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Watchdog denies lobbying for power producers

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The comments are contained in a report called 'Smoke and Mirrors - How Europe's biggest polluters became their own regulators'

The comments are contained in a report called 'Smoke and Mirrors - How Europe's biggest polluters became their own regulators'

The comments are contained in a report called 'Smoke and Mirrors - How Europe's biggest polluters became their own regulators'

THE State's environmental watchdog has denied accusations of "copying and pasting" submissions from polluting industries as part of negotiations aimed at improving air quality.

Greenpeace says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was among a number of EU regulators which were "advocating" the position of polluting companies, including power generators, as part of a bid to avoid introducing higher standards which would reduce air pollution.

The comments are contained in a report called 'Smoke and Mirrors - How Europe's biggest polluters became their own regulators'. Greenpeace said that key texts submitted by the EPA as part of the process were exact copies of those presented by an industry lobby group.

"Even genuinely independent EU country representatives have been known to advocate the positions of polluting companies, often using statements directly copied from industry representatives," it said.

"In a particularly blatant case, delegates from ... Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency argued for weaker emission limits using a statement that was identical to a comment tabled by power company lobby group Eurelectric."

Submissions from the EPA and the lobby group both said part of the compliance process appeared "overly bureaucratic, and contrary to Member State desires to reduce red tape".

But the EPA rejected claims that it had been hijacked by the industry, saying it was required under EU law to submit the views of all affected parties.

"All member states consult with the relevant industrial sector at various stages...to ensure that the member state is aware of any issues of particular concern to the industry," it said.

"Please be advised that at no time would the EPA have had any liaison or contact with (a company) on this matter."

A spokesman added that the agency did not necessarily agree with the comments made by industry, but was required to bring those views to the negotiating table.

"They cannot make the assumption that the agency is influenced by the industry. We wouldn't be thinking at all about the industry's problems, but about the best standards for air quality. We fight that hard.

"We might bring the views of the industry into the meeting, but may take a completely different view. We are not putting it forward as the EPA's view. We say representatives from the industry asked us to submit it."

Irish Independent