The coronavirus pandemic has affected many aspects of our day to day lives. Notably in 2020 there was a steep rise in the amount of environmental complaints related to factories and other industrial services in Ireland.
Rise in Complaints
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the environmental regulation of large industrial and waste activities, which it regulates through its licensing and enforcement regime. The EPA has reported that the amount of complaints it received rose by over 127% in 2020, including a dramatic rise in complaints relating to foul odours. The EPA has noted that this increase in complaints, may be down to the fact that there were more people in their communities on a continuous basis throughout the year.
In the "Industrial and Waste Licence Enforcement Summary Report 2020" which was published on 17 February 2021, the EPA highlighted the continued regulation of licensed facilities throughout the country despite the lockdown measures, with 1089 environmental inspections taking place across 468 different licensed sites. Over 200 remote compliance assessments were carried out using web based communications systems to assess compliance at licensed sites from April to December 2020.
Other inspections carried out by the EPA in 2020 included water, air and noise monitoring. "Odour nuisance" accounted for 13% of all inspections prompted by complaints by members of the public in 2020. These complaints peaked in April 2020 at 187, which had the highest monthly total of complaints received by the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) in recent years.
Of the inspections carried out by the EPA, 14% involved facilities on the National Priority Site List. The National Priority Site List is used to target the EPA's enforcement effort at the poorest performing sites in order to drive improvements in environmental compliance.
Tom Ryan, the Director of the EPA's Office of Environmental Enforcement, noted the importance of the EPA in enforcing industrial and waste licensed activities and noted that with complaints about local licensed facilities almost doubling, the role of the EPA has become even more important.
A link to the Environmental Protection Agency's Summary Report 2020 can be found here - Industrial and Waste Licence Enforcement Summary Report 2020
Written by Zoe Richardson and Ella Whyte
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