Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Prohibition of Micro-Plastics Bill 2016: Discussion (Resumed)
Dr. Kevin Lynch:
It is important that we differentiate between sources. There are terrestrial sources of plastics pollution, one of which is manufacturing, within which there are dispersed sources. It is the manufacturing side of the problem that we are looking at today. If we try to tackle all of the problems in one go, we will never find a solution to tackle all of them. We will have to proceed through introducing pieces of legislation. That is why a piece such as this is good. The need for evidence is clear, but there is also a need to invoke the precautionary principle; in other words, we do not need specific evidence on every part of the coast to say this is a problem.
As we know from international research that it is a problem, we should move, rather than wait for evidence, but in saying that we also need to know if the legislation will be successful. We must monitor it as we go along to see if it is working.
Mr. Harrington has said he has two new staff resources to work on marine and environmental areas. There is, of course, the likelihood that the priorities for the people in question will change in time such that they will be moved from particular areas such as dealing with this legislation and microplastics to foreshore legislation which has been sitting there for a while. Marine spatial planning is coming into force and we are working on putting it together on a national scale. We have also been waiting on marine protected areas for a while. Therefore, I can see the new staff being overwhelmed very quickly. If we can get focused legislation like this through in a timely manner, we could start to work on some of the other problems we face.