Frequently Asked Questions on the Environment

Air General Noise  Waste  Radiation
Wastewater Water WEEE

Industrial Emissions
Directive (IED)

 Shale Gas Fracking
& UGEE Research

Medium Combustion Plant
(MCP) Regulations


I am worried about the quality of the Air in my house/apartment. Can the Environmental Protection Agency assist?

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for implementing legislation on ambient/outdoor air quality.  There is no legislation on indoor air quality in homes therefore there is no organisation with responsibilities for this. 

  • If you are experiencing health problems please contact your Doctor your Health Service Executive (HSE).
  • If you think the source of the air pollution is outside you can contact the air pollution section of your Local Authority.  They deal with air pollution nuisance complaints.
  • If you think the problem is caused by the building you should contact your landlord/management company/builders/homebond/building section of local authority as appropriate.

There are some private companies who test air quality in private dwellings.  These are mainly large environmental consultancy firms who operate nationally.  You can find a list of these in your classified directory.  The Environmental Protection Agency does not endorse or maintain a list of any of these companies.

The Environmental Protection Agency monitor ambient air quality throughout the country.  Real time air quality results are available on our website


Are there any standards for indoor air quality?

No, there are no indoor air quality standards in Ireland.  The EPA measures outdoor air quality for a number of atmospheric pollutants.  The list of pollutants we monitor include; Ozone, Carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), Benzene (C6H6), Lead  (Pb), PAH (Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons), Arsenic (As), Nickel (Ni), Mercury (Hg). Detailed information about real-time Air Quality data can be found on our website.


If you are concerned about indoor air quality in your workplace you should contact the Health and Safety Authority. Tel: 1890 289 389 or visit the HSA website

What are condensation trails (or contrails)?

Condensation trails (or ‘contrails’), sometimes also referred to as ‘vapour trails’ are long, thin artificial clouds that sometimes form behind aircraft and are visible from the ground.

Contrails are plumes of ice-crystals formed by the condensation and freezing of water vapour in the exhaust-gases of an aircraft flying at high altitudes and under certain atmospheric conditions. Fossil fuels contain hydrocarbons and burning these fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour (H2O),  along with other materials, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphates, hydrocarbons, soot, metal particles, etc.  This occurs when these fuels are used in powering the engines of aircraft as well as trains, cars, trucks, boilers, etc.  The difference with aircraft is that they operate in atmospheric conditions (where temperatures are commonly below -40oC) that are very different to those of other vehicles.

How do atmospheric conditions affect these contrails?

Depending upon atmospheric conditions, contrails can rapidly dissipate or remain for some time, gradually spreading horizontally into an extensive thin cirrus cloud layer. As a general rule, the drier the air the more rapid the evaporation process will be. Under more humid conditions, there will be less effective evaporation, so contrails will generally remain visible for longer periods.

Does the type of aircraft and its fuel source affect these contrails?

The type of aircraft and its fuel source are important considerations. These affect how much additional heat and moisture is ejected into the atmosphere.   The water vapour in the aircraft exhaust will artifically (and temporarily) elevate the humidity of the air in the wake of the aircraft, but as this mixing process continues and more of the ambient  environment air is added the “fate” of the contrail (i.e., whether it will dissipate or whether it will persist) becomes increasingly dependent on the relative humidity (ratio of moisture to temperature of the environmental air). If the ambient air is too dry, the contrail will evaporate.  On the other hand, if the atmospheric humidity in the ambient air is high enough (i.e., above the threshold  for ice to persist) the the contrail will persist. 

The interesting thing is that between these two humidity thresholds (above the ice threshold but below the water threshold), “natural” clouds cannot form spontaneously,  but a contrail that is formed (from air being temporarily elevated above the water threshold) cannot only persist, but can spread out and trigger additional cirrus clouds to form (because the ice particles within the contrail can act as  condensation nuclei).  Contrail-cirrus is virtually indistinguishable from natural cirrus clouds, making it very difficult to quantify the amount of cirrus coverage that is contrail-induced. 

An ‘aircraft contrail-factor’ is calculated for each type of aircraft and used in determining whether or not a contrail will form in a given set of atmospheric conditions. A standard contrail-factor can be used to represent modern commercial aircraft. 

Upper-atmospheric humidity and temperatures are retrieved at 4 x daily intervals from Met Éireann’s weather balloons launched at the Valentia observatory in Co. Kerry.  Using this information, together with the contrail-factor for commercial aircraft,  it is possible to calculate the atmospheric susceptibility to both contrail formation and persistence in Irish skies. By doing this, the height and thickness of ‘contrail-layers’ when formed can be evaluated.

From examination of these 4 x daily ascents from the last few years, it had been determined that in more than three quarters of these ascents, atmospheric conditions were favourable to support persistent contrails from commercial jet aircraft.  However,  the thickness of the atmospheric contrail-layers varied depending on time of day and time of year, such that the thickest layers were found to occur in night-time ascents during winter.  

Contrails seem to last for hours as opposed to dissipating quickly in recent years - is this a new phenomenon?

As aircraft engines become more efficient,  their exhausts get cooler resulting in contrails forming in warmer ambient air – i.e.,  essentially the atmospheric ‘contrail-layers’ become thicker and thus there is an increased likelihood of the aircraft flying through a layer of the atmosphere in which contrail formation will be triggered. Whether the contrail that is formed will persist depends on whether or not the ambient atmospheric humidity is above the ‘ice threshold’. In addition, other atmospheric factors relating to anthropogenic climate change could be affecting humidity in the upper-atmosphere such that contrail persistence conditions are becoming more prevalent. A combination of these two effects could be at work here. 

Additionally, Ireland is right next to the North Atlantic Flight Corridor.  So large volumes of overflights cross Ireland daily - typically at altitudes high-enough to coincide with our atmospheric contrail-layers. Hence, we have a lot of contrails over Ireland. An EPA funded PhD research project relating to contrails is being carried out in the Geography Department at University College Cork, in the Geoinformatics - Research Group.  The research uses thermal imagery acquired by satellites to map the presence of contrails, and weather balloon data from Valentia to gain a better understanding of the atmospheric conditions prevalent in Ireland. Contrails are essentially artificial linear ice-clouds at a lower temperature than the surrounding atmosphere, so they show up very well in 1km resolution satellite thermal imagery. Between 4 and 6 images are available daily over the past ten years and are in the process of being evaluated to determine percentage contrail coverage in Irish skies and how this varies both diurnally and interannually. The contrail optical-depth is also derived from each image which can then be used to estimate the extent if any to which contrails may be contributing to an enhanced greenhouse effect.






Do contrails have an impact on ambient air?

There is no evidence to suggest that contrails have any adverse impact on ambient air quality in Ireland. Met Éireann advises that there is some evidence that contrails may influence climatology but have little impact on day-to-day weather.  The purported reason for the potential impact on climatology is that the contrails (or consequent cirrus cloud) will trap outgoing long-wave radiation, thus leading to warming in the atmosphere, and that this effect is greater than the reflection of short-wave radiation from the sun. 

What is the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in monitoring air quality?

The EPA is the statutory body responsible for monitoring air quality in Ireland. In order to protect our health, vegetation and ecosystems, a number of EU directives set down air quality standards for Ireland and the other EU member states for a wide variety of pollutants. The monitoring, assessment and management of ambient air quality in Ireland is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the EU Air Quality Framework Directive and Clean Air for Europe Directive. Specific ambient air quality standards have been prescribed for the following pollutants in ambient air and/or deposition from air:

  • sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead;
  • carbon monoxide and benzene;
  • ozone; and
  • polyaromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and mercury in ambient air.

In addition to publishing a comprehensive report on air quality annually, the EPA also reports the results of current air quality monitoring of the above pollutants through our website.  View real-time air quality data  for locations around the country.

What is the role of the Irish Aviation Authority?

The Irish Aviation Authority's (IAA)  remit is the provision of Air Navigation Services and Safety Regulation of the Irish civil aviation industry. Some relevant points from previous correspondence with members of the public and the IAA on this issue are set out below:

  • The IAA can confirm that contrails are an artificial cloud created by an aircraft; caused either by condensation due to the reduction in air pressure above the wing surface or by water vapour in the engine exhaust.
  • The contrails occurring are a normal event.  Aviation fuel used by Irish aircraft operators is inspected by the Irish Aviation Authority to ensure that it meets with the requirements for aviation use.  
  • The Air Navigation Services Department (Air Traffic Control) confirmed that there is no unauthorised penetration in the upper airspace occurring as all aircraft travelling through the airspace advise  the IAA in advance and are traceable.
  • All aircraft travelling in the upper airspace are subject to air traffic control and this includes regular airlines, military aircraft and private jet aircraft.



What steps are open to me under the law regarding nuisance caused by noise?

There are a number of steps open to you under the law when you are experiencing nuisance caused by noise.  The procedures detailed below are designed to cover general neighbourhood type noise problems, such as continual noise from other houses home workshops, local businesses etc.  The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No.179 of 1994) provide redress in the case of these types of problems.  They are designed to allow straightforward access to the Courts by individuals or groups concerned atout excessive noise.

When can I take action to deal with noise as nuisance?

Whenever you consider a noise to be so loud, so continuous, so repeated or of such duration or pitch, or occurring at such times that it gives you reasonable cause for annoyance you can initiate action to deal with it.

What action can I take?

  • Initially, it may be sufficient to explain to whoever is causing the noise that it is a nuisance and come to some mutually acceptable understanding.  In the case of noise emanating from multiple occupancy rented accommodation, the landlord (or the relevant Council in the case of local authority housing) should be contacted to determine if breaches of the tenancy agreement have occurred. 
  • If this does not resolve the matter you may wish to consider contacing your local authority or the EPA in the case of an activity for which a licence is required under the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992. 
  • Finally, you may exercise your right to make a formal complaint to the District Court seeking an Order to deal with the nuisance.  Forms are available from the District Court office.
What can be done about noise arising from commercial and construction activities?

Noise emenating from construction activities or the activities of a commercial premises are dealt with under Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, which provides local authorities with the powers to limit or prevent noise.

Noise from Commercial Premises:

Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 provides local authorities with powers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise.  These powers are generally exercised in preventing and limiting noise from commercial and industrial premises within their functional areas.  A Notice can be served by a local authority on any person in charge of any premises, processes or works, other than an activity controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Construction Noise:

There is no statutory period during which certain works e.g. construction, road works, DIY etc. are prohibited.  However, a Planning Authority may attach conditions to individual planning permissions for any development on a case by case basis.  These tailored conditions may inlcude restrictions on the times when construction work can be undertaken.

If you are encountering noise from a construction site you should, in the first instance, contact your Planning Authority to ascertain whether any such conditions apply.  A local authority can still address the issue under Section 107 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 which provides them withpowers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise.  You can also address the issue by taking a case under the Noise Regulations.

What can be done if I am experiencing nuisance noise from a neighbour?

The source of a neighbourhood noise complaint most often dictates the way it should be addressed, depending on whether the individual causing the noise nuisance is a private rented tenant, a local authority tenant or a private home-owner.

Private Rented Tenants:  In the case of noise nuisance being caused by individuals in private rented accommodation, the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 imposes minimum statutory obligations on landlords and tenants of private residential tenancies.  Tenant obligations under the Act include an obligation not to engage, or allow visitors to engage, in anti-social behaviour which is defined as including persistent noise that interferes with the peaceful occupation of other dwellings in the neighbourhood.  The Act also imposes an obligation on landlords to enforce the tenant obligations.

There is provision in the Act for third parties who are adversely affected by a failure on the part of a landlord to enforce tenant obligations to refer a complaint to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB)  in accordance with the procedures in the Act.  If an alternative legal remedy, such as the remedy provided for under the  Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 179)  is being pursued, then the PRTB cannot intervene.  Since December 2004 all privately-rented properties must be registered with the PRTB.  You can check if a property is registered by contacting the PRTB.

Local Authority Tenants:  Noise nuisance caused by local authority tenants are also covered under legislation.  The tenancy agreement, which is the legal basis of the relationship between the local authority and its tenants, will generally contain provisions in relation to the type of behaviour that is acceptable, and that which is not. The local authority is empowered under Section 62 of the Housing Act 1966, to initiate proceedings to secure an eviction where a tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy agreement.  Please contact your local authority if you have a complaint regarding the behaviour of one of their tenants.

Private Home Owner:  If the person causing a noise nuisance is a private home owner then obviously the potential remedies outlined above do not apply.  In this case, the person experiencing the noise nuisance will have to avail of the remedy provided under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 179)  whereby any individual person, or a local authority, may complain to a District Court seeking an Order to deal with the noise nuisance.The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has issued a self-explanatory leaflet entitled "A Guide to Noise Regulations" which outlines the steps to be taken where a person is experiencing nuisance caused by noise.  It includes a form, which can be filled in and then forwarded to the Clerk of the local District Court. There is no requirement to be represented in Court by a solicitor.  In addition, as there are no statutory limits currently in place, noise-monitoring data is not necessarily required; however, it may be beneficial in comparing data with the World Health Organisation (WHO) noise exposure recommendations.  Alternatively, a written record which includes dates and times during which the perceived noise nuisance occurred and/or a tape recording of the type of noise experienced, can provide important evidence which can be presented in Court.

Who do I contact regarding problems from barking dogs?

Problems arising from barking dogs are covered under the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 & 1992.  A copy of the Form used for complaints to the Courts about noise from dogs is available from your local authority.

What can I do about noise arising from public events such as pop concerts or festivals?
Any event such as a concerts or festivals, would normally require planning permission, however in some cases, a particular venue may have prior approval to stage a set number of concerts/events per annum.  The appropriate local authority should be contacted in relation to any planning conditions relating to noise for these once off events.
Who do I contact regarding traffic related noise?

The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 179 of 1994) are not designed to cover noise from roadways.  Complaints about local traffic related noise should be addressed to the relevant roads authority in the first instance.  For national road schemes, potential noise emissions are addressed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process undertaken by, or on behalf of, the Natoinal Roads Authority.

In addition, EU Directive 2002/49/EC sets out certain requirements for the assessment and management of environmental noise from transport sources (including major roads) including the making of strategic noise maps and action plans.  For major roads or roads with significant traffic flows the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006 (S.I. 140 of 2006) provide for the implementation of action plans to reduce the effects of noise from roads.


How to deal with quarries causing noise and general annoyance?

The Environmental Protection Agency has no statutory function in the regulation of aggregate and construction stone/gravel quarries and pits as these are not licensed within the licensing regimes operated by the Agency. In the main, these activities are regulated under the planning code.

Section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 imposes a statutory regime for the regulation of quarries in Ireland. All quarries must now register with the planning authority in their locality and it is the planning authority’s responsibility to regulate the quarry through the planning process.

Furthermore, Section 151-164 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides the planning authority with a range of enforcement powers in dealing with unauthorised developments or breaches of conditions.

Please note that Section 63(10) of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003 specifically prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from exercising any power or control in relation to the making of a decision on an application for planning permission.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you should continue to report any further incidents of pollution preferably in writing, to your Local Authority.

However, if you consider the performance of the Local Authority to be unsatisfactory in resolving this issue, you are advised to put your complaint in writing to the complaints officer in that Local Authority.

If you feel that you have been adversely affected by the planning authority's actions or you are dissatisfied with the service you have received from the local authority, you can contact the Office of the Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman will not consider the planning issues involved but will investigate the administrative actions of the local authority in considering your complaint. 

Furthermore, please note that the Ombudsman’s staff attend monthly at a Citizens Information Centre to take complaints. Please see The Citizens Information website for more information.

The Ombudsman can be contacted at:

Office of the Ombudsman,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-639 5600 Locall 1890 22 30 30

What can be done about the noise from crow guns/bangers?

If the use of noise devices by farmers, to scare off birds eating their crops (knows as "crow guns/bangers") is causing a nuisance,  and you consider that the noise to be so loud, so continuous, so repeated, of such duration or pitch,  or occurring at such times that it gives you reasonable cause for annoyance you can initiate action to deal with it.

What action can I take?

  1. Initially, it may be sufficient to explain to the farmer that it is a nuisance and so come to some mutually acceptable understanding. 
  2. If this does not resolve the matter you may wish to consider contacting the Environmental Section of your local authority/county council to ascertain whether it is in a position to take action.
  3. Finally, you may exercise your right to take redress through the District Court under the Noise Regulations.  However, before proceeding with a complaint, you are advised, to consult your local authority (where applicable) or seek legal advice.

The role of the District Court

The District Court hears both sides of the case. If it finds in your favour, it can order the reduction of the noise to a specified level, limit it to specific times or to cease altogether.

How do I complain to the District Court?

  1. Consult with the Clerk of your local District Court about a date for the hearing of your case.
  2. You must inform the person concerned that you will be making a complaint to the District Court. The date for the hearing of the case must be at least seven days later than the date you inform the person or body causing the noise.
  3. You have to fill out a form and present your case in court. As a general rule, it is important to have a record of the times and dates when the noise nuisance occurred.


Who is responsible for issuing Waste Collection Permits?

Under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations, 2007 and Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2008,  those intending to carry out waste collection activities in a local authority area must apply for a waste collection permit. This requirement applies to individuals, companies and partnerships.

On the 1st of February 2012, Offaly County Council was designated as the Nominated Authority for the processing of all new Waste Collection Permit applications.     This single Nominated Authority will be known as the National Waste Collection Permit Office (NWCPO). 

Existing Waste Collection Permits have also been transferred to the NWCPO.   Therefore, all additions, deletions  etc.  to active waste collection permits are now being processed  by them.

Please contact the Environment Section,  Offaly County Council on 057 9357428 or email if you have any queries in relation to applying for a Waste Collection Permit. You are advised to engage in a pre-application consultation prior to lodging an application.

Please visit for more information on permitted contractors and on what types of waste they can collect.

Who do I contact regarding information on transfrontier shipment of waste?

Exporting Waste

Regulating the movement of waste between EU Member States and between the EU and other countries is a large and complex business. It is referred to as 'transfrontier shipment', or TFS. Movement of waste between member states is subject to Regulation (EC) No. 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14th June, 2006 on shipments of waste.  This Regulation is supported in Irish law through Statutory Instruments under the Waste Management (Shipments of Waste) Regulations, S.I. 419.  Some wastes are more strictly controlled than others. The regulation sets out a system for the classifying waste into three lists:

  • The green list: In broad terms, green listed wastes are non-hazardous and easily recyclable, such as paper and plastic. These wastes may move across international borders within the EU without having to request permission or advance notification.
  • The amber list: When green wastes are mixed ('co-mingled'), they become amber listed wastes. They then do require pre-notification and prior written consent before they can be exported. Consequently as a waste becomes somewhat more difficult to recover or somewhat more hazardous it goes onto the amber list. T
  • The red list: This covers particularly dangerous wastes.

Since 12th of July 2007, Dublin City Council was designated as the National Competent Authority for the export, import and transit of waste shipments under the Waste Management (Shipments of Waste) Regulations, 2007.  All transfrontier shipments of waste originating in any local authority area in the State that are subject to the prior written notification procedures must be notified to and through Dublin City Council at the National TFS Office established to implement and enforce the Regulations.  Contact details are as follows; Dublin City Council, Eblana House, 68-71 Marrowbone Lane, Dublin 8, Republic of Ireland. Telephone No. (01) - 2224235 or (01)- 2224374.   Any queries relating to TFS import, export or transit should be directed to the Dublin City Council, National TFS Office.  The current Waste Management (Shipments of Waste) Regulations 2007, S.I. 419, Regulation (EC) 1013/2006, and TFS guidelines are available on the Dublin City Council TFS webpage included below.

Can a householder burn waste/organic matter in his or her home/garden?

No, it is not permissible for a householder to burn any waste.  Under the Waste Management (Prohibition Of Waste Disposal By Burning) Regulations 2009 - S.I. No. 286 of 2009, it states: 'Household waste shall not be disposed of by burning either within a building, the curtilage of a building, any self contained part of a building used for the purposes of living accommodation or its cartilage'.

However, under Section 5 of the above regulation, it states 'without prejudice to any other enactment or rule of law, Regulation 4 shall not apply when the following conditions are fulfilled — the burning of waste relates solely to material consisting of uncontaminated wood, trees, tree trimmings, leaves, brush, or other similar waste generated by agricultural practices, but excluding garden and park wastes'.

Please note, household organic garden waste also falls under the above regulations and cannot be burned.   It is recommended that householders should reuse, compost, shred &/or chip this material.  Many Waste Collection companies not accept garden/organic waste, and some local authorities accept this waste at their civic amenity centres, however please contact your local authority for further information.  If you wish to complain about somebody illegally burning hedge clippings & garden waste in their back garden please contact your local authority to have your complaint investigated.

View regulation details.


Can the EPA do something about people illegally dumping on the roadside, in a river, or on the beaches?

There is specific legislation dealing with illegally litter/rubbish dumping and, in general, should be dealt with locally.  Therefore all incidents of illegal dumping of litter or rubbish should be reported to your Local Authority immediately. The EPA is a national Agency and deals in general with issues at a different level. 

Alternatively, you can report illegal dumping to a 24 hour lo-call telephone number 1850 365 121.   This informaton will then be followed up and checked by the enforcement authorities - local authorities, the EPA's Office of Environmental Enforcement and An Garda Síochána - through the Environmental Enforcement Network.  Information that you give can be treated confidentially although you are encouraged to give your contact details as authorities may wish to follow-up with you in relation to the investigation of illegal dumping.

If your local authority finds material that is illegally dumped and establishes the identity of the owner of the material, that person will have a case to answer without necessarily having to be caught in the act.  The Litter Pollution Act 1997, as amended by the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001 and the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, introduced strong penalties in Ireland to help combat the problems of litter pollution more effectively. The litter laws have increased the powers of your local authority to combat the problem of illegal dumping of refuse and rubbish. If you see someone dumping illegally, you should report the matter to your local authority who will investigate and take any necessary enforcement action.


Is a householder allowed burn hedge clippings and garden waste?

Under the Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 it is illegal for a householder to burn garden waste, this includes burning of cut tree limbs, hedging, cuttings, clippings after landscaping & gardening works.  It is recommended that householders should reuse, compost, shred &/or chip this material.  Many Waste Collection companies do not accept garden/organic waste, and some local authorities accept this waste at their civic amenity centres. However, please contact your local authority for further information.

If you wish to complain about somebody illegally burning hedge clippings & garden waste in their back garden please contact your local authority, where your complaint will be investigated.

Can I burn cardboard pellets in a wood pellet fed boilers?

The simple answer is no.  Burning of cardboard pellets would be considered as waste incineration, unless there is a 'Product Standard' (which would provide proof that the material is not a waste) for the pellets.

The risks in burning cardboard pellets would be associated with what is contained within the cardboard (contaminants from ink, contaminants from the materials which were in the cardboard packaging, etc), these can be damaging to both health and the environment. 

Individuals should also note that the boiler itself may not be suitable to burn anything other than wood pellet, and cardboard pellets may pose problems for the boiler.

Further information about wood chip boilers may be obtained from Sustainable Energy Ireland 

Where can I recycle unusual items like aerosols, paint cans, weed killers, and pesticides?

Each local authority provides facilities for recycling different types of materials at their civic amenity centre.  To find out what materials are accepted at your nearest facilities please contact your local authority or visit their website.

Most local authorities also provide a collection service two or three times a year to collect household hazardous wastes such as weed-killer, paints, pesticides, detergents, aerosols etc.  You should contact your local authority to find out when the next collection day will take place.

Please be aware, that this serivce is only available to householders, and there is a limit to how much will be accepted.

Can I burn waste oil, such as car oil, in a waste oil burner?

The Environmental Protection Agency wishes to advise that the burning of waste oil falls under the scope of the European Waste Incineration Directive (Directive 2000/76/EC).  The Waste Incineration Directive states, “no incineration or co-incineration plant shall operate without a permit to carry out these activities”.

Therefore, the operation of, for example, used oil burners, will require a Waste Licence from the Environmental Protection Agency for Hazardous Waste Incineration.  It is an offence under the Waste Management Act to burn waste oil in the absence of a Waste Licence. The combustion of waste oils in unauthorised burners/energy units has the potential to cause harm to the environment and human health.

Further information regarding waste authorisations can be found on the EPA web page. Enquires can be emailed to or by post to EPA Headquarters, PO Box 3000, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford. Telephone 053 9160600.

Where can I get a list of landfills in Ireland?

In 1996 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began licensing certain activities in the waste sector. These include landfills, transfer stations, hazardous waste disposal and other significant waste disposal and recovery activities. The licence search facility on the EPA Website will provide you with a full list of these sites. Search for a Waste Licence here.

If you are seeking a list of companies which can collect waste in your area, please contact your local authority, as they maintain a list of such contractors within their administrative area.


I want to start a business where I wash vehicles and have the discharge flow directly to a drain/sewer. What form of licensing would that require?

Water Pollution Discharge Licences are issued under Section 4 and Section 16 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977 as amended in 1990, in order to allow companies and other bodies to discharge a controlled amount of trade effluent to a public sewer, surface waters or ground waters. To apply for Licence to Discharge Trade Effluent please contact the relevant Sanitary Authority/Local Authority for further details.

I need to empty my septic tank, what should I do?

Septic tanks should be pumped when sludge and scum accumulation exceed 30% of the tank volume or are encroaching on the inlet and outlet baffle entrances.  Periodic pumping of septic tanks is recommended to ensure proper system performance and deduce the risk of hydraulic failure.  Septic tanks should be de-sledged at a minimum of once every year, in cases where the septic tank is at, or near, its design load capacity, de-sledging should be more often if the rate of sludge building-up required more frequent removal.  Accumulated sludge and scum material found in the tank should be removed by an appropriately permitted contractor in accordance with the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations 2001

The local authority have a list of permitted contractors in the area.  The permitted contractor will arrange for the disposal of the sludge in accordance with the national legislations via either disposal to agriculture or disposal to a managed wastewater treatment municipal facility.  Householders should obtain a certificate from the permitted contractor each time their tank is de-sledged.


Sludge from a septic tank or a sewage treatment system that is intended to be landspread should be managed in accordance with the Waste Management (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) Regulations, 1998 and its amendment Waste Management (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) (Amendment) Regulations, 2001.  These regulations allow for the landspreading of sewage sludge on agricultural land providing that certain criteria are met and that it is carried out in accordance with the nutrient management plan for the lands in questions.
Can a farmer empty a septic tank for a neighbour, and spread it on his land?

No. The collection of wastes by any person or business for the purpose of profit, reward or otherwise in the course of business requires a waste collection permit under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations, 2001. Farmers and farm contractors fall within the scope of this definition, and they should always check in advance that the contractors they use have the required permits.

The following table is a summary of the various scenarios that may arise, and whether a permit is required in each scenario.

 Scenario Permit Requirement   Relevant Regulations
Farmer collecting waste on his own land, and spreading it on his own land, including outlying lands in the same tenure. No permit required. Gathered, sorted or mixed on the premises where it arose.
Contractor spreading waste for a farmer, on the farm on which the waste arose, including outlying lands in the same tenure. No permit required. Gathered, sorted or mixed on the premises where it arose.
Contractor collecting waste from a farm and transporting it for disposal or recovery on another premises. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Farmer collecting waste not owned by him or her, and transporting it for recovery or disposal on another premises. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Contractor collecting septic tank sludge for recovery or disposal off site. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Farmer transporting wastes or excavation spoil for recovery off site. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Contractor collecting wastes from an IPC-licensed facility, and spreading on his or her own, or licensee-owned, or independently owned, spread lands. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.
Farmer collecting wastes from an IPC facility and spreading it on his or her own land. Permit required. Section 34: Collection for the purpose of reward.


What impact does the Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 have on me?

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DoECLG) has published the Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011. The Bill provides for the registration, inspection and remediation (where necessary) of all domestic wastewater treatment systems including septic tanks. 

I need further information on Wastewater treatment systems for single houses, where can I find this?
We have developed a set of FAQs to provide answers to the frequently asked questions about wastewater treatment systems for single houses in general and questions on the EPA’s guidance document – Code of Practice: Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems Serving Single Houses (p.e. <10).


To whom do I report pollution such as: fish kill; forest fire; oil spillage?

Pollution incidents should be reported in the first instance to the local authority in whose area the incident occurred as they can respond rapidly. The Local Authority will contact the Environmental Protection Agency if an EPA licensed activity is concerned.  If you know it is an EPA licensed activity you should contact us directly as well as the Local Authority.  Use the following link to obtain full details about how to Make an Environmental Complaint

Can the EPA stop farmers discharging pollution into rivers?

This is primarily a matter for the relevant Local Authority, under the Water Pollution Act 1977. If, however, the Local Authority is not fulfilling its function, a complaint can be made to the EPA who will take up the matter with the relevant Local Authority to ensure pollution is not taking place.  Use the following link to obtain full details on

Shale Gas Fracking and UGEE Joint Research Programme

Shale-gas Fracking - What is Shale?

Shale is a type of sedimentary rock, made up of clay and silt-sized particles. Originally, shale was a muddy sediment deposited in a relatively still environment at the bottom of the sea or a lake. Over time, as it became overlain by other geological materials, the weight drove out the moisture, and compacted and cemented the muddy sediment into a solid, thinly layered rock, called shale. A distinguishing feature of shale is that it breaks along thin parallel layering or bedding; this is called fissility.

Its flaky composition means that the layers can usually be separated with a screwdriver, so shale is not “solid” in the way we usually think of rock as being solid. The colour of shale depends on the mineral composition; in Ireland it is often grey, although green and red shale is also found.

Shale-gas Fracking - What is shale gas?
The materials which make up shale are a mixture of clays and muds and often a significant element of organic matter. Over time this organic matter becomes ‘fossilised’ and with the assistance of pressure from above the organic matter is converted to hydrocarbons. It may be possible in some circumstances to extract these hydrocarbons as either shale-gas or shale oil.
Shale-gas Fracking - What is Fracking?
Hydraulic Fracturing of a geological layer is often referred to as Fracking, Fraccing or hydrofracking. The process involves the creation of, or the propagation of, a fracture in a rock layer, by means of a pressurised fluid in order to release petroleum, natural gas, coal-seam gas or other substances for extraction. The energy from the injection of a highly pressurised fluid, such as water, creates new channels in the rock which can increase the extraction rate and ultimately recovery of fossil fuels.
Shale-gas Fracking - How is fracking done?

While hydraulic fracturing can be performed in a vertical well, in shale gas exploration it is generally performed via horizontal drilling whereby the terminal drillhole is completed as a 'lateral' that extends parallel with the rock layer containing the substance to be extracted. In contrast, a vertical well only accesses the thickness of the rock layer. Horizontal drilling also reduces surface disruptions as fewer wells are required.  Drilling a well produces rock chips and fine rock particles that may enter cracks and pore space at the wellbore wall, reducing the permeability at and near the wellbore. This reduces flow into the borehole from the surrounding rock formation, and partially seals off the borehole from the surrounding rock. Hydraulic fracturing can be used to restore permeability.

Hydraulic fracturing is commonly applied to wells drilled in low permeability reservoir rock. An estimated 90 percent of the natural gas wells in the United States use hydraulic fracturing to produce gas at economic rates.

A hydraulic fracture is formed by pumping a fracturing fluid under high pressure. The pressure causes the formation to crack, allowing the fracturing fluid to enter and extend the crack farther into the formation. To keep this fracture open after the injection stops, a solid proppant, commonly a sieved round sand, is added to the fracture fluid. The propped hydraulic fracture then becomes a high permeability conduit through which the formation fluids can flow to the well.

Shale-gas Fracking - What materials are used in fracking?
Water and sand (proppant). Chemicals such as biocides and dyes, among others, are also normally used, however there are also indications that chemical-free fracking is also a possibility in some circumstances. In the context of Irish hydrocarbon exploration, the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DoCENR) regulate the use of chemicals at the drilling stage.
Shale-gas Fracking - Where has fracking for shale gas been done?

The technology has been widely used in the USA and Canada. Also in Australia (a moratorium is in effect in New South Wales), UK,France (the technique is currently banned due to environmental concerns), New Zealand, and among other jurisdictions.

Shale-gas Fracking - Exploration Phase of Hydraulic Fracking Projects
The principal competent authority for the exploration phase of such projects is the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. It is envisaged that the EPA will be a statutory consultee with respect to any Environmental Impact Assessment required for shale gas projects at the exploration stage.
Shale-gas Fracking - What is the EPAs role?

Class 9.1 of the EPA Acts covers “The extraction, other than offshore extraction, of petroleum, natural gas, coal or bituminous shale”. Any proposed project involving the commercial scale extraction of shale gas would therefore need to apply to the EPA for a licence in order to operate. As part of an application, applicants must erect a site notice and publish a newspaper notice in accordance with licensing regulations, and any applications received are made available to the public on the EPA website. Anyone can make a submission on an application, and the EPA must have regard to any submissions received when assessing the application. Subsequent to a proposed decision on the application, there is an objection period which allows the applicant and third parties to object to the decision. The EPA would assess any such objections received, and may opt to hold an oral hearing of these objections.

Shale-gas Fracking - Requirements of EPA Licensing system
An application for the commercial scale extraction of shale gas to the EPA must demonstrate the use of best environmental practice, and the use of state of the art technologies in order to minimise environmental impact. Applicants would also be required to demonstrate that the proposed activity would not cause any breaches of National legislation or European directives. For example, with regard to protection of groundwater, an applicant would be required to show that no breaches of the Water Framework Directive or relevant national Water Quality Standards would occur.
Shale-gas Fracking - What precautions can the EPA take to avoid pollution?
The EPA is statutorily barred from issuing a licence to an activity which can cause significant environmental pollution. If a licence is issued, any such licence would regulate emissions to air and water, as well as noise and odour emissions, and wastes produced, in accordance with relevant standards as outlined above.
Shale-gas Fracking - What does the EPA not regulate?
The EPA does not regulate the exploration phase of hydraulic fracking projects, this is the responsibility of the DCENR. With regard to commercial scale extraction, the EPA does not have a regulatory role with regard to visual impact, traffic, or water abstraction, among other issues.
Shale-gas Fracking - What are the main environmental considerations?
Licence applications received by the EPA would be assessed on a case by case basis. Among the key environmental issues to be addressed in any future application would include: potential for groundwater contamination from methane migration and chemical use where relevant. Greenhouse gas emissions and water usage would also be key considerations.
Shale-gas Fracking - What other regulators are likely to be involved?

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR).

The relevant Local Authorities (and possibly An Bord Pleanála).

The Health & Safety Authority (HSA).

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

Shale-gas Fracking - What if I am worried about fracking and radon, where can I get information?

If you are worried about the possible effects of shale gas fracking on the radon levels in your home, you can find some information on the radiation section of our website.

Shale-gas Fracking Research - Why was the University of Aberdeen selected to conduct preliminary research?

The University of Aberdeen was one of a number of parties approached on the basis of reputed expertise in the relevant field. The University of Aberdeen was the only party to respond with a quotation for the work, and was subsequently awarded the contract.



Shale gas Fracking Research - What is the role of STRIVE in research?

The EPA has provided funding for environmental research since 1994.  The current research programme ‘STRIVE’ has been running since 2007 and supports projects and studies with the aims of:

  1. contributing to a better environment by delivering applicable and relevant data, information and knowledge, based on high quality science and technology and
  2. building and maintaining an environmental research capability in Ireland

Identification of research priorities and scoping of projects in the STRIVE Programme is led by the EPA with assistance from the DECLG.  The basis for identification of priority areas includes environmental monitoring & reporting; expert input from EPA/DECLG staff and conclusions & recommendations from completed projects.  Further consultation is undertaken through research advisory groups consisting of key government departments & agencies and other research funding bodies.  In addition, the EPA consults more widely with researchers and NGOs through workshops & electronic consultations.

Once a topic is identified as a priority research need and a budget is approved by the EPA Board, the STRIVE Programme invites applications for funding on the basis of open competition. Evaluation of applications received is a two stage process with proposals firstly subject to international peer-review for a judgement on their scientific merit.  A shortlist is generated from this stage which is then reviewed by panel of national experts to ensure a good fit with national priorities & needs – and to ensure the work has not been funded elsewhere.  In tandem with this process, applications are financially reviewed to ensure EPA funding rules have been followed. Final ‘go-ahead’ for any project is based on this process and subject to a final overview by the EPA Board.

UGEE JRP - What about research on fracking?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a report from a preliminary study on current knowledge about the environmental considerations and impacts of shale gas exploration and extraction, and in particular the use of hydraulic fracturing technology.

The study: Hydraulic Fracturing or ‘Fracking’: A Short Summary of Current Knowledge and Potential Environmental Impacts was conducted by the University of Aberdeen.

The report provides an introduction to the environmental aspects of fracking including a review of regulatory approaches used in other countries and areas for further investigation and research.

In August 2014, following a public consultation on the Terms of Reference, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a contract to a consortium led by CDM Smith Ireland Limited (view more details), who will carry out a 24-month research programme looking at the potential impacts on the environment and human health from UGEE projects and operations (including construction, operation and aftercare). The UGEE Joint Research Programme is composed of five projects and will involve field studies (baseline monitoring of water and seismicity), as well as an extensive desk-based literature review of UGEE practices worldwide. No fracking will be undertaken as part of the research programme.

The UGEE Joint Research Programme is funded by the EPA, the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). It is managed by a steering committee comprising the EPA, the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government; DCENR; the Geological Survey of Ireland; Commission for Energy Regulation; An Bord Pleanála; NIEA, the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and the Health Services Executive.

More information available UGEE Research.

UGEE JRP - Will there be any hydraulic fracturing or drilling undertaken in the course of the research?

No fracking will be undertaken as part of the UGEE Joint Research Programme.

UGEE JRP – Who is involved?

The UGEE Joint Research Programme is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

The UGEE Joint Research Programme is managed by a steering committee comprising the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government; DCENR; the Geological Survey of Ireland; Commission for Energy Regulation; An Bord Pleanála; Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and the Health Services Executive.

The research is being carried out by a consortium, led by the global environmental and infrastructure management firm CDM Smith Ireland Limited. The consortium includes British Geological Survey, University College Dublin, University of Ulster, AMEC, and Philip Lee Solicitors.

UGEE JRP - What is the involvement of Queen’s University Belfast in the UGEE Joint Research Programme?

Staff from Queens University Belfast (QUB) were intended to contribute to the UGEE Joint Research Programme (JRP) Project A1 (Groundwater, Surface Water & Associated Ecosystems). Specifically,

  • Three researchers in the QUB groundwater group were proposed to work on a number of Project A1 tasks (leading tasks 2 & 7 and supporting other tasks)
  • A full time academic was nominated as part of the technical review team (internal review process carried out by the Consortium before submission to the Steering Committee) for Project A1.

Upon appointment, the University decided that the three researchers would not be able to fulfil their agreed responsibilities on project A1. They were replaced internally with CDM Smith and British Geological Survey (BGS) staff taking on additional tasks. However, the full time academic from QUB has undertaken his review role in full on Project A1 as proposed in the tender, and our understanding is that this was done with the knowledge of the University and not in any independent capacity.

UGEE JRP - Why are we doing it?

The key questions, the UGEE Joint Research Programme needs to answer are:

  1. Can UGEE projects/operations be carried out in the island of Ireland whilst also protecting the environment and human health?
  2. What is ‘best environmental practice’ in relation to UGEE projects/operations?

This research has been designed to produce outputs, which will assist regulators (North and South) in fulfilling their statutory roles regarding this activity.

UGEE JRP - What does the UGEE Joint Research Programme comprise?

The 24-month UGEE Joint Research Programme has been designed to produce the scientific basis, which will assist regulators – both North and South – in making an informed decision about whether it is environmentally safe to allow fracking. As well as research in Ireland, the research programme will look at and collate evidence from other countries.

The key questions the research programme needs to answer are:

  • Can UGEE projects/operations be carried out in the island of Ireland whilst also protecting the environment and human health?
  • What is ‘best environmental practice’ in relation to UGEE projects/operations?

The UGEE Joint Research Programme is composed of five projects and will involve field studies (baseline monitoring of water and seismicity), as well as an extensive desk-based literature review of UGEE practices worldwide:

  • Baseline Characterisation:
    • Project-A1 (Groundwater, Surface Water and Associated Ecosystems)
    • Project-A2 (Seismicity)
    • Project-A3 (Air Quality)
  • Impacts & Mitigation Measures:
    • Project-B: UGEE Projects/Operations: Impacts & Mitigation Measures
  •  Regulatory Framework:
    • Project-C: Regulatory Framework for Environmental Protection

For a detailed description of the research projects, please refer to the Terms of Reference.  No fracking will be undertaken as part of the research programme.

UGEE JRP -Who is doing it?

The research is being carried out by a consortium, led by the global environmental and infrastructure management firm CDM Smith Ireland Limited. The consortium includes British Geological Survey, University College Dublin, University of Ulster, AMEC, and Philip Lee Solicitors.

UGEE JRP - Why was the UGEE Joint Research Programme Contract awarded to the consortium led by CDM Smith Ireland Ltd.?

The contract award procedure chosen for this competition was by open procedure. Six tenders were received. The contract was awarded following a robust evaluation process in full compliance with procurement guidelines. The constitution of the evaluation panel was approved by the project Steering Committee and included personnel with the capacity to make informed decisions on the tenders received. The evaluation panel consisted of 27 existing and retired personnel from the following organisations:

  • An Bord Pleanala
  • Commission for Energy Regulation (CER)
  • Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR)
  • Department of the Environment Community and Local Government (DECLG)
  • Department of the Environment – Northern Ireland (DOENI)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI)
  • Health Service Executive (HSE)
  • Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
  • Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII)
  • University College Cork
  • University of Bergen, Norway
  • University of Ulster
Read more details
UGEE JRP – Where is the research being carried out?

The UGEE Joint Research Programme is composed of five projects and will involve field studies (baseline monitoring of water and seismicity), as well as an extensive desk-based literature review of UGEE practices worldwide. While elements of the research will relate to specific regions, it is the intention that the research will generally be applicable to the island of Ireland.

The baseline monitoring of Water and Seismicity will take place in three case-study areas (Co. Clare, Co. Leitrim & Co. Fermanagh). View more information at UGEE Research.

UGEE JRP - How will the UGEE Joint Research Programme address the impacts of fracking on human health?

“ As detailed in the Section 4.2.4 of the Revised Terms of Reference, “the wording “human/public health” throughout this document refers specifically and is limited to potential health impacts deriving from impacts on environmental media (e.g. exposure to chemicals, vibration, light, noise, and pollution of environmental media (i.e. soils, air & water). In addition, the wording “protecting human health” refers and is limited to preventing environmental factors from degrading human health.”

The research requires a review of health impact studies worldwide in order to develop a protocol.  This is set out in the Terms of Reference as a task under 5.2.3. Project-C: Regulatory Framework for Environmental Protection: “The potential role of Health Impact Assessment in regulation of UGEE projects/operations should be considered based on the experience in other countries, and recommendations should be made towards developing a protocol in the island of Ireland context.”

UGEE JRP - Will the UGEE Joint Research programme into Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction incorporate a Health Impact Assessment?

No.  The joint EPA/DCENR/NIA research programme into Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction will NOT incorporate a Health Impact Assessment. There is requirement in the Terms of Reference (Project C, Task 3) to specifically consider the potential role of Health Impact Assessment in regulation of UGEE projects/operations based on the experience in other countries and to make recommendations towards developing a protocol in the island of Ireland context.

UGEE JRP - Are we learning from other countries?

Yes. Part of the research programme involves the investigation of best practice in other jurisdictions.

UGEE JRP - When will it be finished?

The 24-month UGEE Joint Research Programme started in August 2014.  For an update on the status, please check UGEE Research.

UGEE JRP - When will the UGEE Joint Research Programme Interim Reports be published?

The UGEE Joint Research Programme (UGEE JRP) (EPA/DCENR/NIEA) is a 24-month program. Due to the inter-linkages between the  projects, composing the UGEE JRP, only the Final Reports will be published once the Research Programme has been completed.

UGEE JRP - Will there be public consultation on the UGEE Joint Research Programme Interim Reports?

As per our Summary Response document following the 2013 Public Consultation on the draft Terms of References, it is our opinion that public consultations on interim report would not be practicable within the delivery timeframe of the Research Programme.

UGEE JRP - What is the difference between the internal review process carried out by the Consortium & the External Review process of the UGEE JRP outputs?

While an internal review process is carried out by the Consortium as Quality Control process before submission of any interim/final deliverables of the UGEE JRP, all outputs are reviewed by a Technical Review Group which includes Steering Committee members and other external experts. Each reviewer is requested to sign a Confidentiality Statement & Declaration of Conflict of Interest. This process is fully independent from the internal quality control process put in place by the Consortium.


I have just purchased a new microwave, what should I do with the old one?

Since August 2005, consumers can recycle their old waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), free of charge, in the following ways:

  • Retailers are required by law to take back waste electrical goods and electronic equipment from customers free of charge.
  • Take back is on a one-for-one basis only and the appliance being returned must be of a similar type or have performed the same function as the new item purchased. For example, retailers are not obliged to accept a fridge where the consumer has purchased a toaster.
  • Where goods are bought over the counter, retailers must take back the old product in-store either at the time of sale or within a maximum of 15 days of the date of sale, provided the consumer can provide proof of purchase.
  • Where a new appliance or equipment is being delivered, for example a new washing machine, cooker etc., the seller of the product must take back the old appliance -
    • on the delivery of a new product either at the time of delivery, provided the old product has been cleaned and disconnected from any utilities and is ready for immediate collection, or
    • at their premises within a maximum of 30 days from the date of delivery.

Whichever take-back option a consumer avails of must be free of charge.  Additionally, each local authority must accept household WEEE free of charge at its civic amenity facilities from members of the public. Local authorities can no longer charge gate fees for WEEE.

The WEEE take-back service covers waste electrical and electronic items such as electric cookers, vacuum cleaners, fridges, dishwaters, televisions, as well as smaller electrical items such as hair dryers, portable music players, & radios.

What take back obligations are on producers/suppliers of WEEE to Businesses under the WEEE regulations?

Business to Business (B2B) producers are obliged to finance the takeback of historic and new B2B WEEE (Articles 17 & 18). From the 13th August 2005, each producer (or someone acting on his/her behalf) must finance the environmentally sound management of WEEE arising from(B2B) customers as follows:

  1. For historic B2B WEEE (equipment placed on the market prior to the 13th August 2005 that is now waste), the producer is obliged to take back WEEE of a similar type and function (irrespective of brand) when a business end user is purchasing new equipment from him/her. The producer is then responsible for the collection and environmental management of the WEEE.
    If the business end user is simply discarding the WEEE and not replacing it, the responsibility for ensuring the environmentally sound management of the WEEE remains with the business end user. An appropriately licensed and permitted waste management operator must be used to transport and manage the waste in both scenarios.
  2. For new WEEE (equipment placed on the market after the 13th August 2005 that will become waste), the producer must take back and manage WEEE from the business end user or make alternative financing arrangements with the business user i.e. there must be a formal agreement between both parties on how and who will finance the management of the WEEE. The WEEE must be transported and managed by appropriately licensed and permitted waste management operators.

However the supplier that supplied the original equipment may not be the 'Producer'. Also, does this equipment fall under the scope of the WEEE Regulations?  This can be clarified by contacting:

WEEE Register Society Ltd,
Dawson Street,
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1-2409320 / 2409321

Therefore, the business end user would need to determine the following;

  • Who was the original supplier of the old equipment?
  • Did they procure the old ones before 2005?
  • If their supplier is not a registered producer (see for producer) then who did the supplier get them from?
  • Ensure equipment is in scope of the Regulations
What should I do when a CFL reaches its end of life?

CFL’s, must never be placed in either your waste disposal or recycling bins.

  • Under the WEEE Directive, retailers are required by law to take back old CFL’s free of charge on a one-for-one basis when a householder is purchasing new CFL’s.
  • Each local authority must also accept old CFLs free of charge at its civic amenity facilities from members of the public. Local authorities cannot charge gate fees for these old CFL’s.
How do I clean up after a CFL bulb breaks?

As with any other glass products, caution should be taken to avoid injuries.  If a CFL accidentally breaks do not panic and take the following steps:

  1. Switch off the electricity
  2. Ventilate and leave the room for 15-30 minutes
  3. Wear rubber gloves and use robust card or similar to remove fragments
  4. Don’t use a vacuum cleaner 
  5. Wipe the area with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipes
  6. Carefully bag and seal all fragments gathered and materials used
  7. All cleaned up items should be disposed of at your local authority WEEE re-cycling facility

Please note, if you have concerns about the health effects please seek medical advice.


When is application of fertiliser (chemical, organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure) and farmyard manure) to land prohibited?

The periods when application of fertilisers to land is prohibited are specified in Schedule 4 of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014 as follows:

1. In counties Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

(a)  15 September to 12 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

(b)  15 October to 12 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

(c)   1 November to 12 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

2.  In counties Clare, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

(a)  15 September to 15 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

(b)  15 October to 15 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

(c)  1 November to 15 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

3. In counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

(a)  15 September to 31 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

(b)  15 October to 31 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

(c)  1 November to 31 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.



What precautions must be taken when applying fertiliser to land?

In order to prevent waters from being polluted by nitrogen and phosphorus, the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014 require that you must do the following:

  • You must spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, effluents and soiled water as accurately and as evenly as you can.
  • You must not use an upward-facing splash plate or sludge irrigator on a tanker or umbilical system for spreading organic fertiliser or soiled water.
  • You must not spread organic fertilisers or soiled water from a road or passageway, even if the road or passageway is on your own holding.
  • You must not spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure, soiled water or other organic fertilisers when:
    • The land is waterlogged;
    • The land is flooded, or it is likely to flood;
    • The land is frozen, or covered with snow;
    • Heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours (you must check the forecasts from Met Éireann).
    • The ground slopes steeply and there is a risk of water pollution, when factors such as surface run-off pathways, the presence of land drains, the absence of hedgerows to mitigate surface flow, soil condition and ground cover are taken into account.
  • You must not spread chemical fertiliser on land within 2 metres of a surface watercourse.
Read more details
Who is responsible for the enforcement of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014?

The Local Authorities (County Councils) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine are responsible for enforcement of the regulations and they undertake farm inspections to check compliance.  If Local Authorities find farmers contravening these Regulations, they must report them to the Cross Compliance Unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Regulations are also part of the Cross Compliance requirements under the Single Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by agreement with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, has taken on responsibility for the undertaking of Cross Compliance inspections for the Single Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes. In addition the Department carry out a proportion of farm inspections on behalf of Local Authorities.

The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine can impose financial penalties for non-compliances.

How close can a farmer apply organic fertiliser to a dwelling?

There are no regulations specifying the distance within which landspreading of organic fertiliser can occur in relation to a dwelling. 

The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014 specify buffers in relation to water supplies and/or watercourses and streams.

Where houses have a private well, organic fertiliser or soiled water shall not be applied to land within 25m of any borehole, spring, or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption (greater buffer distances of 100m and 200m apply to larger scale abstractions).

The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine have published  and Explanatory Handbood for Good Agricultural Practice for the Protections of Waters Regulations, 2014.

If you have any concerns in regard to such an activity you should contact your local authority.

Requirements of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014?

The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014 specify a significant number of controls in relation to managing the farmyard, managing fertilisers and nutrients, and keeping records. 

The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine have published an Explanatory Handbook for Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Waters Regulations 2014


Who should I contact regarding the disposal of asbestos?

What is asbestos?  Asbestos is a natural fibrous material.  There were three types of asbestos commonly used.  These are blue asbestos (crocidolite) brown asbestos (amosite) and white asbestos (chrysotile). 

Why was it used?   Asbestos was used because it is resistant to heat and chemicals and is strong yet flexible.  It was therefore widely used as a building and insulation material.  Asbestos is no longer used and therefore only items, which have been in place for, or were purchased before 1980, may contain asbestos.  If you are in doubt as to whether an item contains asbestos treat it with care and seek expert advice to identify it.

What are the risks?  There is only a risk from asbestos when damaged or if drilled or sawed etc.  It is at this point when fibres are released into the air.  Due to its fibrous nature it can be breathed in and penetrate deep into the lungs.  This can lead to asbestosis, and possibly lung cancer.  The general rule is that if you have asbestos and it is not damaged, it is safest to leave it in place.  The risk to health from undamaged asbestos is very low.

Where is Asbestos found?  Asbestos may be found in the following areas around the home:

  • Roofing felts, tiles and corrugated sheets
  • Roof and wall claddings
  • Pipe lagging
  • Fluepipes/gutters/rainwater downpipes/airbricks
  • Window boxes
  • Cold water cisterns
  • Roof slates and linings
  • Thermoplastic and vinyl floor tiles
  • Storage, catalytic and (LPG) portable heaters
  • Airing cupboard linings and shelving
  • Ironing boards
  • Insulation
  • Filler ropes surrounding oven doors
  • Textured paints

One of the most common forms of asbestos found is corrugated sheeting – this is mainly used as roofing material for garages and sheds.  

Relevant Information

If you think you have come across asbestos in your home or office and you're unsure about whether the material contains asbestos, don't take any chances. Seek expert advice from asbestos monitoring/surveying companies, which are listed in the Classified Telephone Directory.

A specialist contractor should be engaged to carry out work on asbestos products or to demolish asbestos products, particularly those that are worn or damaged.

In the case of asbestos products where the fibres are tightly bound (for example, in asbestos cement roofs), and the material is in good condition, specialist asbestos removal contractors may not always be necessary. 

Always take precautions, and contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for advice:

Health and Safety Authority
The Metropolitan Building,
James Joyce Street
Dublin 1
Tel. (01) 6147020 or 1890289389
Fax. (01) 6147020

Further information can be found at:

Health & Safety Authority

What entitlement do I have to access information from the EPA?

The EPA is committed to a policy of openness and transparency. All monitoring results and environmental quality information is available for access by the public on our website.  Information related to EPA licensing is also available to the public from our website or can be inspected in our offices.  Copies of information will also be provided but there may be a charge.  Most information generated by the EPA is made publicly available through published reports many of which are also available to purchase in hardcopy.   For further information, please see our pages on Access to Information on our website. 

What is the difference between EIA and EIS?

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process for anticipating the effects on the environment caused by a proposed development or project at a particular site.  Where effects are unacceptable, design or other measures can be taken to avoid or reduce these to acceptable levels.  The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document produced in the course of this process.  The EIS is assessed by the regulatory authorities.

View the Guidelines on information to be contained in Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).

Is the EPA responsible for wildlife and protecting natural habitats?

The EPA is responsible for reporting on nature conservation in its 'State of the Environment' reports.  However, responsibility for nature conservation lies with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) is part of the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government and is charged with the conservation of a range of habitats and species in Ireland. Some of its most important activities include:

Designation and protection of Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) & Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and,

Managing and developing our National Parks and Nature Reserves.

For further information please go to the National Parks and Wildlife Service website.


Does the EPA provide funding to PhD students?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does provide funding in support of Doctoral Scholarships. All research funding provided by the EPA, including that for doctoral scholarships, is awarded in response to calls for proposals issued by EPA STRIVE Programme. Calls for Doctoral scholarships are usually issued in March every year. Doctoral Scholarship proposals are normally submitted by College supervisors who if successful in their application then recruit a student to undertake the research. Any call for proposals will be advertised on the EPA website and a notification will be sent to all 3rd level research offices.

Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) FAQ's

What is the Industrial Emissions Directive?

The Industrial Emissions Directive which came into force on the 6th of January 2011 and came about as a result of a European Commission review of European legislation on industrial emissions. The review led to the commission proposing this directive on industrial emissions (The IED or Industrial Emissions Directive) which replaces seven existing directives namely:

  • The Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD)
  • The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC)
  • The Waste Incineration Directive (WID)
  • The Solvent Emissions Directive (SED) and 
  • Three existing directives on titanium dioxide.

Click here for link to the European Commission IED webpage


Timescales/ When will the IED apply to me?

Certain provisions of the Directive/Irish legislation will follow the implementation dates below:

  • implementation in Ireland from 23 April 2013 and applies to any new installations from this date onwards
  • implementation from 07 January 2014 in respect of existing installations
  • implementation by 07 July 2015 in respect of industrial activities not subject to the current IPPC Directive (2008/1/EC)
  • existing large combustion plants do not become subject to the requirements of Chapter III of the IED until 01 January 2016.
What does the IED mean for EPA licensing?

One of the main functions of the Environmental Protection Agency has been the licensing and control of specified activities that are listed in:

  • the Third and Fourth Schedules to the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended, and
  • the First Schedule to the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 as amended

Under these acts, the Agency has to date granted waste licences and IPPC licences respectively.

The Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU), as it has been transposed into Irish legislation, has changed the existing situation and has introduced a third class of licence that can be granted by the Agency, the Industrial Emissions Licence. The European Union (Industrial Emissions) Regulations have amended the First Schedule of the EPA Acts to state which activities are licensable in accordance with Annex I of the Industrial Emissions Directive and will require an Industrial Emissions Licence.

What does the IED specifically mean for Waste Licensing?

In relation to waste activities and of interest to waste licence applicants, the range of waste activities listed in the new First Schedule (class 11) has been expanded.

There is going to be a major change in the way that these First Schedule waste activities (class 11) will be licensed by the Agency. The First Schedule waste activities will in future be licensed by the Agency under:

  • the EPA Act 1992 as amended; and 
  • the European Union (Industrial Emissions) (Licensing) Regulations 2013

and not, as has been the case to date, under: 

  • the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended; and 
  • the Waste Management (Licensing) Regulations 2004.
For a waste class of activity already licensed under the Waste Management Act should I always be able to find a corresponding Class of Activity under the Industrial Emissions Directive?

The Industrial Emissions Directive has introduced a new type of licensing.  Whereas in the past we had waste licenses under the Waste Management Act as amended and IPPC licenses under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 as amended we now have a third type of licence - the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) licence.  Under the IED there is a new set of capacity thresholds (perhaps daily or annual capacity thresholds) which bring activities under the control of the IED and the thresholds may depend on the intended destination of the waste.  For example the composting of waste now has an associated threshold of 50 tonnes per day (Class 11.4(a)(i)) if the waste is destined for disposal but if the waste is intended for recovery, or a mix of disposal and recovery, then the threshold is 75 tonnes per day (Class 11.4(b)(i)).

Clearly then you will not find a direct correlation between classes of activity under IED and classes of activity under the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended.

When does Class 11.1 apply/ not apply?

A Class 11.1 activity must have a connection or association with another activity at the same licenced site and can only be an ‘additional’ class of activity.

Class 11.1 is not an IED class of activity.  Class 11.1 will generally only be applicable where there are non-IED classes of activity being carried on at a facility in addition to IED classes of activity.  Class 11.1 can be associated with any other IED activity, and not just other class 11 waste activities.  It is therefore not the case that Class 11.1 can be the only class applying to your activity.

Class 11.1 is the 'recovery or disposal of waste in a facility, within the meaning of the Act of 1996, which facility is connected or associated with another activity specified in this Schedule in respect of which a licence or revised licence under Part IV is in force or in respect of which a licence under the said Part is or will be required'.

What are the newly prescribed activities in the food and drink sector (activities which previously did not require a licence)?

Newly prescribed activities in the food and drink sector include those installations involved in:

  1. The treatment and processing for the production of feed from animal and/ or vegetable raw materials, where finished product production capacity exceeds 75 tonnes per day where 10% or more animal raw material is used and 300 tonnes per day if only vegetable raw material. 
  2. The treatment and processing for the production of food or feed from a mixture of animal and vegetable raw materials at specified daily production capacity (a sliding scale for mixed production in the range 75 to 300 tonnes per day applies where less than 10% animal raw material is used).
  3. The treatment and process for the production of feed on a seasonal basis of more than 600 tonnes per day for a period of no more than 90 days in any year.
Read more details
Could a landfill at a licensed site fall under Class 11.1 instead of 11.5?

A landfill that is covered by the IED will be licensed as class 11.5.  For a landfill to be class 11.1, it must be the following:

  • not a landfill subject to the IED; and
  • connected or associated with an IED activity.

Further guidance will issue on how to decide if a landfill is covered by the IED.

How do I interpret the term ‘Capacity’?

Many of the IED classes of activity talk about production capacity, consumption capacity, treatment capacity, etc., but how do you interpret the term ‘capacity.’ 

Simply put the term refers to both the legal (for example limitations placed on a production capacity by legislation, planning permission or licence) and the technical capacity of an installation (for example the technical or physical limitations on waste processing capacity as a result of infrastructure or machinery).

It should be noted that it is not considered sufficient/reliable to convert IED daily thresholds into annual thresholds in order to determine capacity.

For further discussion on the interpretation of “capacity” see the European Commission’s Guidance on Interpretation and Determination of Capacity under the IPPC Directive at 

How do I interpret the term ‘Pre-Treatment’ as it pertains to activities under Class 11.4(a)(iii) and 11.4(b)(ii)?

The term "pre-treatment" is not defined in the Industrial Emissions Directive.  The term "treatment" is defined in the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) as:

'recovery or disposal operations, including preparation prior to recovery or disposal'.

The term 'treatment' has the same meaning as 'pre-treatment'.

Operators who carry out recovery and/or disposal activities on waste followed by dispatch of the waste for incineration or co-incineration should be regarded as carrying out “pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration” for the purposes of the new First Schedule.

When deciding whether an activity comprises “pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration” for the purposes of the new First Schedule, applicants should consider what happens within the waste facility that is to be authorised, and not any treatment or pre-treatment that took place previously at another facility or the presence of waste segregation practices at the point of waste collection.

The following should not generally be regarded as constituting "pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration":

  • the incidental generation of waste from waste treatment activities and the dispatch of such incidental waste for incineration.

Solid recovered fuels and refuse derived fuels are often but not always produced to a technical specification that might also comprise a quality standard and/or a quality assurance scheme.  They are also often produced to be classified by the EWC codes 191210 or 191212.  The absence of:

  • a technical specification,
  • a quality standard, 
  • a quality assurance scheme, and/or 
  • EWC codes 19 12 10 and 19 12 12

for a solid recovered fuel or refuse derived fuel is not indicative that an activity does not comprise "pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration".

When is a landfill subject to the IED?

Text of class 11.5 of the First Schedule of the EPA Act 1992 as amended:

Landfills, within the meaning of section 5 (amended by Regulation 11(1) of the Waste Management (Certification of Historic Unlicenced Waste Disposal and Recovery Activity) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 524 of 2008)) of the Act of 1996, receiving more than 10 tonnes of waste per day or with a total capacity exceeding 25,000 tonnes, other than landfills of inert waste.

Text of class 5.4 of Annex I of the IED:

Landfills, as defined in Article 2(g) of Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste receiving more than 10 tonnes of waste per day or with a total capacity exceeding 25,000 tonnes, excluding landfills of inert waste.

The definition of landfill, as referenced in section 5 of the Act of 1996 and Article 2(g) of the Landfill Directive, is:

"landfill" means a waste disposal site for the deposit of waste onto or into land (i.e. underground), including:

  • internal waste disposal sites (i.e. landfill where a producer of waste is carrying out its own waste disposal at the place of production), and
  • a permanent site (i.e. more than one year) which is used for temporary storage of waste, but excluding
  • facilities where waste is unloaded in order to permit its preparation for further transport for recovery, treatment or disposal elsewhere, and
  • storage of waste prior to recovery or treatment for a period less than three years as a general rule, or
  • storage of waste prior to disposal for a period less than one year.
Read more details
What are the newly prescribed activities under First Schedule of the EPA Act 1992 as amended (existing installation not covered by the EPA Act to date)?

The following activities are newly prescribed and will require an Industrial Emissions Licence by 7th July 2015:

1.      The production of, organic/ inorganic chemicals, of phosphorus-based, nitrogen-based or potassium-based fertilisers, of plant health products and of biocides, of pharmaceutical products including intermediates, of explosives, provided that the activity concerns production by biological processing.

2.      The gasification and liquefaction of fuels other than coal, with a rated thermal input of 20MW or more.

3.      An activity specified in paragraph 7.8 (food and drink sector) that did not previously require a licence.

4.      In relation to the waste sector, certain waste licences will become IE licences and regulated under the EPA Act 1992 to 2013.

Given the complexity and scale of some IED activities, and in order to avoid possible delays caused by submitting an incomplete application, the EPA recommends that you engage in pre-application clarification/consultation prior to submitting your application for an IED licence. 

Contact the EPA Environmental Licensing Programme at if you wish to arrange a pre-application meeting.

When does the slaughtering activity end and food production activity begin at an installation?

Having regard to the scope of both the Slaughterhouses and Animal by-products Industries BREF and the Food, Drink and Milk Industries BREF, the ‘slaughter’ activity (class 7.4.1) is considered to end with the making of standard cuts for large animals and the production of a clean whole carcase for poultry.  Standard cuts are defined as carcases, half carcases, half carcases cut into no more than three wholesale cuts and quarters.  Chilling is considered part of the slaughtering class, if it is chilling of the carcase or standard cuts.  For the purposes of clarity, the slaughter activity covers the removal of offal and appendages. 


Whereas the deboning of carcases, mincing and packaging for retail etc. at meat installations are food production activities (class 7.8(a)(i)).   The production of food from animal raw materials with a finished product production capacity of greater than 75 tonnes/day (class 7.8(a)(i)) at a meat installation is an additional licensable activity to the slaughtering activity where it is carried on at the same installation.


What’s next for Large combustion plants – notice?

The Agency wishes to bring to your attention an impending date specified in the European Union (Large Combustion Plants) Regulations 2012 S. I. No. 566 of 2012 regarding the Limited life time derogation.

Where the operator of a combustion plant wishes to avail of the limited lifetime derogation under Regulation 11 of S.I. No. 566 of 2012, they must, inter alia, submit to the Agency by the 1 January 2014 a written Declaration not to operate the plant for more than 17,500 operating hours, starting from 1 January 2016 and ending no later than 31 December 2023, with plant closure thereafter.

Should you wish to avail of this derogation the Agency may need to amend or review your licence to ensure that the specific requirements of the LCP Regulations (S.I. No. 566 of 2012) are brought into effect and you will be notified of this in due course. These specific requirements are set out in Regulation 11 of S.I. No. 566 of 2012.


When does Class 11.6 apply?

A Class 11.6 activity is the temporary storage of hazardous waste pending any of the activities referred to in paragraph 11.2, 11.3, 11.5 or 11.7 with a total capacity exceeding 50 tonnes.  It does not apply to the temporary storage of hazardous waste on the site where the waste is generated and is awaiting collection. 

For example installations undertaking solvent reclamation or regeneration at a capacity greater than 10 tonnes/day, may also have a dedicated storage area for the associated hazardous waste.  Where the capacity of that dedicated waste storage area is greater than 50 tonnes, then class 11.6 applies.   It may be the case that the hazardous waste was generated on the site but as it is also undergoing solvent recovery at the installation, the dedicated storage area associated with the solvent recovery activity must be considered in the context of class 11.6. 


When is storage of waste an IED Activity ?

The storage of waste is a (pre-)treatment operation. In the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), ‘treatment’ means recovery or disposal operations, including preparation prior to recovery or disposal. Disposal and recovery operations are listed (in a non-exhaustive list) in Annex I and II respectively of the Directive. Activities D15 and R13 are storage operations, as follows:

  • D15 Storage pending any of the operations numbered D1 to D14 (excluding temporary storage, pending collection, on the site where the waste is produced.
  • R13 Storage pending any of the operations numbered R1 to R12 (excluding temporary storage, pending collection, on the site where the waste is produced.

If the storage operation takes place in what might be called the supply chain for “pre-treatment of waste for incineration or co-incineration”, then it is IED if over threshold because storage of waste is a waste recovery or disposal operation and therefore treatment.

What Is Temporary Storage of Waste?

According to the Waste Management Act 1996, as amended, the temporary storage of waste refers to the storage of waste for a period of not more than six months.


What is radiation?

Radiation is energy that is transmitted in the form of waves or particles. Scientists divide radiation into two broad categories – ionising radiation, and non-ionising radiation.

Ionising radiation is a proven hazard because it has enough energy to break apart molecules such as DNA which may in time lead to cancer. Non-ionising radiation does not have enough energy to cause such damage.

Where are we likely to come across ionising radiation?

We encounter ionising radiation constantly.  It occurs naturally in the rocks and soil, in the food and water we eat and drink, and bombards the earth’s atmosphere from outer space.  It is produced artificially, and widely used in medicine, industry and research.  It is used in X-rays, in radiotherapy to treat cancers, in smoke detectors, and in many industrial processes.  The production of electricity from nuclear power generates ionising radiation as a by-product.

Where do we come across non-ionising radiation?

Non-ionising radiation is generated by everyday energy sources, including light, heat, TV and radio signals, mobile phone signals, microwaves, and electro-magnetic fields associated with power lines.  The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is currently responsible for the health effects of non-ionising radiation including electromagnetic fields.

What are the health risks from radon?

Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer in Ireland and worldwide after tobacco smoking.  Radon is responsible for up to 250 lung cancer cases in Ireland every year.

How does radon get into buildings?

Radon comes from the ground and gets into buildings mainly through cracks in floors or gaps around pipes or cables. As the pressure inside a building is slightly lower than the pressure outdoors, radon will be drawn from the ground into the building. This phenomenon is known as pressure-driven flow.

What is a typical radon level in a house in Ireland?

Radon levels vary from house to house depending on where the house is located, its construction type and how it is used. The average indoor radon level in Irish houses is 89 becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3), although levels up to 550 times this value have been measured.

Is a neighbour's radon test result a good indication of the radon level in my home?

No. Radon levels vary from house to house. The only way of knowing the level in your house is to have a measurement carried out in your own house.

Could radon account for other illnesses apart from lung cancer?

No. According to current scientific knowledge, there is no other proven health effect associated with radon exposure. The risk of developing lung cancer depends on the level of radon present and the time one has been exposed.

How long does a measurement take?

The EPA recommends a minimum measurement duration of three months. This is because there can be significant day to day variations in radon levels. Therefore the only way of confidently assessing your radon risk is by carrying out a three month test.  Only the results of a measurement made over at least three months can be compared to the national Reference Level.

Is there a radon grant to help me with the cost?

There is no grant available to cover for the cost of radon remediation. Some radon reduction techniques are more expensive than others and each one will need to be assessed on a case by case basis. However the typical price for retrofitting a radon sump into a standard house is approximately €850 (ranging from €450-€1150). Other, less expensive options are available, for example, improving the ventilation in your home by installing extra wall vents. However, the most suitable method will depend on the radon levels and on the type of building.

A Scheme of Housing Aid for Older People is available to assist older people, generally over 65 years, to have repairs or improvements carried out to their homes. Where a suite of works is being grant aided under this scheme, Local Authorities may also, as part of the package of works, assist with the provision of radon remediation works, where applicable. Contact the Housing Section of your Local Authority for further information. Additional information is also available from Citizen Information website.

The Home Renovation Incentive scheme allows homeowners to qualify for tax credits at 13.5% of the cost of renovation, repair or improvement works. Full details of the scheme are available from the Revenue Commissioners.

I am building a new house - what radon prevention measures are required?

Specific guidance on radon prevention measures for new homes is contained in this document which is published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

This Guidance specifies that all homes built since 1st July 1998 must be fitted with a standby radon sump which can be activated at a later stage, to reduce high radon concentrations subsequently found. For homes built in High Radon Areas, the installation of a radon barrier as well as a standby radon sump is required.

I am building a new house – can I have the site tested for radon?

Although techniques are available for measuring radon levels in soil, it is very difficult to determine what the level in a new house will be from the results of soil measurements. For this reason, the EPA does not consider site radon measurements to be a reliable means of predicting, before construction, whether a building will have a high radon level. Instead the EPA recommends that the radon levels be measured soon after the house is occupied.

If my house is fitted with a radon barrier, can I be sure I won't have a radon problem?

No. Even if the radon barrier has been installed, it could have been damaged during the construction of the house. A single gap or hole in the barrier can make it ineffective. The only way of knowing is by testing your home for radon.

Medium Combustion Plant

What are the Medium Combustion Plant (MCP) Regulations and what is their purpose?

The Medium Combustion Plant Regulations were signed into law in December 2017. Their purpose is to limit emissions to atmosphere from boilers and other stationary combustion plants in the 1-50 MWTH (thermal input) range. It covers all fuel types. The Regulations transpose the Medium Combustion Plant (MCP) Directive ((EU) 2015/2193) which was adopted in 2015.

The regulations limit the level of emissions allowable from new combustion plants from 20th December 2018, while operators of existing MCPs will have longer to comply with stricter emission standards. This will assist in limiting the impact on human health, vegetation and biodiversity which can be caused by air pollution.

What is a ‘Medium Combustion Plant’?

A “combustion plant” is defined as “…any technical apparatus in which fuels are oxidised in order to use the heat thus generated” so it will cover boilers, turbines, and engines.  The regulations apply to both new and existing equipment, between 1 and 50MWth.  Regulation 4(3) sets out exemptions for some specific combustion plants.

They are referred to as ‘medium’ because large combustion plants ‘LCP’ (i.e. those >50 MWTH) are covered by the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EC), while small combustion plants (up to 500 kWTH) are covered by the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC).

What differentiates a ‘new’ from an ‘existing’ Medium Combustion Plant and why is this important?

An “existing medium combustion plant” means a medium combustion plant put into operation before 20 December 2018. A ‘new’ medium combustion plant” is any MCP that is not existing, i.e. an MCP first put into operation on or after 20th December 2018.

A new MCP must meet the relevant requirements of the Regulations from the date it is put into operation. For example, an MCP first put into operation on 20th December 2018 must be registered by this date (unless it is on an installation controlled by an IED or IPC licence), and is required to meet the relevant emission limit values from this date.

An existing MCP is not required to be registered until 2024 (5 – 50MWth) or 2029 (1 – 5 MWth), and the relevant emission limit values will not apply until 2025 and 2030 respectively.

What do the Regulations require of MCP operators?

The main requirements are as follows:

  • Each MCP must be registered with the EPA by the specified date, unless it is on an installation controlled by an IED/IPC licence from the EPA.
  • Operators must provide information to the competent authority for the purposes of registration.
  • The MCP must comply with emission limit values (ELVs) for SO2, NOx and dust, by the dates referred to above.
  • Emissions (SO2, NOx, dust and carbon monoxide (CO)) must be monitored at least every 3 years for plants up to 20 MWth, or at least annually for plants greater than 20 MWth.

In addition the regulations require registered operators to keep various records relating to the operation of the plant and emissions monitoring, and specifies other obligations such as notifying the Agency of non-compliances. See Regulation 14 for full details.

I operate an MCP on an IED licensed installation. What do I need to do?

For existing MCP, no specific action is required of you. Where you propose to operate a new MCP, this will need to be authorised by the Agency prior to operation, either by means of a Condition 1 approval, Technical Amendment or licence review.

Tell me more about the Emission Limit Values (ELVs)

ELVs are set in the regulations based on combustion plant type, size, fuel type, and age ( i.e. new or existing). These can be seen in a series of tables in Schedule 2 of the Regulations. Note also the detailed footnotes that clarify and, in some cases, modify the ELVs for specific applications.

These ELVs are default values that may be reduced by the Agency in particular instances where lower ELVs are required for environmental protection purposes. This might occur where, for example, air quality problems in an area are considered by the Agency to be caused or partly caused by MCP emissions. [See Regulations 11(5) and 11(6)].

What about emergency generators?

The regulations make special provision for MCP such as emergency generators, which operate intermittently or rarely. Where these MCP operate less than 500 hours per year (as a rolling average over 5 years), they are exempt from some of the specified ELVs. Where necessary for environmental protection, the regulations allow the Agency to reduce this number of hours in specific circumstances for specific plant (similar to the provisions for reducing ELVs). [See Regulations 13(1), 13(3) and 20(4)(c)].

Are there any other exemptions or derogations?

There is a range of exemptions, derogations, and variations from the default limit values, which are set out in Regulations 11, 12 and 13, and in the footnotes in Schedule 2.

What do MCP operators need to do now?

Anyone operating or planning to operate an MCP should ensure that they understand the obligations of the Regulations, in particular, the applicable ELVs. Pay attention to the associated footnotes, and the various exemptions and derogations that may be applicable.

Operators planning to buy or install new MCP should ensure that new plants are specified to meet the ‘new plant’ ELVs set out in Schedule 2 Part 2 of the Regulations.

Operators of existing MCPs should monitor SO2, NOx, dust and CO emissions to determine whether specific measures will be required to achieve compliance. These operators have until January 2025 (5- 50MWth) or January 2030 (1 – 5 MWth) to achieve compliance.

What are the EPA requirements for monitoring emissions from MCP?

The European Union (Medium Combustion Plants) Regulations 2017 requires that periodic monitoring of emissions to atmosphere from medium combustion plants is carried out. Air emissions sampling and analysis is a particularly difficult aspect of environmental monitoring, and specialist equipment is required to be used. Both the sampling and analysis stages of air emissions monitoring require a high level of competency and quality control. Most MCP facilities will not carry out their own air emissions monitoring, but will instead employ a contractor to carry out the monitoring and provide a report, which can be submitted to the EPA. The EPA generally supports the approach of using external specialist service providers, and would not recommend that facilities attempt to carry out their own air emissions monitoring.

In order to ensure the generation of consistent high quality and robust monitoring data from MCP facilities, it is a mandatory requirement that all air emissions monitoring carried out is performed by an ISO 17025 accredited air monitoring contractor. Accredited air emission monitoring contractors operating in Ireland either receive their accreditation from the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB), or else they operate under the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

The details of the INAB ISO17025 accredited air emissions monitoring contractors are as follows:

The Irish-based contractors who hold UKAS ISO17025 accreditation for air emissions monitoring are as follows:

You must ensure that the air monitoring contractor you intend to use for EPA compliance monitoring holds ISO17025 accreditation. The EPA will not accept monitoring results from a monitoring contractor, who does not hold accreditation to the ISO17025 standard.

Where do I go with additional queries?

Please send any additional queries to using the subject heading ‘Medium Combustion Plant’.