Ireland Asked to Comply With Court Ruling on Waste Management

The European Commission is asking Ireland to comply with a ruling by the EU’s Court of Justice regarding waste disposal. While good progress has been made in some instances, more action is needed in areas such as construction waste and end-of-life vehicles. If the necessary actions were not taken, the Commission may take Ireland back to Court and request financial penalties.

“The world is not our trash can. Proper waste disposal is essential to keep the environment healthy. I therefore urge Ireland to bring its practices into line with EU law,” says Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik

On a separate environmental issue the Commission welcomed measures taken by Ireland to comply with a Court ruling on the protection of certain vulnerable areas and Natura 2000 sites, as well as environmental impact assessments, and has closed infringement cases on both topics.

The Commission has again asked Ireland to comply with a ruling on waste disposal handed out by the EU’s Court of Justice in 2005. The Court ruled that Ireland was failing in its obligation to comply with EU waste laws, and that environmentally damaging waste practices were widespread. These included unauthorised waste operations on environmentally sensitive wetlands, and a persistent pattern of official tolerance of the uncontrolled disposal of waste.

Progress has been made since the judgment, and Ireland now has an adequate network of landfills. But an adequate network for construction and demolition waste – a category that figured prominently in the case – is still lacking. Many facilities handling end-of-life vehicle waste are still operating without permits, and waste in certain illegal landfills is not covered by permit. In several cases, waste has been left untreated in unauthorised sites.

As clean-up measures have yet to be completed for several waste sites, and permitting has not yet been completed for end-of-life vehicles, an additional letter of formal notice has been sent, giving Ireland a chance to react to these specific points.

The European Commission has welcomed measures taken by Ireland to comply with its obligations under EU rules as regards the Birds and Habitats directives, and Environmental Impact Assessment requirements. As a result, the Commission has closed infringement cases on both matters.

In the nature case, in response to a Court ruling in 2007, Ireland has brought in new statutory regulations controlling recreational activities in a number of vulnerable hill and coastal Natura 2000 sites, and is committed to further action if needed to protect the sites, enabling the Commission to close the case. Ireland has also strengthened its requirements for environmental impact assessments for aquaculture installations such as fish farms, and legal proceedings on this have therefore been dropped.

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