Protecting the environment
Sir, – Laura Burke, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would do well to read the vision and mission statement of the organisation she leads. Its mission is to “protect and improve the natural environment for present and future generations” and core to its establishment was the objective to “regulate and police activities that might otherwise cause pollution”.
In an interview with Olivia Kelly (Home News, Tuesday April 17th) she said that the agency should not be “racing to prosecute” businesses for not complying with environmental legislation. What an astonishing statement from the director general of the State’s environmental watchdog. She goes on to say in the interview that she wanted to reposition the agency to support economic growth and move away from the perception that its role was a regulatory and enforcement one.
I wish to point out we had record economic growth for over a decade and during this time we also had record levels of water contamination, pollution, illegal dumping, widespread flouting of environmental and regulatory legislation by the construction industry and quarry operations, habitat loss and denigration of the quality of life of tens of thousands of Irish citizens due to a lack of regulation and enforcement in planning.
I do agree with Ms Burke that the EPA has a role to play in the economic recovery of the country; that role is in ensuring that the very costly mistakes of the past are not replicated as we collectively try to re imagine a fairer, more equitable and sustainable society. Sending out invitations to polluting industries to locate here is simply not helpful in the broader debate. – Yours, etc,