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County Councils

Report: Here are the counties performing the best and worst on local environment issues

The EPA has identified the highest and lowest-performing local authorities on issues like air and water quality and waste.

A NEW REPORT has identified the highest and lowest-performing local authorities with regards to their work on environmental issues such as air and water quality and waste.

Kildare, Dublin City, Leitrim, Monaghan and Fingal performed the best in 2021 at contributing to national priorities around waste, water, air and noise, and relevant governance processes.

Meanwhile, Offaly, Mayo, Sligo, Wexford and Waterford performed the worst.

Across the country, most local authorities performed well in some areas but none performed well at all 20 national priorities. These include tasks such as septic tank inspections, tackling illegal waste, air quality monitoring and handling environmental complaints.

That’s according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2021 report published today titled ‘Focus on Local Authority Environmental Enforcement’.

The report identified that water quality around Ireland is declining and the number of water complaints increased by 14% to 3,600 in 2021.

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Despite more than 1,000 bodies of water being negatively impacted by agriculture, farm inspections last year were 43% below the number carried out prior to Covid-19.

No local authority ranked ‘strong’ or ‘excellent’ across five categories of water enforcement but Leitrim, Meath, Monaghan and Wicklow met the required standard in four of the five areas.

However, six failed to meet any of the required standards for water – Laois, Mayo, Offaly, South Dublin, Sligo, Waterford City and Waterford County.

The best local authorities at air and noise enforcement were Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Kerry, Kildare, and Monaghan, while Louth, Offaly, South Dublin, Sligo and Wexford were the worst.

Looking at waste enforcement, only four local authorities were considered to have been ‘strong’ or ‘excellent’ – Fingal, Kildare, Leitrim and Limerick – while six failed to meet the required standards across multiple areas  – Kerry, Laois, Mayo, Offaly, Sligo and Wexford. 

And in relation to relevant governance processes, Cork County, Dublin City, Fingal, Galway City, Longford and Monaghan met all of the required standards while Mayo and Wexford failed to meet any.

In a statement, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement Dr Tom Ryan said that local authorities “have a fundamental role to play in protecting the environment within their counties and their performance in that role needs to improve”.

“The EPA’s report shows that less than half of the 620 performance assessments undertaken across 20 national environmental enforcement priorities achieved the required standard in 2021,” he said.

“The local environmental challenges are great.

The water quality in our rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters is in decline and there are concerning localised issues that are impacting negatively on the air we breathe.

“The segregation of waste streams, which is so critical to supporting materials reuse in the development of a circular economy, is not as good as it needs to be.”

The report’s overall conclusion was that local authorities must use their resources more effectively to improve air and water quality and waste segregation.

Farm inspections and enforcements should increase to reduce the impact of agricultural activities on water quality, the report found, and local authorities should better enforce the segregation of domestic and commercial waste and the management of construction and demolition waste.

Inspections of fuel sellers to ensure only approved fuels are being sold around the country should be prioritised to protect human health from harmful air pollutants, it said.

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