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)
Mr. Roger Harrington:
I will respond first to Dr. Lynch fand then Deputy Eoin Ó Broin.
Dr. Lynch has certainly outlined what is a challenging work agenda for us in the Department in dealing with these matters. What we intend to have is separate stand-alone legislation dealing with microbeads. We are not anticipating including this piece of legislation with any other legislation such as legislation to deal with the maritime area or the foreshore (amendment) Bill.
Dr. Lynch mentioned maritime spatial planning. We set up a separate unit within the Department that is advancing work on that matter. We have recently published a roadmap in that regard. Again, it will not have any real impact on our achievements. The resources we are receiving will be prioritised to deal with the microbeads Bill. I do not see any particular change to what I have set out.
Dr. Lynch mentioned marine protected areas which are also of great interest to the committee. It is an area for which we want to provide a legislative basis. Initially, the priority again will be dealing with microbeads.
I thank Deputy Eoin Ó Broin for his helpful remarks. As I mentioned, I am getting a clear sense of the interest of the committee and the Oireachtas in this area. It has been clearly noted. I also thank the Deputy for his helpful comments on the engagement between the United Kingdom and the European Commission. I was reflecting the initial legal advice we had received, but as we go into the matter in some depth, it may move to the scenario described by the Deputy. We have been advised on an interim basis that there is a need for engagement with the Commission which has stated it wants robust justification in that regard. We are all agreed that we are not going back to first principles in providing an evidence base for the Commission. Some of our colleagues have given the results of their research. As I see it, it is about the collation and distillation of the research and analysis that has been undertaken. It is about saying to the Commission that there is a problem and evidence to represent the problem before proposing a legislative solution.
I will ask my colleague to make some brief points on the other questions concerning the definitions of plastics and enforcement.