Ireland last to put EU environment treaty into law
IRELAND has been dragging its heels when it comes to enacting EU legislation which gives the public greater involvement in decision making on environmental issues.
According to new research, Ireland remains the only EU country yet to ratify the Aarhus Treaty which recognises every person's right to a healthy environment.
The research, just completed at the Centre of Sustainability in Sligo Institute of Technology was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental researcher Michael Ewing, who headed the research team, said the question of why Ireland had yet to ratify the Aarhus Treaty had to be addressed.
"We are now the only country left and we need to do whatever it takes to get it ratified. We also need to educate the public and the administrative bodies on the nature of the Aarhus convention."
His research has also uncovered the failure of many local authorities to act on new environmental regulations, a year after they became law.
The 2003 EU directive on Access to Information on the Environment, which was enshrined into Irish Law in April 2007, requires local authorities and other public bodies to respond to queries from the public within one month.
But in a survey to determine how familiar local authority staff were with the new legislation, it emerged that of all the local authorities contacted, just half responded to the request and, of those, one-third knew little or nothing about it.
A second EU directive entitling people to have greater participation in decision-making, which was adopted by the EU in 2003, has yet to be ratified by Ireland and Italy, two years after the deadline.
A spokesperson for Environment Minister John Gormley said that the minister would be delighted to meet with Mr Ewing to discuss his findings.