COMPLAINTS about smells, noise and pollution from factories and industrial sites almost doubled last year.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes the surge in incidents reported by the public was due to people being stuck at home and more likely to notice problems in their own locality.
The number of complaints jumped from under 700 to more than 1,200 during the year with the greatest increase relating to odours.
A total of 683 complaints were received about smells compared to 300 in 2019. April, the first full month of lockdown, saw the highest number of complaints overall, with 187 lodged.
The EPA is responsible for licencing and monitoring activities at 830 factories and industrial installations across the country and it said 86pc of them attracted no complaints at all.
But it added it was seriously concerned about a number of plants on its ‘national priority sites’ list for the second year in a row.
The Arrow Group attracted 198 complaints about its operations in Naas, Co Kildare where its site includes Dawn Farm Foods, the Culinary Food Group, QK Coldstores and Maudlins Waste Management. Odours and noise were the main issues reported.
The next most complained about site was Tipperary Co-operative Creamery in Tipperary town which attracted 138 complaints.
Limerick Gasworks, the former gas site undergoing remediation works, and Merck Millipore, a pharmaceutical plant in Cork city, also prompted more than 100 complaints each.
Others in the top ten most-complained-about sites were Irish Cement in Limerick, Diageo’s James Gate brewery in Dublin, Starrus Eco Holdings waste facility in Fassaroe near Bray, Dairygold in Mallow, Rosderra Irish Meats in Edenderry and Hermitage Farms pig farm in Clifden.
Darragh Page of the EPA said enforcement action was being taken against Arrow Group as well as another company spending a second year as a national priority site, Arran Chemical Company in Roscommon, the latter because of issues with air emissions and groundwater contamination.
“The continued poor compliance status and presence of the Arrow Group and Arran Chemical Company Limited on the national priority sites list is of serious concern to the EPA and they are both the subject of ongoing enforcement action to resolve the environmental issues and to bring them into compliance,” Mr Page said.