The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carried out 48 inspections at ‘unauthorised peat extraction sites’ in 2021.

The EPA published its annual summary report on the enforcement activities carried out in 2021 this week, along with the list of sites which were designated a ‘National Priority Site’ during the year.

The agency says that, despite the ongoing impact of Covid-19, it increased its enforcement activities at the 840 licenced industrial and waste installations throughout Ireland.

The report outlines the main issues at licenced activities during 2021 and what actions the EPA took to enforce environmental conditions at these activities.

Individuals or companies who operate either without an EPA licence or breach that licence were targeted by the EPA for enforcement.

Some of the main facts in the report which the EPA highlighted include:

  • 1,295 inspections at EPA licenced sites during the year, a 19% increase compared with 2020;
  • 48 inspections at unauthorised peat extraction sites;
  • 41 inspections at waste licenced sites, with a focus on improving fire risk management;
  • The removal of 14 sites from the EPA’s Water Framework Directive ‘significant pressure’ list;
  • 11 sites were identified as National Priority Sites in 2021, a decrease from the twelve sites in 2020.

Commenting on the publication of the annual summary report, Dr. Tom Ryan, director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said: “The EPA focused its enforcement efforts in 2021 on tackling unauthorised extraction of peat; improving water quality downstream of licenced sites; and the safe and appropriate management of waste.

“Our enforcement activities are risk-based and are targeted at sites that are not complying with their EPA licence requirements. We carried out almost 1,300 inspections of industrial and waste licenced activities and a further 55 inspections of unauthorised activities which require a licence or must cease operation.”

The EPA simultaneously published the latest National Priority Sites list for 2021. The EPA says it will continue to focus its resources where they are most needed and to ensure compliance at all sites.

These 11 sites are as follows:

SiteCountySector Issue
Arran Chemical CompanyRoscommonChemicalAir emissions / groundwater contamination
Arrow GroupKildareFood and DrinkOdour/noise
Ballyguyroe LandfillCorkLandfillLandfill gas / leachate management
Diageo IrelandDublinFood and DrinkNoise
Hermitage FarmsKilkennyAgricultureOdour
North Cork Co-op CreameriesCorkFood and DrinkEmissions to water
Saint-Gobain ConstructionMonaghanMineral extractionEmissions to water
Staunton FoodsCorkFood and DrinkNoise
Timoleague Agri GenCorkAgricultureSite management / lack of required infrastructure
Tipperary Co-operative CreameryTipperaryFood and DrinkEmissions to water
Western Brand GroupMayoFood and DrinkEmissions to water