standard in any of the five governance process NEPs. These were Mayo and Wexford
Waterford City & County achieved a Limited result across four of the governance process NEPs, which could not be assessed because they did not submit an RMCEI Plan for the 2021 reporting period.
There currently is no overarching local authority data gathering and reporting system for environmental enforcement
A new National Environmental Management Information System (NEMIS) is being developed by the local authorities, which will improve the efficiency of complaint handling, along with the planning and implementation of environmental enforcement activities.
No local authority achieved the required standard in all five water NEPs
Overall, water quality is in decline across Ireland and the level of enforcement activity is low, with 24% of local authority environmental staff assigned to water monitoring and enforcement in 2021. The water area represents 20% of the national environmental inspections, with over 42,000 water related inspections undertaken by local authorities in 2021. Over 1000 waterbodies are impacted negatively by agriculture. However, in 2021 farm inspections were 43% below pre-COVID levels with 2500 farm inspections carried out. The number of water complaints received by local authorities increased by 14% to 3600 in 2021
Six local authorities failed to meet the required standard in each of the five water NEPs. These were Laois, Mayo, Offaly, South Dublin, Sligo and Waterford City and County. Overall, the level of inspection and enforcement activity is low.
Local Authorities inspect farms under the Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Waters (GAP) Regulations. Surface waters and groundwaters continue to be under pressure from nitrogen and phosphorus from agriculture. 34% of local authorities achieved the required standard for this NEP.
Discharge Licensing: Local authorities inspect compliance with water pollution discharge licences. 33% of local authorities achieved the required standard in this NEP. Despite being planned routine work, there is an inconsistent level of enforcement activity at licenced sites, and many local authorities demonstrated little activity under this NEP.
European Parliament and Council Recommendation 2001/331/EC, on the Recommended Minimum Criteria for Environmental Inspections in member states, known as “RMCEI”. Appendix III provides an Overview of the Local Authority Environmental Enforcement Activity Trends as reported through the RMCEI data
Ballymurtagh Landfill closed for waste acceptance in 2002. The capping of the landfill was complete in 2006. It is located on a previously used open cast copper mines. Today, the landfill is on aftercare and a small recycling centre operates adjacent to the landfill
There have been no complaints arising from the activities at Ballymurtagh for over 20 years.
The landfill is located in the area of the old Avoca Mines. Groundwater in the entire area shows excessively high levels of metals, which are detected in the quarterly analysis. At one location, Ammonia from the landfill leachate discharge is also detected. This level has been demonstrated to be decreasing over time.
EPA agreed financial provision is in place. CRAMP & ELRA last agreed by the Agency in 2017
The annual slope stability assessment was last undertaken in 2016. The most recent slope stability assessment report submitted to the Agency was on 03/12/2013 (ref. LR006371). This is a Non- Compliance with Condition 6.17.
The topographical survey for 2021 was not undertaken at the site. This is a Non-Compliance with Condition 6.18. It is noted that a topographical survey for 2022 has been partially undertaken at the site in 2022 in response to the landfill cap breach (ref. INCI022640).
Comply with Conditions 6.17 & 6.18. With regard to the 2016 slope stability assessment, the Licensee shalloutline how and when the recommendations outlined in the report were implemented.
The Licensee shall ensure all future slope stability assessments shall investigate the slope integrity at bothsurface and subsurface levels.
The landfill gas collection infrastructure has not been maintained and is not fit for purpose – pipelines have sagged and become blocked with condensate and/or disconnected from the flare. This has resulted in a 50% loss of the landfill gas collection network, low volumes of landfill gas reaching the flare, higher volumes of oxygen being drawn into the gas field and difficulties in balancing the gas field and maintaining the run- time of the flare.
This is a Non-Compliance with Condition 3.6
On occasion the flare has been used to drain the pipework of leachate, which poses a risk of over-drawing the gas field and pulling oxygen into the gas collection network.
There are two functioning leachate wells at the site – Condition 6.15.2 requires five wells to be maintained at the site.
This is a Non-Compliance with Conditions 6.15.1 & 6.15.2.
The landfill gas collection system was disconnected from the enclosed landfill gas flare and connected to a low calorific high temperature open flare in 2020.
This was done in the absence of assessing the performance of the landfill gas collection network, and despite the Licensee being aware of issues in the network.
The Licensee failed to submit a Specified Engineering Works (SEW) proposal and obtain the written approval of the Agency prior to undertaking these works. This is a Non-Compliance with Conditions 1.4 and 3.3.1.
While the low calorific high temperature flare is being operated at temperatures around 1,020oC, the Licensee could not confirm the burn chamber residence time during the site visit, to demonstrate compliance with Condition 6.16.3.
The Licensee has undertaken one landfill cap performance assessment report since the licence was granted. The Licensee is required to undertake a landfill cap performance assessment once every three years and report to the Agency on each occasion. The Licensee has not submitted this report to the Agency in three years prior to 31/12/2021.
This is a Non-Compliance with Condition 6.20.
Monitoring of leachate levels is required to be undertaken monthly. Licensee return LR065199 shows the Licensee is undertaking this monitoring on a quarterly basis.
This is a Non-Compliance with Condition 6.1 & Schedule C.3.
Landfill gas balancing records are maintained on a monthly basis. However additional balancing undertaken more frequently at a smaller number of wells is not recorded.
The quality of balancing records does not allow for the interrogation of actions taken during the balancing exercise i.e. the balancing sheets do not record the:
• Existing state of the valve at the wellhead (for example, closed, 10% open, 100% open); • Changes made to the valve during the balancing event; • Gas concentrations prior to making changes and after making changes (if applicable); • Any observations made during the balancing exercise, such as infrastructure repairs needed, condensate draining needed/undertaken, issues/odours noted/addressed
While it is noted the site is visited daily by Council staff, the flare is not connected to an out of hours call out/alarm system.
This is a Non-Compliance with Condition 6.1 & Schedule C.1.1.
The annual VOC monitoring was not undertaken at the landfill in 2021.
Surface water drainage and infrastructure used to divert surface water away from the landfill waste body has not been maintained – these include the:
• Surface water drains and swales (which were not sufficient to divert surface water away from the cap, evident by the cap being wet underfoot, rushes growing and swales had long grass growing in them); • Landfill cap depressions (allowing ponding of water on the cap); and • Surface water retention pond (which was overgrown and inaccessible, and fencing around the pond was damaged).
The failure to maintain surface profiles, water collection drainage infrastructure and the storm water retention pond at the site is a Non-Compliance with Conditions 3.17 & 10.4.1.
The failure to demonstrate the integrity of the surface water retention pond is in Non-Compliance with Condition 6.9.
T.E. Labs monitor surface water, groundwater and leachate.
In compliance with Condition 6 of Waste Licence W0011-02, Wicklow County Council is required to carry out environmental monitoring at Ballymurtagh Landfill at such locations and frequencies as set out in Schedule C: Control & Monitoring of the licence.
Schedule C.5 details the requirements for the monitoring of receiving water, Schedule C.4 details the requirements of groundwater monitoring and C.3 the leachate monitoring.
Quarterly reports are submitted in line with the requirements set out in the licence.
Groundwater in the immediate area of the landfill and beyond is heavily polluted from the workings associated with Avoca mines. Specifically, extremely high levels of metals and resulting conductivity are observed along with low pH.
The groundwater-monitoring programme includes monitoring wells: Twin Shafts G1/04 G1/05 G2/05 RC6 SW3 (Ballymurtagh Road Adit) and at five private wells.
Current landfill gas collection infrastructure on the facility
There is a total of 42 vertical wells and 2 pumped condensate knock out pots on the facility. Horizontal and Vertical landfill gas abstraction is employed in the facility. There is one operational installed landfill gas enclosed flare (500 m3/hr).
TelLab undertake leachate monitoring on a quarterly basis. Leachate analysis is undertaken at all wells that are not dry.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has allocated some short-term funding to local authorities to increase efforts to deal with several water quality pressures in high risk water bodies, the largest of which is agriculture, under the 2nd River Basin Management Plan and continuing into the 3rd cycle plan yet to be published.
As a first step, an increased programme of agricultural inspections will be compiled and commenced in these water bodies in the coming months. The resources for this work will be drawn from the private sector and this contract is for the engagement of suitably qualified contract staff to carry out the required inspections in various catchments within Donegal County Council’s functional area.
These inspections will focus primarily on farmyards and compliance with the Good Agricultural Practice Regulations, eg – slurry storage, silage pits, manure pits/dungsteads, minimisation of soiled water, drains and adjacent water-courses, including cattle access and farm roadways.
Initial planning, selection of sites and follow-up actions, including enforcement will be carried out by local authority staff. The Council will draw up a weekly programme of inspections in a small number of “at risk” catchments and these will be completed by the contract staff using a pre-set inspection template and recorded in electronic format. Farms to be inspected will include the full range of farm types, including, dairy, sheep and mixed farms.
Louth County Council, with the support of the Local Biodiversity Action Plan fund, invites proposals for the provision of professional services for conservation assessment, reporting and recommendations for future management of grazing and of visitors on that section of Clogherhead SAC owned and managed by Louth County Council
Responses are invited from experienced ecological consultants (contractors) with proven experience of managing grazing for biodiversity conservation and also of controlling pressure from recreational visitors. The brief requires detailed, site specific guidance and recommendations for grazing (commencement, termination and intensity) on a site that is heavily used by walkers, including dog-walkers.
An illustrated, objective report on the current ecological condition of the SAC, paying particular attention to the presence or absence of the species for which the SAC was designated. This should focus primarily on the Council-owned section of the SAC but it may be useful to draw comparisons, whether positive or negative, with the effect of management on adjacent areas in private ownership and managed as farms.
Detailed recommendations for future conservation grazing of the Council-owned part of the SAC. This should specify which species of grazing animals would be best (e.g. cows and/or calves, sheep, goats, ponies), how many animals (Livestock Units) are required, for how long and when grazing should begin and end (e.g. start June to October), while bearing in mind annual climatic variability.
Mapping and appraisal of the many informal walking routes currently in use over the Council-owned land, with reference to the use of the path from Little Strand, close to Clogherhead village, to Port Oriel. How many paths across the Council-owned land exist ? How many people are using them? How many have dogs? Are there runners or cyclists too? While it would be useful to know what the catchment area of the site is, in terms of walking/ recreation/ exercise, tenderers are not required to cover this but comments are welcome. Liaison with adjacent landowners and community bodies might be required to inform this aspect of the project. Consideration might be given to holding a public event, if considered useful.
Recommendations for the control and better guidance of recreational use of the SAC land, including creating new access points and routes or closing off existing ones. Directional signage or other more subtle techniques to control and direct walkers should be proposed. Suggestions for access for people with limited mobility would be welcome.
An informed, comparative assessment of littering on the site, including but not limited to: waste from trawling and cliff angling, flotsam, picnics, consumption of takeaways, barbecues, setting off of fireworks, dog mess bags, cigarette butts, sweet wrappers.
To establish a Multi-Party Framework for Engineering Consultancy services for the preparation of Surface Water Management Plans (SWMP) for Local Area Plans (LAP), Masterplans, Urban Frameworks and other study areas;
Surface Water Management plans will consist of two key integral parts;
1. Preparation of Strategic Flood risk assessments in accordance with the “Planning system and Flood risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities”. This will include for all relevant stages of flood risk assessment as outlined by the Guidelines.
2. Preparation of Sustainable Drainage Strategies (SDS) for the sustainable development of lands under consideration for development. The strategies will be an example of best practice in the use of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)/Nature Based Solutions. As set out in the Fingal County Development Plan, it is an objective of Fingal County Council to encourage, promote and implement sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) on all new developments throughout the county and to encourage where feasible the retrofit of sustainable drainage systems within existing developments. The Sustainable Drainage Strategy will examine the feasibility of using all SuDS solutions including, swales, permeable pavement, rainwater harvesting, tree pits, green and blue roofs, detention basins, ponds and wetlands amongst other SuDS devices. The SDS must comply with the Fingal County Council Green Blue Infrastructure Guidance and the Dept of Housing Nature Based Solution Guidance 2022.