December 12th, 2017
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called on local authorities to improve inspections to clamp down on the illegal dumping of tyres and improve air quality across the country.
In its review of local authorities’ enforcement performance, the environmental watchdog found that 23 out of 31 local authorities improved their environmental performance from 2014 to 2016.
However, the review found that local authorities still need to improve inspection rates to target solid fuel quality and labeling of fuels that can directly impact our air quality and health.
The review stated that the level of particulate matter in our air is of growing concern, especially during the winter months. The European Environment Agency estimates that air pollution is the cause of the premature death of over 1,500 Irish people every year.
Inspections to improve recycling of food waste and reduce the illegal dumping of tyres are also required, the review found. In particular, the review calls for greater focus on inspections of tyre retailers in 2018 to drive compliance with new waste tyre regulations announced earlier this year.
The new regulations will establish a visible Environmental Management Cost (vEMC) per tyre that will go directly towards used tyre collection, transport and disposal. Tyre operators will also have to provide data on the numbers of tyres coming on and off the market.
The number of illegally dumped tyres scattered across the country is conservatively estimated to be around 750,000, with an estimated 35,000 tonnes of waste tyres generated annually.
National inspection data
Local authorities are responsible for regulating over 500 environmental protection requirements across 100-plus pieces of environmental legislation to control air quality, water quality and waste management.
The review found that local authorities carried 140,000 site inspections and 15,000 associated enforcement actions and 400 prosecutions in 2016.
Authorities also handled 60,000 environmental complaints related to illegal dumping, water pollution, and air and noise pollution.
Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, Darragh Page said that, while the review points to “evidence of improvements” by local authorities, it also “maps out where improvements can be targeted”.
He added: “To protect our health and the environment, we are recommending that local authorities target inspections particularly to improve air quality and manage our waste streams to increase recycling levels.”