September 1st, 2017
The head of Ireland’s environmental watchdog is set to take up a new role as chair of the management board of the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Laura Burke will replace the outgoing Austrian chair, Elisabeth Freytag-Rigler. She will retain her position as Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which she has held since 2011.
Ms Burke has been a Director of the EPA since 2004 when she was appointed as the Agency’s Director of Communications and Corporate Services, and later as Director of the Office of Climate, Licensing, Research and Resource Use.
“Her extensive experience in the environmental field which will add value to our Agency’s work in the years ahead,” said Hans Bruyninck, the EEA’s Executive Director.
Ms Burke said that she was honoured to be elected to the position, previously holding the position of vice-chair since last December.
“Our biggest task going forward is to make sure that European citizens understand the vital role the environment plays in our everyday lives,” Ms Burke said.
Ms Burke has a chemical engineering background and was a project manager at waste management company Indaver Ireland from 1995 until she joined the EPA in 2004.
Earlier this year, The Irish Times reported that An Bord Pleanála deferred a decision for a fourth time on an Indaver application by for a €160 million incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Cork. There has been strong local opposition to the proposed development.
In January this year, an investigation in the Clare Champion examined the role of the EPA to act as an independent environmental watchdog for major chemical companies and industries emitting harmful dioxins in the county.
Ms Burke has been involved with the EEA since 2012 when she was appointed as an alternate member of the Management Board for Ireland.
The 37-member Management Board represents all EEA member countries, plus the European Commission and European Parliament.
It is the decision-making body of the Agency, responsible for approving the EEA’s work programmes, annual reports and budget, and also appoints the Executive Director.
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