A Year in Review: Highlights from 2011

The quality of Ireland’s environment is central to our economic recovery, to the creation of jobs, and to the health and well-being of the nation according to Laura Burke, EPA Director General, speaking at the release of the EPA’s Review of 2011.

Laura Burke was appointed Director General in November 2011.  A priority for the EPA, she said, is to highlight to citizens the vital connections that exist between the work that the EPA does, a good quality environment and sustainable economic recovery and growth.  She explained,

“We would like to see all sectors integrate good environmental approaches into normal working practices.  To this end the EPA will engage more broadly with sectors interacting with the environment and continue to develop our role in assisting development that is environmentally and economically sustainable.”

Laura Burke highlighted the work being done as part of the National Waste Prevention Programme, led by the EPA, as an example of how engagement can benefit stakeholders, as well as the environment:
The National Waste Prevention Programme aims to deliver substantive results in preventing and minimising waste and is cited as best practice by the EU Commission and the OECD.   The programme continues to identify tens of millions of euro worth of savings across a number of sectors including business, hospitality and healthcare.”
On the issue of water quality, Laura Burke said that good quality water, be it drinking water, bathing water or estuary, lake or river water,  is vital for public health, for the food industry, for tourism, and for inward investment:

“The positive downward trend in E.coli in drinking water in recent years is continuing, our latest report shows. For the first time, we are seeing that large public drinking water supplies in Ireland, which provide drinking water to almost three million people, are matching compliance rates for E. coli to supplies in England and Wales, and the Netherlands.  On a similarly positive note, our most recent assessment of water quality in our rivers, lakes estuaries and ground waters also found evidence of improvements in water quality – Ireland had better than average water quality when compared with other EU Member States.”

On ever more stringent European and international targets and objectives, Ms Burke cautioned that in water, as in other areas such as waste or greenhouse gas emissions,
“If Ireland is to achieve its European and international targets, continued actions across a range of sectors are essential.  The EPA will continue to work with the network of local authorities, with sectoral groups and with other agencies in tackling the environmental challenges that Ireland faces.”

Ms Burke concluded by saying,

“I am committed to maintaining the performance of the EPA in protecting and enhancing the quality of our environment.  The recent independent Review of the EPA concluded that ‘the EPA has the independence to arrive at informed and objective decisions, based on the facts (scientific integrity)’.  I will continue to prioritise objective assessment of the state of our environment and ensure that we continue to provide high quality scientific information.”

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