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The urgency to find ways to preserve our environment renewable energy sources

A Partnership Approach While our Vision is an ambitious strategy that will contribute positively to the sustainable development of Ireland, we are very conscious that the EPA is not the sole organisation with environmental responsibilities. Achieving the longer term goals will not be possible without the active cooperation of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, local authorities, a range of public and private bodies with environmental responsibilities, environmental NGOs and individual citizens.

Part of our strategy over the next four years will be to engage with key organisations and individuals to achieve consensus on our Vision and build a cooperative approach towards closing the gaps identified. A key focus for us will be to inform policy-makers, stakeholders and the public on environmental issues and solutions, and to promote good environmental behaviour and standards.

How this Document is Structured Section 1 sets out a medium-term vision for the natural environment in the six key goal areas. Section 2 contains a shorter-term strategy for the EPA in — Section 3 details the organisational development that will deliver a high-performance EPA in — We will separately develop implementation plans that identify the specific tasks to be carried out under each goal, the timeframes involved and the people responsible.

Annual work programmes will be prepared that will allow every EPA employee to see how their work contributes to our overall strategy. The objectives set out in Vision will be pursued relentlessly, and adapted where necessary, with progress reported in our Annual Reports.

Environmental Goals - Timescale: Human-induced climate change is an urgent global issue and is the primary environmental challenge of this century. Increased levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide act to enhance the natural greenhouse effect and accelerate irreversible changes in the climate.

What is distinctive about the current period of global warming, compared to previous cycles of climate change, is the extent and rate of change, which exceeds natural variation. The impacts of climate change present very serious global risks and threaten the basic components of life, including health, access to water, food production and the use of land.

As the earth gets warmer the damage from climate change will accelerate. The global average temperature has risen by 0.

  1. Large numbers of countries both industrial and developing are already adopting such policies.
  2. Continue to inform the public on waste and waste management issues by providing comprehensive web-based resources.
  3. Former waste disposal sites and worked-out mining sites must be identified and plans put in place to remediate these.
  4. Similarly, information on soils and soil quality is currently disparate, incomplete and not readily available to policy-makers. EPA Regulatory Processes Some submissions stressed the need for a reduction in the administrative burden on those regulated by the EPA and to ensure that there is transparent, consistent and fair regulation to meet the needs of modern companies.
  5. Maintaining the Momentum 89. Planning for sewerage and provision of drinking water must be better linked to physical planning and development to cater for projected increases in usage.

Research has shown that the potential effects of climate change in Ireland include greater risks of coastal flooding due to sea-level rises and storm surges; water shortages; more intense rainfall events; and impacts on agriculture and biodiversity. Greenhouse gas emissions arise from a range of sources including transport, energy production, agriculture and industrial processes. In Ireland, while agriculture is the largest source, transport is by far the fastest growing sector, with emissions more than double what they were in Irish per capita emissions of greenhouse gases remain among the highest in Europe.

Under the Kyoto Agreement, Ireland has committed to limiting the increase of greenhouse gases to 13 per cent above its levels: Current levels of Irish greenhouse gas emissions are more than 25 per cent above levels. For the period beyondthe EU Council of Ministers has recently committed to achieving at least a 20 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions bycompared to levels.

The Council also agreed to extend this target to a 30 per cent reduction if other developed countries commit to comparable reductions. The National Climate Change Strategy has set a range of targets to be progressively attained by These include a target of 12 per cent renewable energy share in the heating sector; achieving a 10 per cent penetration of biofuels in road transport; achieving 33 per cent of electricity consumption from renewable energy sources; installing MW ocean energy capacity and achieving MW from combined heat and power.

The global long-term and insidious nature of climate change means that even if greenhouse gas levels were reduced now, some impacts would be unavoidable. There are risks particularly in relation to flooding, water resources, river basin management, agriculture and biodiversity. We need to plan now to adapt to these changes, reducing the adverse impacts of climate change.

Future reduction targets beyond that are to be set for Ireland, at EU and international level, must be met. The National Climate Change Strategy must be actively monitored and fully implemented. Transport including aviationenergy and spatial planning policies must take full account of climate change issues and greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy efficiency must be integral to industrial and commercial activities, transport and domestic life. Ireland needs to be at the forefront of adopting new approaches and low-carbon technologies that will work in the national context. At the most basic level, each of us is entitled to clean air and to know that the air we breathe is not going to cause us harm. Long-term exposure to air pollutants has impacts on health ranging from minor effects on the respiratory system to reduced lung function cardio-vascular disease, asthma, chronic bronchitis and reduced life expectancy.

On the other hand, improved air quality can have a positive impact on health.

  1. Climate change and energy A number of points were made in relation to changing government policy on energy use, transportation, electricity production and the promotion of renewable energy sources. Section 2 contains a shorter-term strategy for the EPA in —
  2. Prepare a code of practice for conducting environmental risk assessment of unauthorised closed waste sites and abandoned mines.
  3. The supply of large quantities of clean water to an ever-increasing population depends on the proper infrastructure being in place at the right time. In some rural areas groundwaters are an important source of drinking water.
  4. This requires profound structural changes in socio-economic and institutional arrangements and is an important challenge to global society.

The main air pollutants of concern include fine particulate matter PM10 and PM2. By international standards, air quality in Ireland is very good. Our relatively low-density towns and cities, geographical position and island status all contribute positively to this quality. The prevailing westerly winds are a huge advantage to Ireland, constantly renewing our supply of fresh air.

One of the key issues for Ireland is to reduce its emissions of four transboundary air pollutants sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and ammonia in line with its international commitments. These pollutants add to acidification and eutrophication of sensitive ecosystems across the European landmass, and can damage forests, rivers, lakes and other ecosystems as well as buildings and historical sites.

Emissions of particulate pollutants from road traffic, especially in urban areas, are the main threat to air quality in Ireland. Emissions from industrial and waste facilities, including power plants, can also contribute to poor air quality, as can emissions of ammonia from livestock manures and slurries.

Clean Energy Programs

The main issues at local level are environmental noise for example, from road traffic, industrial activities and construction sites and malodours from wastewater treatment plants and waste and industrial facilities. These can cause nuisance to those living near by, and can negatively affect living and working conditions. Ireland faces a significant challenge in meeting EU emission limits for air pollutants.

Meeting these targets is important from a compliance perspective, but we also wish to be good neighbours and show environmental leadership. The urgency to find ways to preserve our environment renewable energy sources must be in compliance with its international commitments on air quality and air emissions.

Industrial emissions of pollutants to air must be rigorously controlled. There must be a modal shift from the private car to high-quality public transport. Government departments, national agencies and local authorities must make air quality an integral part of their traffic management and planning processes. The links between health and air quality must be better communicated to raise awareness and understanding of this critical issue. The National Environmental Noise Regulation must be fully implemented and enforced.

Ireland has an abundant supply of fresh water, although this is not evenly distributed across the country. The quality of this resource is vital, as we depend on surface and groundwater sources for our drinking water. Water is also important as a habitat for freshwater and marine plants and animals and as an amenity for us to enjoy. Currently the water quality in approximately 70 per cent of our river channel, 90 per cent of lake area and 78 per cent of estuarine and coastal waters monitored is of satisfactory quality.

Of particular concern is the ongoing loss of high-status water quality sites in rivers and lakes. In some rural areas groundwaters are an important source of drinking water. However, there is still widespread contamination of groundwaters across the country, particularly in the southeast, with about 30 per cent of samples analysed showing bacterial contamination. Preventing groundwater contamination is vital as, once polluted, it can be extremely difficult to remediate.

Polluted bathing waters pose a risk to human health and the environment. The most widespread threat to the quality of our surface waters is the inputs of phosphorus and nitrogen above background levels. The principal sources of these nutrients are municipal sewage discharges and losses from agricultural activities. In addition, a significant proportion of private drinking water supplies are contaminated by bacteria. It is estimated that more than half of the surface water and groundwater bodies in Ireland are at risk of failing to meet EU water quality objectives.

Bringing water resources up to standard, eliminating contamination of drinking water supplies and implementing water conservation measures e. The provision of urban wastewater treatment for all inland receiving waters is also a major challenge. Access to clean drinking water is a strategic issue for public health. The supply of large quantities of clean water to an ever-increasing population depends on the proper infrastructure being in place at the right time. It follows that we need to begin to plan for future water usage and wastewater treatment needs, and to move beyond a system of catch-up infrastructure.

Public drinking water supplies and group water schemes must be in compliance with EU and national standards. Contamination of drinking waters must be eliminated. The EU Water Framework Directive must be fully complied with — river basin management plans must be in place by and the environmental objectives met by Discharges to surface waters and groundwaters must be controlled and incidences of pollution must be accurately traced back to their source and tackled.

The number of designated bathing water sites in Ireland inland and coastal should be increased from to at least sites.

2020 Vision - Protecting and Improving Ireland’s Environment

All designated bathing areas must comply with the new EU bathing water quality standards, when they come into force. Planning for sewerage and provision of drinking water must be better linked to physical planning and development to cater for projected increases in usage.

Pollution from sewage treatment plants must be eliminated. The public must have easier access to timely and targeted information on water.

The urgency to find ways to preserve our environment renewable energy sources

In Ireland we have many areas of outstanding natural beauty and a distinctive natural heritage. Our island status and geographical position at the edge of the European continent have given us habitats, ecosystems and wildlife species that are often scarce or absent across much of the rest of Europe and hence are of international importance.

These include wetlands, machairs, shingle beaches, coastal lagoons and a complete range of bog types. The country also has the largest populations of otters and freshwater crayfish in Europe, and one of only five known European populations of bottlenose dolphins.

The value of our landscape, soil and biodiversity needs to be fully appreciated by all. As well as having an intrinsic value to the country, it is also important from an economic perspective. For example, good soil quality is the foundation for successful farming activities and our tourism industry is very much dependent on the quality of the natural environment and landscape.

Many plants and animals are unable to adapt to changes in the environment brought about by human activities and are indicators of overall health of the environment. While some species are doing well, a number of native Irish species and their habitats are under threat from a variety of pressures, including intensification of agriculture, drainage of wetlands, climate change, forestry plantation, peat extraction, land clearance and the continuing spread of urban areas.

Other threats include the introduction of invasive species of plants and animals that can alter local habitats and communities, putting native species at risk. Ireland has significantly fewer contaminated land problems than most other heavily industrialised countries.

  • This is true of appliances for cooking, lighting and refrigeration, and space cooling and heating - needs that are growing rapidly in most countries and putting severe pressures on the available supply systems;
  • Prevention of waste provides the highest level of environmental protection, optimises the use of available resources and removes a potential source of pollution;
  • We will target our resources internally to deliver on our commitments, and we will report on progress in our annual reports;
  • Monitor facilities licensed by the EPA to check that they are in compliance with their licence conditions, and take action against those not in compliance;
  • This is true of appliances for cooking, lighting and refrigeration, and space cooling and heating - needs that are growing rapidly in most countries and putting severe pressures on the available supply systems;
  • Provide funding for environmental technologies to encourage their uptake in Ireland.

Where such problems arise, they are most commonly associated with old gasworks sites, former waste disposal sites and worked-out mining sites. In terms of biodiversity, we need to protect and manage what is important and special. The national biodiversity plan was published by the Government in and is beginning to be implemented.

However, while progress has been made in designating areas for nature protection and conservation, we are still behind the rest of Europe in terms of the percentage of our national territory designated. One of the main shortcomings in managing biodiversity is the lack of data and records to provide baseline and up-to-date information on distribution and abundance of species and on some habitats, particularly wetlands.