Ireland's ecological breaches high, says De Rossa


ENVIRONMENTAL RECORD:DESPITE HAVING just 1 per cent of the European Union’s population, Ireland accounts for 6 per cent of all EU environmental infringement cases being investigated by the European Commission, according to Proinsias De Rossa, Labour MEP for Dublin.

He said yesterday that Ireland had the third highest number of infringements under investigation (54) after Spain (96) and Italy (90). Countries with fewer cases included Britain (52), France (51) and Germany (43), all with 10 times Ireland’s population.

Launching a detailed research paper No Time to Waste, which documents Ireland’s non-compliance, he warned that Ireland’s failure to implement EU environmental legislation could prove an impediment to a sustainable economic recovery.

Mr De Rossa said that “conservative political forces” in Ireland viewed environmental protection as one of the negative “obligations” of EU membership – “measures that should be opposed and, when that proves futile, to be delayed for as long as possible”.

Despite the Green Party’s entry to Government in 2007, he said there was “little evidence of any increased effort” to improve the implementation of EU environmental directives, although some progress had been made on nature conservation.

“This was largely in response to the prospect of imminent fines, but weaknesses and omissions that were identified before the last general election remain to be addressed – on waste, environmental impact assessments [and] water quality,” he said.

Mr De Rossa endorsed a European Commission proposal that officials from its environment directorate should be seconded to the Department of the Environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and even local authorities for short periods.

The aim would be to improve awareness and understanding of EU environmental directives as well as to establish “performance scoreboards” for local authorities to compare their performance in achieving environmental goals.