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Tuesday 11 December 2018

Agri-food industry must clean up its act, says EPA

More than half of all sites considered to pose the greatest risk of breaching pollution regulations are involved in the food and drink sector. Stock image. GettyImages
More than half of all sites considered to pose the greatest risk of breaching pollution regulations are involved in the food and drink sector. Stock image. GettyImages
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

More than half of all sites considered to pose the greatest risk of breaching pollution regulations are involved in the food and drink sector.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the agri-food sector needs to clean up its act due to the high number of processors found which do not comply with their licences.

The 'Industrial and Waste Licence Enforcement 2017' report, to be published today, identifies five sites which the environmental watchdog has prioritised for enforcement action.

It names the Arrow Group, in Kildare, Lacpatrick Dairies Ltd, in Monaghan, Rosderra Irish Meats Group (Edenderry), in Offaly, Starrus Eco Holdings Ltd (Munster), in Cork, and Western Brands Group Ltd, in Mayo.

All but Starrus Eco Holdings are in the food and drink sector.

The EPA said 19 sites had been included on a list of priority sites for enforcement over the last year, of which almost 60pc were from the agri-food sector.

"The national priority sites system has exceeded our expectations as a tool to drive environmental compliance," spokesperson Mary Gurrie said.

"Companies have come off the list in the past year by improving operational practices or making significant investment in infrastructure.

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"Sites in the agri-food sector have dominated the list with 11 of 19 sites, and compliance in this sector needs to improve."

The EPA added that the food and drink sector had the most number of non-compliances with licences, and the highest number of prosecutions.

The report finds:

  • Some 1,522 site visits were carried out last year, of which 91pc were unannounced. Seven of the most visited sites were in the waste sector;
  • 73pc of complaints related to odour and noise;
  • Sites from the food and drink sector appeared on the National Priority List more than any other sector;
  • €374,000 was imposed in fines, costs and charitable donations last year.

The EPA monitors 807 licensed facilities, and detected 1,619 non-compliances with licensing conditions last year.

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