Doing business in Ireland: Environmental rules23 April 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 23 April 2012
Businesses in Ireland must comply with certain European and national laws to lessen their environmental footprint. The areas covered by these laws include waste management and chemicals.
The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government develops policy, regulates environmental quality and maintains information on the legal and procedural obligations relating to environmental control.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibilities for a wide range of licensing, enforcement, monitoring and assessment activities associated with environmental protection.
Local authorities, such as city and county councils, also are a key player in environmental control and pollution control with a particular responsibility in the planning and licensing process.
Local authorities such as city and county councils are responsible for planning applications. The main instrument for regulation and control of development is the Development Plan, drawn up by the local planning authority.
The responsibility for the regulation of waste in Ireland is divided between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the local authorities. The county and city councils have the responsibility for collection of most household waste and most of the landfill infrastructure.
The EPA grants licences for certain activities in the waste sector including landfills, transfer stations and hazardous waste disposal.
The EU's Regulation on Chemicals or REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) came into force in 2007.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has been appointed as the Competent Authority for REACH in Ireland. The HSA maintains a dedicated Helpdesk and has information on-line on the REACH regulation.
The Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977-1990 and the EU's Water Framework Directive (2000) regulate pollution control in this area. Certain specified and larger-scale activities will require an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licence under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992.
Climate and air
Atmospheric emissions by industry above certain thresholds or in certain sectors require a licence under the Air Pollution Act 1987. Certain specified and larger-scale activities will require an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licence under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992.
Ireland is also undertaking a National Climate Change Strategy, which has an impact on business.
Legislation relating to the control of environmental noise is contained in the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 and Environmental Noise Regulations 2006. Noise emission from certain large scale industrial facilities may be subject to licensing or planning conditions. There is also separate legislation applying to "occupational noise" in the workplace.
Ireland is opposed to the use of nuclear energy as the environmental, health and safety risks and impacts are believed to outweigh any perceived benefits of this industry.
Persons engaged in the production, import, and export of specified materials used in the nuclear industry are required to provide specified information to the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII). In addition, if you are an exporter of military or dual-use goods, you may require an export licence from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protects the environment through its licensing, enforcement and monitoring activities. The Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) within the Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to the implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation in Ireland.
Local authorities also play a key role in relation to inspections involved in the planning process for land development, pollution control and licensing.
Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum environmental legal requirements at their own initiative.
Declaratory procedures, permits and licences
Your business may require an individual licence for any emissions to the water and air in order to comply with specific environmental Acts. These can be obtained from the local authority or in some cases the EPA.
Large-scale industrial undertakings in particular may require an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licence, the aim of which is to prevent or reduce emissions to air, water and land, to reduce waste, and use energy and resources efficiently. IPPC licences are issued by the EPA.
An IPPC licence must be obtained prior to starting an activity and certain categories of industry are subject to thresholds. If an activity is operating below a threshold and it is expected that the threshold will be exceeded then it will be necessary to obtain an IPPC licence prior to exceeding the threshold.
Generally, planning permission is required for any development of land or property, unless the development is specifically exempted from this need. You obtain the permission from the planning authority for your area i.e. your local County Council, City Council, Borough Council or Town Council.
Certain developments must be assessed for likely environmental effects before planning permission can be granted.
Licences for commercial waste collection and disposal are obtained from the local authorities in your area. The EPA also issues licences for waste management depending on the scale and type of the activity. Both the local authorities and the EPA are responsible for enforcement with the EPA carrying out a supervisory role in relation to the local authorities.
If you require a waste licence, you must follow a series of steps including notifying the planning authority and the public, and submitting an application.
There are specific rules for the transport of hazardous waste.
The manufacture, importation, distribution and use of chemicals are regulated by the REACH legislation. REACH requires registration (unless explicitly exempted) of substances with the European Chemicals Agency that are manufactured or imported into the EU at 1 Tonne or more per year.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has been appointed as the Competent Authority for REACH in Ireland.
For industry, a discharge of wastewater (effluent) to waters (river, stream, lake, estuary etc. and groundwater) or to a municipal sewer can only take place if it is licensed. Such licences are issued by the local authority concerned. An IPPC licence may be required from the EPA for larger-scale operations.
Climate and air
Licences for air emissions are obtained from the local authority. An IPPC licence may be required from the EPA for larger-scale operations.
A National Climate Change Strategy is in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses are being encouraged to use energy more efficiently.
An emission s -trading scheme for greenhouse gases is in force and is monitored by the EPA.
Noise emissions from business facilities may be subject to licensing and checks by either the local authorities or the EPA.
The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) regulates the provision, use and disposal of radioactive substances employed in the health sector, industry and education. By law, all practices which use radioactive sources and/or irradiating apparatus (such as an X-ray unit) must hold a valid licence from the RPII, unless they have been exempted.
In addition, if you are an exporter of military or dual-use goods, you may require an export licence from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Enterprise Ireland aims to raise environmental awareness among Ireland's business community. It addresses mainly small and medium-sized companies.
The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government supports a general website with information on the environment.
Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) is the Irish national energy agency. It can provide information to business on energy efficiency.
The BASIS website provides information to business on environmental laws and covers the following areas:
- health services;
- impact assessment;
- hazardous materials;
- waste management.
Funding opportunities are available with a number of bodies - including:
Source: Your Europe