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State faces multimillion fines over environmental law breaches

IRELAND is facing the prospect of a multimillion-euro fine from the EU over 'shortcomings' in domestic environmental law.

The European Commission said yesterday it is "urging Ireland to bring its national legislation on assessing the effects of projects on the environment into line with EU rules.

"Despite considerable interaction with the commission, legislation on environmental impact assessments in Ireland still contains shortcomings and the commission is referring Ireland back to the European Court of Justice and requesting that it impose a lump-sum fine of over €1.8m and a daily penalty payment of over €19,000 for each day after the second court ruling until the infringement ends."


The fines date back to a European Court ruling in March last year that Ireland had not yet brought all the measures of an EU directive on environmental impact assessment into law.

The directive is designed to "ensure that projects likely . . . to have significant effects on the environment are subject to an impact assessment."

The commission said it was still concerned with full implementation of article 3 which is aimed at avoiding "any negative consequences of split decision making between Irish planning authorities and the Irish Environment Protection Agency, and the exclusion of demolition works".

The Government said at the time it intended to implement the legislation by the end of May this year, but has not yet done so, the EU said.

The Government is in breach of the directive because it has not implemented the legislation in full in Irish law.

Even if the court does find Ireland has broken the rules, the Government would be given a month to get the relevant legislation passed. A government spokesman called the commission's decision "regrettable".

Irish Independent