Oireachtas monitor – 9th November 2020

Oireachtas Monitor

Climate & Health

Week beginning 9th November 2020

10th November 2020 To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he will publish the clean air strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34523/20]

My Department is currently working to finalise Ireland’s first National Clean Air Strategy which I intend to publish in the coming months. There are a number of national policy frameworks already in place which will also help to reduce pollutant emissions and improve air quality, such as the Climate Action Plan, the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan and the National Renewable Energy Plan. It is important that synergies are maximised between these plans and the Clean Air Strategy, with a view to achieving lasting reductions in the health and environmental impacts of air pollution in the most effective manner. In line with the Programme for Government, the Clean Air Strategy will also include the following measures:

  • establishing a regional approach to air quality and noise enforcement;
  • developing a multi-agency approach to clamping down on the sale of high-sulphur content fuel imported from the UK, with Local Authorities and the Revenue Commissioners;
  • investing in our network of monitoring stations, to provide scientific evidence of air quality across different parts of the country, including real-time and localised air quality information; and
  • moving towards a full nationwide solid fuel regulation in terms of residential burning.

The Strategy will provide the policy framework necessary to identify and promote the integrated measures and actions across Government that are required to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air, while delivering on wider national objectives.

To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason for the delay in publishing the clean air strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34524/20]

Tackling the sources and causes of air pollution is a significant cross-Government challenge, as it involves emissions from transport, industry, agriculture, shipping and the use of solid fuels in homes. Given the wide range of pollutant sources, it is important that action is coordinated across various sectors. In this regard, it has been necessary to consult widely, including with other Departments, State Agencies, and industry bodies on developing the Clean Air Strategy. In addition, a number of plans relevant to the clean air agenda have been published including the Climate Action Plan, National Energy Efficiency Action Plan and the National Renewable Energy Plan. It is important to ensure that synergies are maximised between these plans and the National Clean Air Strategy, with a view to achieving lasting reductions in the health and environmental impacts of air pollution. I am committed to publishing the Strategy at the earliest opportunity.

To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the progress in delivering on the programme for Government commitment to publish a national clean air strategy and to develop a regional approach to air quality and noise enforcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35306/20]

My Department is currently working to finalise Ireland’s first National Clean Air Strategy which I intend to publish in the coming months. There are a number of national policy frameworks already in place which will also help to reduce pollutant emissions and improve air quality, such as the Climate Action Plan, National Energy Efficiency Action Plan and the National Renewable Energy Plan. It is important that synergies are maximised between these plans and the Clean Air Strategy, with a view to achieving lasting reductions in the health and environmental impacts of air pollution in the most effective manner.

My Department has commenced discussions with the local authority sector to determine how a regional approach to air and noise enforcement will be developed. The intention is to establish dedicated resources within regional lead authorities to provide co-ordination, expertise and advice to support effective and consistent implementation of air and noise legislation across the country. Building on the success of other regional environmental enforcement and implementation models, I expect this Programme for Government commitment to also be significantly progressed in the coming months.

11th November 2020 To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if specific financial resources will be allocated to local authorities to ensure that the ban on smoky coal is monitored and implemented due to the difficulties caused for some businesses arising from cross-Border trade in such products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35755/20]

The Programme for Government contains a specific commitment to develop a regional approach to air quality enforcement and a multi-agency approach to clamping down on the sale of high sulphur content fuel imported from the UK, with Local Authorities and the Revenue Commissioners involved.

My Department has commenced discussions with the Local Authority sector to determine how a regional approach to air quality enforcement will be developed. The intention is to establish dedicated resources within regional lead authorities to provide co-ordination, expertise and advice to support effective and consistent implementation of air quality legislation across the country.

Such a coordinated approach is required given the links between burning of solid fuels and the health effects of air pollution, as well as the potential for market distortion for businesses properly adhering to the regulations. Increased multi-agency inspections and enforcement, including the use of fixed payment notices, are required and my Department is fully committed to supporting Local Authorities in this regard.

There is already very good use of multi-agency operations being applied in waste enforcement at a regional level, with supporting national structures. Building on this good practice, I expect significant progress in moving towards a regional multi-agency approach to air quality enforcement in the coming months.

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