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					2   Ireland’s Environment

    1                       Our strong economic
                            performance has brought
                            increased potential for
                            environmental damage - but
                            also the means to attain
                            improved environmental
                            infrastructure and services.
                                    1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context    3

1 Introduction and
  Socio-economic Context
  This third state of the environment report prepared by the Environmental
  Protection Agency is published during Ireland’s holding of the EU
  Presidency for the sixth time. It brings together the most recent
  information on the quality of Ireland’s environment and on the pressures
  and other factors that affect it, and discusses the policies, both national
  and international, intended to mitigate such pressures.

  The report is prepared at a time of unprecedented economic
  development, which has seen gross domestic product (GDP) per person
  increase, in little more than a decade, from well below the EU average
  to near the top of the range. The period has also been marked by strong
  population growth, especially in Dublin and surrounding counties.
  Industry and services now account for the bulk of GDP.

  While the potential pressures on the environment are growing, the
  means to combat them are keeping pace through an increasing range
  of laws and policies as well as structures and procedures for their
  implementation. At international level, there have been further
  developments in relation to controlling greenhouse and acidifying gas
  emissions and to the protection of air and water quality. At national level,
  the statutory controls on industrial activity and waste management have
  been strengthened, while policies have been devised to counter the
  regionally unbalanced nature of development in Ireland. It has been
  observed that Irish people now seem more aware of and concerned with
  environmental issues than they were a decade ago and show an increased
  willingness to act in a manner that benefits the environment.
4        Ireland’s Environment

    Background                                 were first undertaken in 1971.            of highlighting national
                                               However, entry to the EEC in 1973         environmental problems, the causes
    The state of the natural environment
                                               provided a major stimulus to              of such problems and the efficacy
    and humans’ dependency on its well-
                                               environmental protection activities in    of the measures taken for their
    being are now matters of universal
                                               the State, and the various Directives     elimination or amelioration. They also
    concern. This is a relatively recent
                                               and other instruments adopted by          anticipate future developments in the
    development, particularly at
                                               the Council have formed the basis of      economy and in society generally, and
    international level, and it is just over
                                               much of the national legislation in       analyse the potential impacts of such
    30 years since the first United
                                               this area since that time.                developments on the environment.
    Nations (UN) conference on the
                                                                                         Thus the intended readership is not
    environment was convened in                In addition to the increased level of
                                                                                         just the general public but also policy-
    Stockholm in 1972. The conference          monitoring of the environment that
                                                                                         makers and those charged with the
    helped to focus international              has developed over the past 30 years,
                                                                                         management of the environment.
    attention on the growing threat to         the communication of information to
                                                                                         Most of the Member States of the EU
    the environment represented by             the general public, as well as to
                                                                                         now prepare periodic reports of this
    economic growth and associated             those responsible for environmental
                                                                                         nature, and they are also published at
    social developments. While many            management, has become more
                                                                                         a pan-European level (e.g. EEA, 2003).
    forms of environmental degradation         widespread. Access to environmental
    were recognised and documented at          information is now a statutory right      The first report on the state of the
    that stage, other potential problems       of the citizens of the EU States and      Irish environment was published by
    of major global significance, e.g.         a special EU agency, the European         An Foras Forbartha in 1985. Under
    climate warming and depletion of           Environment Agency (EEA), has been        the Environmental Protection Agency
    the ozone layer, only came to full         formed to collate and disseminate         Act, the Agency is required to publish
    attention in subsequent years.             environmental information. These          a state of the environment report at
                                               initiatives have been greatly             intervals of no greater than five
    At European level, focus on the
                                               facilitated over the past decade by       years. Since its inception in 1993,
    environment also commenced in
                                               the development of electronic access      the Agency has produced two such
    earnest in the early 1970s through
                                               to databases and other forms of           reports, in 1996 and 2000, the latter
    the coordinating efforts of the UN
                                               information through the Internet, a       (Stapleton et al., 2000) intended in
    Economic Commission for Europe
                                               facility that is now fully exploited by   particular to mark the position at the
    and, in particular, those of the then
                                               national environmental agencies in        Millennium. This third report is being
    European Economic Community (EEC).
                                               the EU and by the EEA. The main           issued on the occasion of Ireland’s
    The environmental Directives that the
                                               motives for the improved                  holding of the presidency of the
    EEC agreed from the mid-1970s
                                               dissemination of information are to       European Union (EU) for the sixth
    onwards were a unique development
                                               ensure that policy-makers, managers       time. The state
    in international terms in creating
                                               and the general public are better         of the environment reports are
    binding rules on environmental
                                               informed on environmental issues          complemented by the periodic
    quality and its protection among a
                                               and, thereby, are convinced of the        publication of shorter accounts of the
    group of independent states, with
                                               need to seek improvements where           current position, based on updated
    legal sanctions applicable for default
                                               they are necessary. One important         information on key indicators of
    of these rules.
                                               vehicle for such purposes is the          environmental health and related
    National concern with environmental        national state of the environment         socio-economic developments (see
    matters had developed much earlier         report.                                   Lehane et al., 2002).
    than the 1970s in most European
                                                                                         It is now generally accepted that the
    countries, but in Ireland systematic
                                               Nature of the Report                      assessment of the situation in reports
    monitoring and assessment date
                                                                                         on the state of the environment
    only from that period. For instance,       Reports on the state of the
                                                                                         should follow the sequence: driving
    national surveys of water quality          environment are an important means
                                                                                         forces → pressures → state → impact
                                                                                                                     1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context                                                                            5

→ response (DPSIR). This reflects the     figure 1.1 CENSUS POPULATIONS 1841–2002 (SOURCE: CSO, 2002a)
fact that the pressures on the
environment come from major
changes in the economy, in particular                         6
increases in production and wealth
generation which, in turn, tend to
increase the exploitation of natural                          4

resources and the amount of waste
emitted to the environment. Unless
policies and measures, e.g. the                               2
minimisation of waste production
and amelioration of the impacts of
the residue, are in place to                                  0
                                                                   1840               1860             1880              1900                 1920                     1940              1960        1980                    2000
counteract the negative aspects of
these driving forces, pollution and
other forms of environmental
degradation follow and may build up       figure 1.2 POPULATION DENSITIES IN EU STATES (SOURCE: EUROSTAT, 2002)
a large legacy of restoration costs for
future generations. Failure to deal
with such eventualities in the earlier
part of the last century led to serious
environmental problems in many of

the industrialised countries of the
world, which have only been
addressed in a comprehensive                                  200

manner in the past 30 years. Due
to its slower rate of development in                          100

that period Ireland was largely free
of significant environmental                                       0                                                                      l
                                                                             d        en          d     ain        ce        ia        ga        nc
                                                                                                                                                    e        ar
                                                                                                                                                                   k        rg      ly        an
                                                                                                                                                                                                y   UK        um           ds        15
                                                                          lan      ed          lan    Sp        ee        str       rtu                                  ou      Ita                       lgi          an      EU
degradation up to the mid 1960s.                                       Fin       Sw        Ire                Gr        Au        Po          Fra         nm           mb                  rm            Be          erl
                                                                                                                                                        De         e                     Ge                       eth
                                                                                                                                                               Lux                                               N
However, as the previous reports
have documented, the position
changed with the subsequent
upsurge in economic activity,             figure 1.3 PROVINCIAL POPULATIONS AS PROPORTIONS OF TOTAL
                                          POPULATION IN EACH CENSUS 1841–2002 (SOURCE: CSO, 2002b)
including increased agricultural
output, leading, in particular, to
                                                              60                           Leinster
water pollution.                                                                           Munster
                                                              50                           Connacht
In addition to this series of state of                                                     Ulster
the environment reports, which take                           40
                                          Per cent of total

a broad view of the environment and
related issues, the Agency also                               30
compiles more detailed reports on
specific aspects of the environment, in                       20

particular those dealing with air (e.g.
see Delaney and McGettigan, 2004)
and water quality (e.g. see McGarrigle                         0 1840                   1860           1880              1900                 1920                     1940              1960            1980                2000
et al., 2002). These and other reports
6        Ireland’s Environment

    produced by the Agency and by              the State had reached over 3.9             2002 (2.1 million) accounted for nearly
    other bodies in Ireland and abroad         million persons by the middle of           54 per cent of the national total; this
    constitute the basis for the state of      2002; more recent estimates suggest        was the highest proportion yet
    the environment reports. The latter        that it now exceeds 4 million. The         recorded and continued an upward
    are usually not sources of original        census figure represents an 8 per          trend that has been evident since the
    information but bring together data        cent increase on the 1996 figure and       beginning of the last century (Figure
    already published or otherwise placed      is the highest population count since      1.3). The 1841 population of the
    in the public domain. The unique           1871 (Figure 1.1). Thus, the reversal      province (1.97 million), which was
    feature of the state of the environment    of the long-term decline in the            exceeded in a census for the first time
    report is the juxtaposition of all the     population, first noted in the mid-        in 2002, was approximately 30 per
    available information to provide a         1960s, continued in the period             cent of the then national total. It is
    comprehensive overview of the              1996–2002, and the average annual          notable also that Munster had the
    environment and an analysis of the         increase (48,542) in this period has       highest provincial population in 1841
    issues to which it gives rise. Most of     been matched only in the years             but this position was taken by Leinster
    the information presented herein           1971–1979. The natural increase            even before 1900.
    relates to the period 1999–2002.           (births less deaths) in the latest
                                               intercensal period was of the order        All of the county areas showed
    Pressure on the environment, as            of 138,000; this indicates that the        increases of their populations (Figure
    mentioned above, arises from those         greater part of the total increase         1.4) in the 1996–2002 period, but the
    social and economic developments           (291,000) in the period was                increase in the Leinster counties
    that entail the exploitation of natural    attributable to net migration.             immediately adjacent to the Dublin
    resources and the generation of                                                       area (Wicklow, Kildare and Meath)
    waste. To set the background to the        Despite the marked rate of Irish           was nearly three times that in the
    report, therefore, it is necessary to      population increase in recent years,       remaining counties (Figure 1.5).
    consider, inter alia, factors such as      which was nearly five times the EU         These three counties also showed the
    recent changes in population,              average in the years 1990–2000             higher rates of net migration (CSO,
    consumer spending and industrial           (Eurostat, 2002), the population           2002a). The total population of the
    and agricultural production. In            density (56 persons/km2) of the State      Borders, Midlands and Western
    addition to these key driving forces it    is still relatively low compared to that   (BMW) Region increased by 7.5 per
    is also necessary to take account of       in other EU countries, only Sweden         cent in the 1996–2002 period. The
    the measures adopted by the State          and Finland having smaller numbers         BMW Region retains Objective 1
    to lessen the impact of such               of persons per unit area (Figure 1.2).     status for the purposes of the EU
    developments through regulation and        The population density (106                Structural Fund, and comprises 13
    licensing. Some of these responses         persons/km2) of Leinster is, however,      counties: Cavan, Donegal, Galway,
    may be local initiatives, but the legal    comparable with the national               Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo,
    framework for the protection of the        position in countries such as France       Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo
    environment is increasingly based on       and Portugal. In contrast, the             and Westmeath. In the remaining
    internationally agreed rules and           population densities in Ulster (30.5       counties, comprising the Southern
    limits. The most pertinent examples        persons/km2) and Connacht (26.2            and Eastern Region, which have
    of these are EU Directives and             persons/km2) are almost as low as          Objective 1 Transition status, the
    decisions and UN conventions.              those in the two Scandinavian states.      corresponding figure was not much
                                                                                          different at 8.2 per cent. However,
                                               The bulk of the increase in the            the population density in the BMW
    Socio-Economic Context                     national population has occurred in        Region (31 persons/km2) is only two-
                                               Leinster. Of the increase of 1.099         fifths of that (79 persons/km2) in the
    Population Trends                          million persons recorded between the       remaining area, which includes most
    The preliminary report of the latest       censuses of 1961 and 2002, 0.773           of the major urban centres.
    census (Central Statistics Office (CSO),   million (70%) were counted in that
    2002a) shows that the population of        province. The population of Leinster in    The foregoing figures illustrate the
                                                                       1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context         7

growing influence of urbanisation, of      figure 1.4 PERCENTAGE INCREASES OF COUNTY POPULATIONS 1996–2002
the Dublin area in particular, on the      (SOURCE: CSO, 2002a)
national population distribution, at
least from the 1960s. It is notable              Meath
that the proportion of the State’s          Westmeath
population located in urban centres            Wicklow
has increased from 32 per cent at the          Wexford
time of the 1926 census to 60 per
cent in 2002. In addition, the figures            Louth
for the counties around Dublin reflect           Carlow
the increasing difficulty for persons              Clare
employed in the metropolitan area in
finding affordable accommodation               Kilkenny
there, leading to the large-scale                   Cork
development of housing in the
nearer provincial towns. In general,             Dublin
urbanisation carries a risk of                 Donegal
environmental damage, arising in                   Mayo
                                            Tipperary N
particular from increased traffic flows
and the need for increased water            Tipperary S
supplies, sewerage and waste                       Sligo
disposal facilities.
The Economy                                  Monaghan
                                                           0       5           10                   15         20   25
Overall Performance                                                          Per cent increase of population
Ireland’s rapid economic growth
in recent years has attracted
international attention and has            figure 1.5 MEAN PERCENTAGE INCREASE OF POPULATIONS IN THE THREE COUNTIES
been held up to other less developed       ADJACENT TO DUBLIN COMPARED TO THAT IN THE REMAINING COUNTIES, 1996–2002
states as an example of what can           (SOURCE: CSO, 2002a)
be achieved in comparable
circumstances by long-term planning.
While to some extent the scale of this              Meath
growth is a reflection of the relatively
low base from which it started, at          Other Counties
least in the EU context, the short
                                                               0        5                     10               15        20
period over which it has occurred is
unprecedented.                                                                        Per cent Increase

Taking GDP as a catch-all indicator,
economic activity has almost doubled
in intensity since 1995 (Figure 1.6).
Between the latter year and 2000 the
year-on-year increase averaged 9.9
per cent, although this reduced to
around 6 per cent for the first two
years of the new millennium. In 2000,
8        Ireland’s Environment

    Ireland’s GDP was the third highest in    requirement of the economy               These annual rates of increase greatly
    the EU on a standardised per capita       increased from 9.4 to 14.8 million       exceeded those for the EU as a whole
    basis (Figure 1.7), being nearly 119      tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE)           in the same years, where the overall
    per cent of the average for the 15        between 1990 and 2002, the amount        average for the period was less than
    States. To put this in context, the       used for each ¤1 million of GDP has      2 per cent. Some slowing up of the
    equivalent figure in 1973, when           decreased in the same period from        rate of increase in production was
    Ireland joined the EEC, was 61 per        226 to 154 TOE. This partial             recorded in 2001 and 2002. House
    cent and even in the late 1980s it        ‘decoupling’ of energy input and GDP     building has showed a similarly
    was still below 70 per cent.              is a reflection both of the type of      marked increase in this period, at the
                                              industrial activity attracted to the     end of which the annual number of
    The current National Development          State over the decade and of             units being added to the stock had
    Plan (NDP), involving an investment       increased efficiencies in the use        reached a level nearly three times the
    of over ¤ 52 billion of Public, Private   of energy.                               average for the period 1986–1994
    and EU funds (in 1999 prices) over the                                             (Figure 1.10).
    period 2000-2006, has the aims of         Most of the increase in energy use is
    sustainable national economic             accounted for by the combustion of
                                                                                       Personal Expenditure
    development, employment growth            oil. Between 1990 and 2002, the
                                                                                       The growing prosperity of the State in
    and the consolidation and                 proportion of total energy use
                                                                                       the past decade is clearly reflected in
    improvement of Ireland’s economic         attributable to this fuel increased
                                                                                       the level of personal expenditure on
    competitiveness. The Plan has a           from 45.5 to 56 per cent. The
                                                                                       goods and services (Figure 1.11),
    series of horizontal goals including      contribution of natural gas also
                                                                                       which increased by nearly 60 per cent
    social inclusion, balanced regional       increased, from 15 to 23 per cent
                                                                                       between 1995 and 2002. Allowing for
    development, rural development, and       of the total. In contrast, the input
                                                                                       population change, this meant an
    protection of the environment. The        from coal and peat combustion
                                                                                       increase of individual spending from
    mid-term evaluation by the Economic       declined from 23 and 14.4 per cent,
                                                                                       ¤8,500 to nearly ¤12,000 per annum
    and Social Research Institute             respectively, to around 13 and 6 per
                                                                                       between 1996 and 2002. For many
    (Fitzgerald et al., 2003) concluded       cent. Energy generated by renewable
                                                                                       people, increased spending resources
    that significant progress towards the     sources increased by some 70 per
                                                                                       are used to purchase consumer
    objectives of the Plan was evident.       cent in the 13 year period but, at
                                                                                       goods, holidays and, in particular,
    The ESRI report notes in particular       less than 2 per cent of the total
                                                                                       new cars. This led to spectacular
    substantial progress on the provision     requirement, remains a very small
                                                                                       increases in the numbers of new
    of wastewater treatment systems.          part of the total energy budget.
                                                                                       private vehicles registered in the
    However, the economic success of          Electricity interchange with Northern
                                                                                       years between 1993 and 2000, the
    the Plan has contributed to increased     Ireland commenced again after 1994.
                                                                                       figure for the latter year being some
    emission of greenhouse gases.             However, to date this has not
                                                                                       370 per cent of that for the former
                                              accounted for a significant fraction
                                                                                       (Figure 1.12). This has proved
    Energy Usage                              of the energy use in the State; the
                                                                                       somewhat exceptional, however, and
    Energy is a key input to the economy      highest net intake (43,000 TOE) was
                                                                                       numbers of new cars purchased in
    and, where the latter is growing          in 2002, equivalent to around 0.3 per
                                                                                       the following two years showed a
    strongly, may be expected to show         cent of the total from the other
                                                                                       significant drop. Despite this large
    much increased use. However, it was       sources (see also Chapter 8).
                                                                                       overall increase, car ownership in the
    noted in the previous state of the                                                 State, which was of the order of 370
    environment report that use of            Industry and Housing
                                                                                       per 1,000 persons in 2002, is still
    energy has been rising less steeply       At sectoral level, the total volume of   substantially below the (1999) EU
    than the rate of increase of economic     industrial production (Figure 1.9)       average of 460 per 1,000 persons
    activity. This trend continued over the   more than trebled between 1990 and       (Eurostat, 2002).
    four years from 1998 (Figure 1.8).        2000, the year-on -year increases
    While the primary energy                  averaging 12.6 per cent in the period.
                                                                                                1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context                                     9

Infrastructural Development               figure 1.6 INDEX NUMBERS OF GDP AT CONSTANT MARKET PRICES 1990–2002
                                          (1995 = 100) (SOURCE: CSO, 2002b, 2003a)
Over the past ten years, Ireland, with
EU assistance, has invested heavily       1995=100
in basic services, such as water
supply, sewage treatment and              180

telecommunications. However,              160

despite the large increase in             140

economic activity and personal            120

prosperity over this time, some of        100
the major infrastructural elements              80
associated with more developed                  60
countries remain at a relatively                40
inferior level in the State, especially         20
public transport systems. It is notable                   0
                                                                1990     1991   1992   1993    1994   1995    1996   1997     1998   1999    2000    2001   2002
also that, despite the large
investment in road building in recent
years, the length of motorway in the      figure 1.7 GDP PER HEAD (CONVERTED TO PURCHASING POWER STANDARDS) IN EU STATES
State, currently of the order of 170      IN 2000 EXPRESSED AS PERCENTAGE OF THE EU AVERAGE (SOURCE: EUROSTAT, 2002)
km (National Roads Authority (NRA),       Luxembourg
pers. comm.), is very small compared                      Denmark
to the situation in most other EU                             Ireland
States (Figure 1.13). However,            Netherlands

there appears to be no consistent                             Belgium
correspondence between the level
of car ownership and the extent of
motorway development among the                                 Finland
15 countries.                                                 Sweden
Agriculture                                                    France
In contrast to other areas of the
economy, the output from agriculture                           Greece
has not changed greatly in recent                                        0                      50                      100                         150                   200
years. In terms of producer (current)                                                                         Per cent of EU average
prices, output varied between ¤4.5
and 5.0 billion in the period
                                          figure 1.8 TOTAL PRIMARY ENERGY REQUIREMENT AND ENERGY USE PER UNIT OF
1997–2002 (CSO, 2002b, 2003b). This
                                          GDP 1990–2002 (GDP AT 1995 CONSTANT MARKET PRICES) (SOURCES: SUSTAINABLE
is reflected in the estimated numbers
                                          ENERGY IRELAND; CSO)
of livestock, which have shown
relatively minor variations in the                            16,000                                                                                                      250

past five years (Figure 1.14). However,                       14,000
the reduction in sheep numbers of                                                                                                                                         200
around 19 per cent since the peak
                                          Tonnes (000s)

                                                                                                                                                                                  TOE/¤ million

stocking of the early 1990s is notable.                                                                                                                                   150
A comparison of the situation in the                           8,000
years since 1990 with that in the                              6,000                                                                                                      100
previous decade shows that there
have been substantial increases in                                                                                                                                        50
three of the four livestock classes in                         2,000

                                                                   0                                                                                                      0
                                                                         1990   1991   1992    1993   1994    1995   1996     1997   1998    1999    2000   2001   2002

                                                                             TOE*             TOE/¤ million     * TOE: Tonnes of Oil Equivalent
10        Ireland’s Environment

     the longer term; the average size of     (Figure 1.16), and in the Baltic and        landings of finfish and shellfish.
     the national herd in the 1990–2002       Central European accession States           Landings of these fish have declined
     period has increased by 6, 54, 33 and    (Eurostat, 2002). Among the potential       since the mid-1990s (Figure 1.19)
     71 per cent, respectively, in the case   environmental problems arising from         while those of demersal fish have
     of cattle, pigs, poultry and sheep       this situation, the methane produced        remained relatively stable. Shellfish
     compared to the 1980–1989 period         by the ruminants has significant            landings, in contrast, show an
     (see also Chapter 7).                    implications for Ireland’s greenhouse       upward trend in recent years. On a
                                              gas (GHG) emissions (see Chapter 14).       longer term basis, a comparison of
     Inputs of inorganic fertilisers have     In meat production per unit                 average annual landings in the past
     decreased in recent years (Figure        population (Figure 1.17), Ireland is        10 years with those in the previous
     1.15). In the case of nitrogen, there    exceeded only by Denmark of the EU          decade shows increases of 45 and 34
     was an 18 per cent reduction in sales    States (due to the large production of      per cent, respectively, for pelagic fish
     in 2002 compared to 1999, the year       pig meat there), while in the case of       and shellfish and a much smaller
     that saw the highest sales on record.    milk (Figure 1.18), the State again         increase (8.5 per cent) for demersal
     Average annual phosphorus sales in       stands out as the biggest producer in       fish. The sustainability of the levels of
     the five years to 2002 were 22 per       the Union in relation to population         exploitation of many fish stocks is in
     cent less than those in the preceding    size. It is not surprising therefore that   doubt (see Chapter 10).
     five years. This may be a response, in   Ireland’s agricultural production far
     part at least, to the Government’s                                                   Finfish and shellfish produced in
                                              exceeds its own needs for most
     counter-eutrophication strategy,                                                     aquaculture facilities amounted to
                                              commodities; for example, in 2002
     adopted in 1997, which was primarily                                                 some 63,000 tonnes in 2002, valued
                                              production of beef and butter was,
     aimed at reducing the input of                                                       at ¤117.4 million. Of the total
                                              respectively, 820 per cent and 1,016
     phosphorus to freshwaters (see                                                       production, shellfish accounted for
                                              per cent of national needs. In
     Chapter 12 for a detailed discussion                                                 about 60 per cent by weight but only
                                              contrast, self-sufficiency in cereals
     of this topic).                                                                      30 per cent of the value. Salmon
                                              was only 88 per cent in that year
                                                                                          dominated the finfish production,
     Despite the relatively small change      (DAF, 2003).
                                                                                          comprising over 90 per cent of this
     in production in the sector in recent                                                production by weight and accounting
     years, agriculture remains a more        Fisheries
                                                                                          for some 88 per cent of its value.
     significant contributor to the Irish     The total yield from fishing and
                                                                                          Overall, the value of the finfish and
     economy than it is to those of most      aquaculture in 2002 was valued at
                                                                                          shellfish produced in aquaculture
     other EU States. Primary agriculture     some ¤333 million, representing
                                                                                          facilities in 2002 amounted to over
     produce was estimated to contribute      less than 0.3 per cent of GDP (CSO,
                                                                                          35 per cent of the total value of the
     3 per cent of GDP in 2002, while the     2003c). While, therefore, the overall
                                                                                          output of the fishery sector in that
     broad agri-food sector’s contribution    contribution of the fisheries sector
                                                                                          year (CSO, 2003c).
     was estimated at 8.4 per cent            to the economy is small, the
     (Department of Agriculture and Food      employment that it provides in many
     (DAF), 2003). These proportions are      coastal communities is often a vital
                                                                                          Ireland has the smallest extent of
     significantly less than those            element in maintaining the viability
                                                                                          forest relative to land area among
     estimated five years ago (5.2 and 12.7   of such centres. Over the past 30
                                                                                          European States. However, the
     per cent, respectively) and are mainly   years, the traditional fishing of the
                                                                                          current cover of approximately 10 per
     due to the very large increase of        wild stocks has been complemented
                                                                                          cent represents a significant advance
     activity in some other areas of the      significantly and increasingly by the
                                                                                          over the position in the early years of
     economy.                                 development of finfish and shellfish
                                                                                          the last century, when the forested
     The production of cattle in proportion                                               area was reduced to as low as 1 per
     to the human population in Ireland       Pelagic fish, mainly herring, mackerel      cent of the State’s land. Much of the
     dwarfs that in the other 13 EU States    and horse mackerel, account for the         increase of cover has been achieved
     for which information is available       bulk of the total weight of the             only in the past 20 years, due to a
                                                                                          1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context                                        11

rapid increase of planting after 1980     figure 1.9 VOLUME INDICES OF PRODUCTION, ALL INDUSTRIES (1995 = 100)
(Figure 1.20). This reached a peak in     (SOURCE: CSO)
the 1991–1995 period when, on             300
average, an area of 19,000 hectares
was planted in each year, but fell        250

back to an annual average of some
14,500 hectares in the following five-
year period.                              150

The State undertook the bulk of the
planting of new forest for the greater
part of the last century. However, this      50
position changed rapidly in the late
1980s with the formation of a state               0
                                                       1990     1991      1992   1993    1994     1995    1996     1997   1998      1999     2000   2001    2002
company, Coillte Teo., to manage the
forests and the introduction of
financial inducements to promote
                                          figure 1.10 ANNUAL HOUSING COMPLETIONS 1995–2002, WITH MEAN FOR THE
private planting. The latter initiative
                                          1986–1994 PERIOD FOR COMPARISON (SOURCE: DEPARTMENT OF THE
proved very effective; of some            ENVIRONMENT, HERITAGE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (DEHLG))
170,000 hectares of new forest
planted in the ten years to 2000, 73
per cent was attributable to private      60,000
enterprises. Indeed, in several of
these years, the level of private
planting substantially exceeded the       40,000
highest ever achieved by the State.
By 2002, privately owned forest
accounted for some 40 per cent of         20,000
the total inventory, compared to 25
per cent in 1980. The Irish forestry
industry is heavily reliant on the use                0
                                                            Mean                  1995      1996         1997      1998      1999          2000     2001      2002
of exotic conifer species for timber                      1986-1994
production. However, recent policy
changes are aimed at increasing the
proportion of broadleaves planted
                                          figure 1.11 CONSUMPTION OF PERSONAL INCOME AT CONSTANT (1995) MARKET
(see Chapter 7).                          PRICES (EXCLUDING TAXES) (SOURCE: CSO)

Tourism                                               50,000

Tourism is an important and growing
component of the national economy
which, on the one hand, may provide
a stimulant to environmental                          30,000
                                          ¤ million

improvement and enhancement
while, on the other, having a                         20,000

potential to cause damage. The
current national policy on tourism                    10,000
stresses the need for development
in the sector that is, inter alia,                         0
                                                                   1995          1996           1997        1998          1999         2000          2001          2002*
12        Ireland’s Environment

     sustainable in relation to the            (European Opinion Research Group,         In view of earlier remarks regarding
     environment (see Chapter 11).             2002) suggests that people in Ireland     the purpose of reports such as this,
                                               are less concerned about pollution        it is interesting to note that the
     Overseas tourist visits to Ireland        and other forms of environmental          Eurobarometer survey indicates that
     increased to an estimated 6.1 million     degradation than those in most of         in the EU in general, public
     in 2003 – 1.5 times the resident          the other EU States. Thus, while, on      authorities are considered by only a
     population (Figure 1.21). In the past     average, 26 per cent of Irish people      small minority (less than 10 per cent)
     ten years, overseas tourist visits grew   indicated that they were ‘very            as a favourite source of information
     by over 82 per cent. Total tourism        worried’ about the environmental          on environmental matters.
     revenue was ¤4.95 billion in 2002,        problems put to them by the study         Surprisingly, non-government
     generating an overall gross national      questionnaire, the corresponding EU       organisations such as Greenpeace are
     product contribution of 4.4 per cent      mean was 34 per cent; at the other        also quoted by only a small fraction
     and supporting 8 per cent of jobs         end of the scale, the equivalent          of respondents as their main
     (Fáilte Ireland, 2003).                   proportion in Greece was 54 per cent      information source, despite such
                                               and in Luxembourg and Italy 44 per        organisations being clearly regarded
     Public Attitudes to                       cent. This difference may reflect, in     as the most trustworthy on
     the Environment                           part at least, higher levels in other     environmental issues. In Europe
     Environmental protection may often        States of forms of pollution,             generally and also in Ireland, by
     require policies and measures that        especially of air, which have a more      far the most common source of
     place financial or other unwelcome        immediate impact than others at a         information on the environment is
     demands on the public. From a             personal level.                           television, followed at some distance
     political point of view, therefore,                                                 by newspapers. It may be taken as
                                               In terms of rating the relative           some indication of a healthy
     the better informed the public is on
                                               importance of environmental               scepticism that the proportion of
     environmental matters and issues,
                                               problems, Irish people are, however,      respondents expressing trust in such
     the more likely it is that these
                                               generally of the same opinion as          programmes is less than a quarter of
     policies and measures will be
                                               those of other EU States and, along       that professing them to be their main
                                               with the latter, regard the threat from   source of information.
     If the numbers of articles and reports    nuclear activities as the matter of
     appearing in newspapers are taken as      greatest concern. In Ireland’s case,      A current national study of change
     indicators, environmental matters         this undoubtedly reflects the             in attitudes to environmental issues
     appear to be a major concern of the       detailed reporting in the media of        since the early 1990s (Kelly, 2003)
     Irish public. However, the acid test of   management failures or alleged            suggests that there has been a small
     public opinion might be said to come      failures at the Sellafield nuclear        increase in the level of acceptance
     at the times of national elections and    reprocessing plant in the UK. Tap         here of the concept of sustainability
     at such times environmental concerns      water received the next highest rating    and of the practices on which that is
     apart from very local issues, if voiced   for concern among Irish people,           based. For instance, there is a greater
     at all, come a long way behind            which is likely to be a response to the   involvement at personal level in
     matters such as access to education       reporting, or perhaps in some cases       recycling, which is clearly a welcome
     and health services. This apparent        direct experience, of contamination       development in view of the major
     contradiction may indicate that, in       problems in private water supplies        problem the State faces in dealing
     Ireland, the more widespread forms of     (see Chapters 3 and 16). Next in order    with the increasing generation of
     pollution or the potential for such are   of concern were chemical products,        waste (see Chapter 13). In addition,
     not perceived as an immediate threat      which is more difficult to explain in     there appears to be a greater
     to personal well-being.                   the Irish context; however the areas      readiness to accept scientific analyses
                                               following, air and river pollution,       of environmental issues. While this is
     It is not surprising, therefore, that a   have been reported on frequently in       offset by the relatively widespread
     recent Eurobarometer report on            recent years.                             lack of trust in Government and, in
     attitudes to the environment
                                                                                                   1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context                                                   13

particular, business as sources of        figure 1.12 REGISTRATIONS OF NEW PRIVATE CARS, 1993–2002 (SOURCE: DEHLG)
reliable information, there is a
continuing high level of support for
regulation by the State in the
environmental area. Again, while          200,000

there is little enthusiasm for a cut
in living standards as a means            150,000

of reducing pressure on the
environment, there is a good deal         100,000
of support for achieving the latter
by paying higher prices for goods            50,000
and services.
Overall, there appears to be a greater                               1993    1994         1995          1996       1997            1998          1999          2000       2001       2002

awareness now of environmental
issues than there was 10 or 20 years
ago, although in many cases this is       figure 1.13 EXTENT OF MOTORWAY DEVELOPMENT AND CAR OWNERSHIP IN THE
mainly to do with local situations        EU STATES (IRELAND 2002 DATA; OTHERS 1999 DATA) (SOURCES: DEHLG;
and, at times, the attitudes adopted      EUROSTAT, 2002; NRA)
are less than objective. However, it is
surprising, and perhaps a sobering                                    Motorway Length/10000 km2
thought for the contributors to this      600                         Cars/1000 persons
and similar reports, that, when asked
for an opinion on the relationship
between human activity and the            400
environment, 41 per cent of the Irish
respondents in the Eurobarometer
survey were unable, or perhaps            200
reluctant, to express a view. This was
10 times greater than the mean for
this response among all of the EU                     0




















States. In addition, Irish respondents













were the least convinced of the
proposition that human activity can
lead to irretrievable damage to the
                                          figure 1.14 LIVESTOCK NUMBERS 1990–2002 (SOURCE: CSO)
environment, only 23 per cent
agreeing compared to the EU mean
of 44 per cent. Again, this suggests
that Irish people as a whole take a
less pessimistic view of the threat                   12,000
to the environment than other
Europeans, a position that may arise

from the generally low levels of
pollution experienced to date in
the State.                                                4,000

                                                                      1990   1991     1992       1993     1994     1995          1996     1997      1998        1999     2000    2001   2002

                                                                                    Total Cattle               Total Pigs                 Total Poultry                Total Sheep
14        Ireland’s Environment

     Regulatory and Other                     involved and the methods of dealing      International Developments
     Policy Developments                      with waste. Public authority
                                              activities, such as sewage treatment,    Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change
     General Remarks                          may also be problematic unless there     Climate change has continued to
     Rapid economic development, such         is provision for regulation by other     dominate environmental concerns at
     as that described above for Ireland,     State agencies. Furthermore, the         international level since 2000 (see
     brings with it an increased potential    deterrent effect of enforcement          Chapter 14). The main matter of note
     for environmental pollution and          activities may be lessened and public    in this connection is the failure to
     disruption. The extent to which          derision invited if the courts are       date to achieve the required level of
     this potential is curtailed or negated   reluctant, or appear to be reluctant,    ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol
     is largely dependent on the              to apply the full penalties provided     under the UN Framework Convention
     preparedness and ability of              for infringements.                       on Climate Change. To become
     Governments and their specialised                                                 operative, the protocol, which is
                                              In Ireland, the need for more            the first attempt to reduce GHG
     agencies to regulate or prevent
                                              effective enforcement of                 emissions in a concerted fashion at
     those activities that give rise to
                                              environmental regulation has             international level, must be ratified
     environmental damage. It is probably
                                              been addressed recently through          by at least 55 per cent of the
     fair to say that in Europe and other
                                              additional legislation (see below).      signatory states, representing in turn
     developed parts of the world, there is
                                              Along with this, a dedicated Office      at least 55 per cent of their combined
     now a full acceptance at government
                                              of Environmental Enforcement has         emissions of carbon dioxide in 1990.
     level of the need for environmental
                                              been established within the EPA to       The first of these targets has been
     regulation and that, as a
                                              concentrate on the enforcement of        reached but not the second; this is
     consequence, legal and other
                                              Integrated Pollution Prevention and      largely due to the fact that neither
     means of achieving this have grown
                                              Control and Waste licensing in           the USA nor Russia, which in
     concomitantly with economic
                                              relation to relevant industries and      combination were responsible for
     development in recent years. At
                                              local authorities and to oversee the     over 50 per cent of the emissions of
     international and national levels
                                              other environmental control activities   the gas in 1990, have ratified the
     there is now a wide range of powers
                                              of the local authorities. This is a      protocol. While the US has now
     and agreements in place which, at
                                              government response to a perceived       departed from the process, it is
     minimum, provides a framework for
                                              public impression that the local         expected that Russia will ratify
     the proper management of the
                                              authorities in particular have been      eventually and this will have the
                                              less than diligent in their              effect of meeting the second criterion
     The efficacy of these provisions is      enforcement of and adherence             for overall ratification.
     wholly dependent on the extent to        to good environmental practices.
     which they are enforced; as in many                                               Ireland ratified the protocol in May
                                              A short review is given below of the     2002, but a national strategy for
     other areas of regulation, this is the
                                              major developments in the sphere of      achieving the targets set for the State
     aspect that is often in default,
                                              environmental regulation in recent       in the agreement (restricting the
     whether through lack of resources on
                                              years at international and national      increase over the 1990 emissions
     the part of the enforcement agencies
                                              level. More detailed comment is          level of GHGs to 13 per cent by the
     or, in some cases, through less than
                                              provided in the individual chapters.     2008–2012 period) was established in
     wholehearted political support. In
                                              As mentioned earlier, much of the        2000 (Department of the Environment
     addition, enforcement activities may
                                              national legislation aimed at the        and Local Government (DELG), 2000).
     be more difficult to implement in
                                              protection of the environment            A progress report on the first year of
     some sectors than in others; for
                                              derives directly or indirectly from      implementation has been published
     example, the control of pollution
                                              international agreements, in             (DELG, 2002a), and a review of the
     from farming activities presents
                                              particular those made among the          strategy is currently in train.
     problems because of the large
                                              EU States.
     number of individual enterprises
                                                                                       In the meantime, the EU has moved
                                                                                                                                  1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context                                                                                                        15

to give effect to some of the special      figure 1.15 FERTILISER SALES 1981–2002 (SOURCE: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
mechanisms available under the             FOOD AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT)
protocol to deal with the reduction                                  500
of GHG emissions, in particular the                                                              Phosphorus
provision for trading of emission                                                                Potassium
allowances. This approach, which is
available only to specified industrial

                                           Tonnes (000s)
activities and power generators and
initially relates only to emissions of
carbon dioxide, will be regulated
under the EU Directive on emissions
trading adopted in 2003 (European
Parliament (EP) and Council of the
European Union (CEU), 2003). In July                                       1981                       1984                   1987                        1990                        1993                          1996                       1999                      2002
2003, the EPA was assigned the role
of implementing the Directive in
Ireland and the Agency has now
                                           figure 1.16 CATTLE PRODUCTION 2002 IN 14 EU STATES COMPARED WITH HUMAN
established an Emissions Trading Unit
                                           POPULATION (SOURCE: ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, 2003)
for this purpose. The first task of the
unit was to prepare, by the end of                                   1,800
March 2004, a national allocation                                    1,600
plan for the equitable distribution of                               1,400
                                           Nos cattle/1000 persons

emission allowances; additional tasks
are to verify emissions and to oversee

UN and EU Agreements on                                               600
Acidification                                                         400
The 1999 Gothenburg protocol to the                                   200
UNECE Convention on Long-range                                             0
                                                                                       ly           l                         y                                                      ds
Transboundary Air Pollution requires                                                Ita          ga          ain            an            UK        ed
                                                                                                                                                       en         lan
                                                                                                                                                                                 an             str
                                                                                                                                                                                                    ia             um            nc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    e            ark         ou
                                                                                              rtu        Sp          rm                          Sw            Fin            erl             Au                lgi          Fra              nm        mb             Ire
                                                                                            Po                     Ge                                                    th                                   Be                        De             e
the signatory parties to reduce their                                                                                                                                 Ne                                                                           Lux

national emissions of sulphur dioxide
and nitrogen oxides to levels which,
on the basis of modelling, have been       figure 1.17 BEEF AND PIG MEAT PRODUCTION IN THE EU STATES, 2000,
predicted as necessary to minimise         COMPARED WITH HUMAN POPULATION (SOURCE: EUROSTAT, 2002)

the extent of acidification of soils and                             400
waters in Europe. The protocol is also
intended to counteract nitrogen
enrichment of ecosystems (ammonia                                    300
                                           tonnes/1000 persons

limits are set in addition to those for
nitrogen oxides) and to lessen the
potential for ozone formation at
ground level by requiring reduction in
the emissions of volatile organic                                    100
compounds. A corresponding EU
Directive was adopted in 2001 (EP and
CEU, 2001); the emission ‘ceilings’                                              ce            UK ourg        ga
                                                                                                                        l            ly        en           d
                                                                                                                                                                                          e              ia           ain          um          nd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   s          d          ark
                                                                               ee                         rtu                     Ita       ed           lan                                       str             Sp         lgi                          lan
                                                                           Gr                        b
                                                                                                       Po                                 Sw          Fin            rm             Fra        Au                           Be            erla         Ire            nm
                                                                                                  em                                                            Ge                                                                    eth                         De
                                                                                             L ux                                                                                                                                   N
16        Ireland’s Environment

     specified by the Directive for the EU    Directives. A further Directive is being   waters by 2015. Good quality in this
     as a whole are only marginally           discussed to cover the remaining           context is a situation in which
     different to those in the protocol,      substances listed in 1996, namely the      biological and/or chemical
     except for sulphur dioxide, where the    metals arsenic, cadmium, mercury           characteristics show only minor
     target is 5 per cent lower than the      and nickel as well as polyaromatic         differences compared to the natural
     UN target. In the case of Ireland, the   hydrocarbons (PAHs). In addition to        state. While there is provision for less
     emission ceilings in the two             setting limits for these substances,       demanding targets in the case of
     provisions are identical.                the Directives also require monitoring     waters that have been irreversibly
                                              of pollutant levels, the making of air     modified, the achievement of the
     The emission ceilings require            quality management plans and the           quality goals of the Directive are
     substantial reductions of the current    establishment of public information        likely to prove extremely difficult if
     emission levels, of sulphur dioxide      systems.                                   not impossible in many situations. In
     and nitrogen oxides in particular, in                                               addition to the quality target, the
     most of the EU Member States,            National regulations giving effect to      Directive promotes inter alia the
     including Ireland (see Chapter 15).      the first two daughter Directives were     sustainable use of water resources
     Under the Directive, national            adopted in 2002 (Minister for the          and the elimination of the discharge
     programmes setting out measures          Environment and Local Government,          of hazardous substances.
     to achieve the reductions required       2002) and those covering ozone were
     were to have been in place by            expected in early 2004. The EPA has        The Directive requires that waters be
     October 2002. This deadline was not      been designated as the competent           managed as hydrological units, i.e. as
     achieved in Ireland; however, a          authority for the implementation of        individual river catchments or groups
     discussion document on a strategy to     the framework and daughter                 of contiguous catchments, termed
     meet the emission targets was issued     Directives. Activity to date (see          River Basin Districts (RBDs). The main
     by the government in mid-2003            Chapter 2) has concentrated mainly         duties of the RBDs are to draw up
     (DEHLG, 2003) and the responses are      on the development of monitoring           management plans and to prepare
     currently being considered in the        networks, and the assistance of the        programmes of the measures
     formulation of the national              local authorities has been sought to       considered necessary to achieve the
     programme.                               this end. In addition, improvement of      quality and other goals of the
                                              the access of the public to monitoring     Directive. Member States must
     Air Quality Directives                   data and other information, as             identify competent authorities to
     The 1996 EU Directive on ambient air     required by the Directives, is in          apply the rules of the Directive in
     quality assessment and measurement       hand, including the displaying on          each RBD and in regard to other
     (CEU, 1996a) introduced a new            the EPA website of near real-time          aspects of the Directive. There is a
     framework for the management of          measurements from automatic                very specific requirement that the
     air quality in the Member States         monitoring instruments located             public be consulted in the
     and in particular provided for the       around the State.                          implementation of the Directive,
     establishment of limit values and                                                   in particular the preparation of
     alert levels for air pollutants.         Water Framework Directive                  management plans and
     Daughter Directives adopted in 1999,     Management of water quality in the         programmes of measures. A website
     2000 and 2002 (CEU, 1999; EP and         EU was placed on a new and more            ( has been
     CEU, 2000b, 2002a) have made             comprehensive footing by the               established by the DEHLG to provide
     specific provision in this context for   adoption, in late 2000, of the             information to the public on the
     sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide,       Directive establishing a framework         background and aims of the Directive.
     lead, particulate matter, carbon         for Community action in the field of
                                                                                         The Directive was adopted in Ireland
     monoxide, benzene and ozone. The         water policy (EP and CEU, 2000a).
                                                                                         under Regulations made in December
     limits set for sulphur dioxide and       The Directive is very ambitious in
                                                                                         2003 (Minister for the Environment,
     nitrogen dioxide are more stringent      its intent, calling as it does for the
                                                                                         Heritage and Local Government,
     than those set under earlier             attainment of good quality in all
                                                                                         2003). A total of seven RBDs have
                                                                                                                     1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context                                                                                         17

been identified, four (Eastern, South     figure 1.18 COLLECTION OF COW’S MILK IN THE EU STATES, 2000, COMPARED
Eastern, South Western and Western)       WITH HUMAN POPULATION (SOURCE: EUROSTAT, 2002)
wholly within the State and three                               1,600
(North Western, Neagh-Bann and                                  1,400
Shannon) shared with Northern

                                          tonnes/1000 persons
Ireland. The Shannon has been
designated a cross-border river basin                           1,000
district due for the most part to the                             800
fact that groundwater draining from
a small area within N. Ireland
contributes to the headwaters of the                              400

river. The competent authorities                                  200
identified are the local authorities in
                                                                     0                                          l                                                                                                       s
the case of the RBDs and the EPA for                                          ece       ain       ly        ga             UK        um          ia         an
                                                                                                                                                              y          en      nc
                                                                                                                                                                                    e             d      urg         nd          ark           d
                                                                                      Sp       Ita       rtu                      lgi         str                   ed                      lan                                            lan
                                                                         Gre                           Po                       Be          Au        Ge
                                                                                                                                                        rm        Sw          Fra        Fin         mbo        e rla
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              nm        Ire
a number of technical aspects                                                                                                                                                                  Lu
                                                                                                                                                                                                  xe       Neth

including the formulation of
monitoring programmes. Other              figure 1.19 SEA FISH LANDINGS, INCLUDING LANDINGS AT FOREIGN PORTS
                                          (SOURCE: CSO, 2003c)
public authorities identified in the
regulations are required to exercise                            400,000
their functions in a manner that is                             350,000
consistent with the aims of the
Directive. The regulations also give
powers to the EPA to specify the                                250,000

public authorities by which the                                 200,000
monitoring programmes required
under the Directive will be
undertaken.                                                     100,000

The initial implementation of the
Directive in each RBD area is being                                                 1993       1994                 1995             1996             1997             1998             1999             2000               2001              2002

supported by consultancy studies                                                                               Total Catch                                 Finfish Demersal                              Shellfish
                                                                                                               Total Finfish                               Finfish Pelagic
working under the guidance of the
                                                                              Note: Oysters and clams are excluded for all years and farmed mussels from 1990.
relevant local authorities. This work
commenced in 2002 in the case of the
South Eastern, and in the Shannon         figure 1.20 TOTAL FORESTED AND WOODED AREA BETWEEN 1900 AND 2000,
expected that the remaining RBDs          PERIODS BETWEEN 1961 AND 2000 (SOURCE: FOREST SERVICE)
(including the cross-border basins)
                                                                             61-65            66-70                  71-75                76-80                  81-85              86-90                  91-95                 96-00
will be implemented in 2004. In           700,000                                                                                                                                                                                                  20,000
addition to the RBD implementation,                                                                                                                                                                                                                18,000
a considerable amount of work has                                                                                                                                                                                                                  16,000
been undertaken since 2000 by other       500,000                                                                                                                                                                                                  14,000
bodies, particularly the EPA and the                                                                                                                                                                                                               12,000
Geological Survey of Ireland, to
generate information on specific,         300,000
technical aspects of the Directive.
                                          200,000                                                                                                                                                                                                  6,000
                                                                 0                                                                                                                                                                                 0
                                                                             1900             1920                  1950                  1970                   1980               1990                   1999                  2000

                                                                               Total Area, ha                                   5-year mean area planted, ha
18         Ireland’s Environment

     EU Environmental Action                 the regulation of the use of chemicals    licensing provisions in the
     Programme                               in the EU. The potentially adverse        Environmental Protection Agency Act
     The Union’s environmental action        effect of certain chemicals on human      1992; these adjustments are
     programmes are intended to set          health and on ecosystems, for             relatively few as the 1992 Act
     medium- or long-term targets for        example the ability of some organic       anticipated the nature and scale of
     environmental protection and            compounds to interfere with               most of the activities covered by the
     improvement. They provide the           reproductive and hormonal functions       Directive. The general approach to
     policy framework in which specific      in animals, has been a growing            pollution control specified in the
     measures, such as Directives and        concern in recent years (EEA, 1999)       Directive is based on a requirement
     decisions, may be adopted. The sixth    and is highlighted as an area for         for BAT (Best Available Techniques)
     such programme was adopted by           action in the Union’s sixth               rather than BATNEEC (Best Available
     joint decision of the European          environmental action programme            Techniques not Entailing Excessive
     Parliament and the Council in July      (see above). It is estimated that there   Cost) as specified in the 1992 Act;
     2002 (EP and CEU, 2002b) and is         are some 30,000 chemicals in current      however, this change has already
     intended to cover the period up         use in the EU in amounts of 1 tonne       been anticipated by the EPA in more
     to 2012.                                or greater. The bulk of these have not    recent licensing decisions.
                                             been the subject of the type of
     The objectives in the programme are     evaluation now proposed.                  The Act also gives greater scope to
     focused on four environmental                                                     the Agency than before to set
     priorities:                             Following discussions and                 conditions in licences for atmospheric
                                             consultations, the Commission             emissions that contribute to
     ■   climate change;                     in October 2003 put forward a             transboundary pollution, thereby
     ■   nature and biodiversity;            proposal (Commission of the               assisting with the State’s
     ■   health and the quality of life;     European Communities, 2003) for           commitments under the UN
                                             a EU regulation giving effect to a        Gothenburg Protocol and Emission
     ■   natural resources and waste.
                                             scheme for the registration,              Ceilings Directive (see above). While
     In pursuance of these objectives,       evaluation, authorisation and             it does not treat GHGs as controllable
     the programme will promote the          restriction of chemicals (REACH) as       pollutants, the Act gives the Agency
     precautionary and ‘polluter pays’       well as an agency to oversee the          discretion in licensing to require
     principles as well as encouraging       implementation of the scheme. The         measures aimed at minimising the
     sustainable production and              new regulation is intended to replace     release of such substances. A further
     consumption patterns so that there is   all of the approximately 40 existing      change provides for the incorporation
     a decoupling of economic growth and     regulations and Directives in this        of the requirements of the EU
     the use of natural resources. It also   area. Currently, debate on the            Groundwater Directive into the
     calls for the full implementation of    proposal is continuing at European        licensing system.
     existing EU laws and the integration    Parliament level (see Chapter 18).
                                                                                       The 2003 Act also amends the Waste
     of environmental considerations into
                                                                                       Management Act of 1996 to bring it
     other policy areas. The decision        National Developments
                                                                                       into line with the IPPC Directive and
     provides for the monitoring of
                                             Protection of the Environment             makes clear that where activities
     progress on attaining the objectives
                                             Act 2003                                  involving waste handling are
     of the programme using a
                                             The main purpose of this Act              undertaken in a facility subject to
     comprehensive set of indicators.
                                             (Oireachtas, 2003) is to incorporate      IPPC licensing, a licence under one or
                                             into Irish law the provisions of the      other of the Acts, but not both, is
     EU REACH Proposal on Chemicals
                                             EU Directive on Integrated Pollution      required. The amendments also give
     In February 2001, following a review                                              explicit powers to local authorities to
                                             Prevention and Control (IPPC) (CEU,
     of the existing position, the                                                     make charges for waste services and
                                             1996b). The Directive requires
     Commission initiated a discussion                                                 to withdraw such services in cases of
                                             adjustments to the scope of the
     aimed at an improved approach to                                                  non-payment. Amendments to the
                                                                                                  1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context                19

Litter Pollution Act of 1997 include        figure 1.21 ANNUAL NUMBERS OF OVERSEAS VISITORS TO IRELAND
increased fines for offences under the      1983–2003 (SOURCE: FÁILTE IRELAND)
Act and wider powers for local
authorities to make anti-litter by-laws                             7,000
and to restrict the placing of
advertising material in public places.                              6,000


                                            Thousands of visitors
National Spatial Strategy
A national strategy for the promotion
of greater regional balance in the                                  3,000
development of the State was
published in November 2002 (DEHLG,
2002). The strategy, which fulfils a                                1,000
commitment made in the National
                                                                            1983    1985   1987   1989   1991   1993   1995   1997   1999   2001   2003*
Development Plan 2000–2006,
designates national ‘gateway’ and                                           * estimated

regional ‘hub’ cities and towns as
key centres for economic and social
development as well as for service
and amenity functions. As has been
pointed out above, the rapid growth
of the Dublin metropolitan area is
threatening to impart a serious
imbalance to the population
distribution in the State, with
implications in turn for the distribution
of industrial and other commercial
activities. The strategy is intended to
moderate this trend, and those bodies
responsible for regional and local
planning decisions as well as national
policy will be expected to align their
actions with its provisions over the
next 20 years. (See Chapter 5.)

Sustainable Development
The concept of sustainable
development was endorsed at the UN
Conference on the Environment in
1992 and a special programme,
Agenda 21, was adopted to promote
the approach. Implementation of
sustainable development requires
that the protection and conservation
of the environment and its natural
resources be taken into consideration
in all decisions in the economic and
social spheres. In this way, the use of
20        Ireland’s Environment

     resources and the production of           quality of life for all citizens.         enormously over the past 30 years,
     waste are minimised and damage to                                                   as evidenced by the many specialised
                                               Translating these ideals into day-to-
     ecosystems is avoided.                                                              scientific journals devoted to the
                                               day practice is likely to require some
                                                                                         results of experimental and
     As a response to the UN initiative,       compromises. Thus, for instance,
                                                                                         observational studies on
     the Government, in 1997, published        there is little practicable alternative
                                                                                         environmental matters. In Europe,
     a national strategy for sustainable       at present, on both economic and
                                                                                         this process has been greatly
     development (Department of the            technological grounds, to the
                                                                                         enhanced since the early 1970s by a
     Environment, 1997); in pursuance of       discharge of treated liquid waste to
                                                                                         series of EU-funded environmental
     this, a number of commitments were        waters and of gaseous and other
                                                                                         research programmes which have
     made in relation to the various           emissions to the atmosphere.
                                                                                         fostered a wide range of
     economic sectors and to                   However, in permitting the release
                                                                                         investigations on the effects
     environmental quality. The strategy       of potential pollutants, regulatory
                                                                                         of pollution at national and,
     has been reviewed recently (DELG,         authorities must take account of the
                                                                                         increasingly in recent years,
     2002b) in the context of the State’s      carrying capacity of the environment,
                                                                                         at multinational level.
     contribution to the UN World Summit       i.e. the extent to which it can dilute
     on Sustainable Development held in        or otherwise absorb the pollutants        In Ireland, the investment in
     Johannesburg in 2002, which marked        without causing harm to human             environmental research, while small
     the tenth anniversary of the original     health or to the integrity of             in an international context, has
     declaration. It was concluded in the      ecosystems. Decisions of this type are    grown considerably over the past 10
     review that the State had made            perforce based on the current state of    years. Between 1994 and 1999, the
     significant progress since 1992 in        knowledge and must be subject to          EPA managed a dedicated research
     adopting the principles of sustainable    review as the outcome of research         programme funded under the
     development by putting in place the       and other information becomes             Operational Programme for
     elements of good environmental            available. Where there is a doubt         Environmental Services of the
     management in addition to a range         about the consequences of any             Department of the Environment.
     of specific measures to improve or        activity for the environment, it is now   This provided funding of some £2.5
     protect environmental quality.            expected that regulators base their       million which, with contributions
                                               decisions on the more pessimistic         from participants, led to a total
     In 1999 the government established        evaluations, i.e. they should exercise    investment of some £5 million. More
     Comhar, the National Sustainable          the precautionary principle. This         recently, the Government’s National
     Development Partnership, as a forum       approach and the sustainability           Development Plan of 2000 provided
     for consultation and debate on the        principle have been incorporated in       ¤32 million for environmental
     topic, with the aim of promoting a        the Environmental Protection Agency       research in the period 2000–2006,
     national consensus on the adoption        Acts 1992 and 2003.                       representing a considerable advance
     of the concept of sustainable                                                       on the earlier funding; with
     development in the State. In 2002,                                                  contributions from participants, it is
     Comhar published a document               Research                                  estimated that the total spend on the
     (Comhar, 2002) setting out a number                                                 new programme will be of the order
                                               Decisions on the measures needed to
     of principles as the foundation for the                                             of ¤45 million.
                                               prevent pollution and maintain the
     implementation of sustainable
                                               integrity of ecosystems require an
     development policies. These include                                                 The main areas of research in the two
                                               understanding of the potential
     the minimisation of the use of non-                                                 programmes have been the problems
                                               impact of human activities such as
     renewable resources and of the                                                      highlighted in previous state of the
                                               the emission of waste to waters and
     generation of hazardous and                                                         environment reports, including
                                               the atmosphere. Achievement of this
     polluting wastes, the improvement                                                   eutrophication of freshwaters,
                                               understanding depends to a large
     of the quality of soils and water                                                   climate change and waste
                                               extent on the results of dedicated
     resources and, through social                                                       management. In addition to research
                                               research. Such research has grown
     inclusion, ensuring an improved                                                     topics per se, the programmes have
                                                                        1 Introduction and Socio-economic Context          21

funded pilot projects on clean           that its relative economic               Structure of the Report
technology in industries and have        performance now surpasses that of
                                                                                  The body of the report following is
provided fellowships for doctoral        most of the other EU States. While
                                                                                  divided into three main sections.
students undertaking research on         this is a very welcome development,
                                                                                  In a variation of the DPSIR approach
environmental themes. The new            it brings with it a greatly increased
                                                                                  referred to earlier, the first section
programme has also funded a Centre       potential for environmental damage,
                                                                                  gives the current information on the
of Excellence in the EPA which is        for example through increased use of
                                                                                  state of the main environmental
undertaking detailed studies on          fossil fuels, intensification of
                                                                                  media, dealing in turn with air
topics such as climate change,           agriculture and the production of
                                                                                  quality and fresh and tidal water
transboundary air pollution and          waste. Some of this potential has
                                                                                  quality, and then gives the position
water quality. Results of the various    already been realised, especially in
                                                                                  regarding the terrestrial sphere in
programmes were presented at a           relation to water pollution. However,
                                                                                  general and natural heritage and
major conference (Pathways to a          membership of the Union has also
                                                                                  biodiversity. In the next section, an
Sustainable Future) organised by the     meant that the State is required to
                                                                                  account is presented of the
EPA in Dublin in 2003, which afforded    adhere to the standards and the
                                                                                  environmental pressures, and the
an opportunity for an exchange of        strictures set out in the various
                                                                                  responses to these pressures,
views between Irish scientists           Directives on the environment issued
                                                                                  generated by each of the socio-
carrying out research on the             by the Union since the early 1970s.
                                                                                  economic sectors, including
environment.                             While there have been and continue
                                                                                  agriculture and forestry, industry,
                                         to be problems for the State in
Conclusions                                                                       energy and services, transport,
                                         complying fully with these rules,
                                                                                  fisheries, the domestic area and
The protection of the environment is     there is little doubt that they have
                                                                                  tourism. The third section provides
now generally accepted as a matter       been very influential, as they have in
                                                                                  discussions on the main
to be considered in socio-economic       all Member States, in establishing
                                                                                  environmental issues identified on
planning and development. In many        comprehensive controls to mitigate
                                                                                  the basis of the previous two sections
cases this position has been forced on   environmental damage arising from
                                                                                  and examines the policy changes
Governments by the extent of             economic development. Recognition
                                                                                  needed to bring about the improved
environmental deterioration already      of the need for such controls is an
                                                                                  level of environmental protection
experienced and the implications this    integral part of the current National
                                                                                  required. A final chapter provides a
has for human well-being. In the         Development Plan (2000–2006),
                                                                                  general overview of the situation and
European Union, the early inclusion      which incorporates a pilot eco-audit
                                                                                  looks to the future.
of environmental matters in              approach to decisions on investment
Community policy-making has been a       policy.
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