Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht
Forthcoming Environment Council: Discussion with Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
I welcome the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, and the officials from his Department, and thank them for their attendance. The Minister's opening statement and any other documents submitted to the committee may be published on the committee website after this meeting.
I thank the Vice Chairman for the invitation to meet the committee today to discuss the agenda for the next meeting of the EU Environment Council, which takes place on the 13 December in Brussels.
As this is my first appearance before the committee on EU matters since Ireland held the Presidency of the EU, I take this opportunity to touch briefly on achievements in the area of environment and sustainable development during our Presidency. As I said when I addressed the committee in December 2012, our environmental Presidency objectives were quite ambitious in terms of advancing strategic policy, progressing certain legislative dossiers, and leading the EU in a very constructive and progressive way in international negotiations. I also expressed confidence that we would have a very credible record of achievement under our belts, and l am pleased to report back that we delivered in all these areas.
Where strategic policy is concerned, we paved the way for a better environment for the citizens of Europe by securing agreement on the 7th Environmental Action Programme.
The agreed programme will guide and drive actions in advancing resource efficiency, the green economy and the environmental agenda generally in the period to 2020 and beyond. We also succeeded in adopting Council conclusions on a climate change adaptation strategy which outlines how the EU can become more climate-resilient and can share experiences and expertise at EU, national and local levels to plan for a changing environment.
We achieved significant successes on major legislative files which are critically important to our climate and environment agendas. l am proud to say that, overall, we achieved no less than seven first reading agreements on environmental legislative dossiers, an excellent legacy of work for the Irish EU Presidency.
In the interactional arena we also had a demanding agenda, leading for the EU at what were often very complex negotiations. Here again, there were significant successes, including reaching agreement on a new global, legally-binding treaty on mercury.
Intensive EU Presidency planning started in my Department over three years ago and has, as I have just outlined, paid great dividends. This preparatory process included ensuring that the number of infringement cases instituted against Ireland by the European Commission in respect of environmental legislation was significantly reduced. I am pleased to confirm the number of these cases now stands at ten which compares with a figure of 19 when I assumed office in March 2011.
Turning now to the Council agenda for next week's meeting, discussions will take place on two legislative deliberations. First, the Council will consider a proposal for a regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species. My colleague, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, will also attend the Council to represent Ireland in discussions on this agenda item.
The EU Presidency has posed two groups of questions for Ministers to discuss in respect of the development of a list of invasive alien species of union concern. This discussion will assist and direct the Council in its work on the proposed regulation over the coming months.
By way of background to this agenda item, I should state that invasive alien species are species that are transported through human action outside of their natural range across ecological barriers. They then survive, reproduce and spread with likely negative impacts on the ecology of their new location, as well as potentially serious economic and social consequences, for example, in the area of human health. Their impact on biodiversity can be significant, being one of the major causes of biodiversity loss and species extinction. They can also cause serious damage to infrastructure, forestry, agriculture, aquaculture and recreational facilities. In Ireland, species classified as invasive alien species would include the grey squirrel and mink, as well as particular plant species like certain weeds.
At the moment, there is no overarching legislative framework in the EU for dealing with this issue. This lack of a co-ordinated approach can mean that positive work in one member state can be undermined by lack of action in others. The proposed regulation aims to tackle the problem by establishing a framework for action to prevent, minimise and mitigate the adverse impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to limit social and economic damage.
It will seek to do this by banning the intentional introduction of "species of Union concern" into the EU, putting in place measures to combat the unintentional introduction and release of such species, setting up an early-warning and rapid response system, and eradicating, or at least controlling, the most harmful ones throughout the EU.
Overall, like other member states, Ireland broadly welcomes the proposal as an important framework for managing a particularly difficult and costly problem. However, there is some concern regarding the resource implications and the availability of funding needed to properly implement the regulation. That said, the long-term cost of inaction cannot be underestimated.
There is also concern arising from the commission's proposal to cap the number of species covered by the regulation, which could restrict member states' ability to manage species of specific domestic concern. In this regard, my ministerial colleague, Deputy Deenihan, will be seeking to ensure that the proposed regulation will not impinge on our domestic legislation and on the systems we already have in place for dealing with invasive alien species of particular national concern.
The second discussion to take place in Council is on a proposed regulation on the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport. While this is a policy matter for my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, the issue will be dealt with through the Environment Council and I will be representing Ireland at Council in these discussions.
The main objective of the draft regulation is to establish a European system for the monitoring, reporting and evaluation of CO2 emissions from ships as a first step of a staged approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Member states are required to establish a system of penalties, information exchange and expulsion orders for non-compliance with the regulation.
There are no major implications for Irish shipping interests. The scope of the regulation targets ships over a threshold of 5,000 gross tonnes. There are only eight ships above this threshold on the Irish register at present. However, there will be some resource implications for the maritime survey office of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The proposal is currently being examined by the Environment Council's working group and we, along with many other member states, are awaiting clarifications from the commission regarding definitions and implications.
Over lunch, ministers will have an informal discussion on the implementation of the commitments reached at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, more commonly known as Rio+20. Discussions covering a number of strands are continuing under the auspices of the United Nations on developing a sustainable development framework to apply from 2015 onwards. Intergovernmental negotiations will commence towards the end of 2014 to agree this post-2015 agenda as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals.
At the end of the day's business, the Council will consider a small number of items under the any other business heading, during which information will be provided to Council. While detailed debate is not expected on the items listed, I will briefly touch on them now.
First, the Presidency will be providing a report on the recent climate change COP held in Warsaw last month. As members of the committee may know, I attended the high-level segment of the Warsaw conference which was the first of three COPs towards the anticipated finalisation of a new global agreement in Paris in December 2015. Although negotiations were difficult, the Warsaw COP saw the agreement of a work programme and timeline from Warsaw to Paris designed to deliver ambitious mitigation commitments from all countries. It made progress towards a framework for parties to come forward with their commitments in a transparent manner, well in advance of the Paris COP in December 2015, and set out a number of ways in which pre-2020 ambition will be enhanced and accelerated.
The main focus of the EU and other developed-country parties was on securing a clear process and milestones to get all parties, including developing countries, to bring meaningful emission reduction commitments to the table early in 2015. In that way, there can be robust analysis to see whether we are on track globally to keep temperature increases below two degrees and to see whether there is a fair share of efforts being undertaken by those countries able to do so, especially the larger economies currently outside the Kyoto commitments process, like China, Brazil, the US, India and others.
The EU had four priorities in Warsaw: sending a clear signal that parties had to start the domestic analysis needed to come forward with mitigation commitments in the 2015 agreement; a timeline from Warsaw to Paris designed to deliver ambitious mitigation commitments; agreement that, when parties come forward with their commitments, they would have to do so in a way that is transparent and allows them to be easily understood, sufficiently in advance of Paris; and agreement on a process to assess proposed commitments to ensure they are fair and sufficiently ambitious.
The consensus decisions adopted by the parties delivered the first three of these and creates a space to ensure the last objective in relation to achieving the ultimate objective of the convention - the below two degrees goal - is met.
While on climate matters, let me turn briefly to the domestic front. First of all, l thank the joint committee for its recently published report on the outline heads of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill and the associated analysis report by the NESC secretariat. I am grateful to the committee for facilitating a debate on national policy and legislation through inviting written submissions from interested individuals and groups as well as in conducting oral hearings.
I welcome the fact that the joint committee acknowledges that Ireland's greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the periods to 2030, 2040 and 2050 should be as ultimately agreed by member states as part of any future effort-sharing decision agreed at EU level. Having said that, we should not be without a clear vision for the future, as proposed by the joint committee in its interpretation of low carbon development.
Although the joint committee's many possible courses of action remain under consideration, my preliminary view is that reducing the intervals between proposed national roadmaps for emission reductions from seven to five years is a good one, so as to enable rapidly changing circumstances both nationally and internationally to be addressed. Similarly, I believe that the joint committee's emphasis on strengthening the functioning of the proposed national expert advisory body on climate change is well grounded, and I will be examining closely how this can be achieved institutionally and operationally. In this regard, empowering the expert advisory body to directly publish its annual reports is a reasonable accommodation which I would like to see in the final draft heads of the Bill.
In the main, the joint committee's report constitutes a constructive and helpful addition to the debate on the Bill. I have asked my officials to carefully analyse the report with a view to identifying appropriate changes to the provisions in the forthcoming climate action and low carbon development Bill.
I will now finish with some brief comments on the remaining AOB items on the Council's agenda. The Lithuanian Presidency will provide a brief update on a proposal for a directive on promoting the use of energy from renewable sources. This proposal seeks to amend both the renewable energy directive and the fuel quality directive, with a view to minimising the impact of indirect changes of land use on greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission published a report in 2010 on indirect land use change, ILUC, related to biofuels and bio-liquids, which acknowledged that ILUC can impact on potential greenhouse gas emissions savings associated with biofuels.
In relation to aviation aspects of the EU emissions trading system, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, assembly recently decided on the development of a global market-based mechanism for international aviation to be finalised at the next assembly in 2016, with implementation to take place by 2020. In response to this, the European Commission has brought forward a proposal amending the EU emissions trading system directive.
This proposal would apply from 2014 to 2020 when it is expected that a global market-based mechanism would become applicable. Discussions at a working party level are currently taking place on the European Commission proposal with the next meeting scheduled for 6 December. In general, Ireland welcomes the proposal as a way forward which allows further negotiations on a global agreement to reduce aviation emissions. The Commission will present a proposal for a directive on packaging and packaging waste to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags.
The introduction of a plastic bag levy in Ireland has been one of the major success stories in terms of Ireland's environmental performance in the last decade and we are leading the way in terms of our efforts to reduce consumption. The levy has been hugely successful and has very significantly altered consumer behaviour. Our strong performance in this area means that we are to the fore in pioneering progressive policies and in significantly reducing use of such bags.
Ireland welcomes efforts to reduce the consumption of plastic carrier bags and we hope that our efforts and successes have been helpful to the Commission in developing its proposals. However, it will be important that we are not made to suffer as a result of our previous strong performance in this area. Our progress has been so extensive that further reductions will be more difficult for Ireland to achieve than for other member states. We will be seeking to ensure that the final instrument takes proper account of our ground-breaking efforts in this area.
The Commission will be providing an update on the review of the EU's thematic strategy on air pollution. The review explores options for further mitigating impacts of air pollution on health and the environment based on the most up-to-date science, which indicated that air pollution can still cause harm at very low levels, even below current EU standards. Ireland welcomes new measures being taken at EU level to protect and improve air quality which will provide increased protection for human health. Moreover, there is a growing consensus that air pollution policies can better link with climate change mitigation given that key air pollutants such as black carbon and ozone are significant components of atmospheric warming. During our Presidency, we facilitated an important discussion among Ministers and also with key policy makers and stakeholders and I am pleased to see that these considerations have fed into the proposed strategic reforms and initiatives. Finally, Greece will present its programme for its Presidency commencing on 1 January 2014.
This is a run-through of the main items tabled for next week's Council agenda. I am happy to deal with any questions which the Chairman or members may have.
I thank the Minister for his opening statement. On behalf of the committee, I acknowledge the success of the Irish Presidency and congratulate the Minister and his officials on the progress and achievements that have been made. I will now take questions and remarks from the members.
It is valuable that we have reduced the number of areas where we might be subject to fines from 19 to ten. Could the Minister outline what progress has been made in respect of the ten areas to which he referred, whether we will still be subject to fines and what these fines are? There is work to be done in respect of the use of forestry and bog land as carbon sinks. Will that be done in advance of Paris in 2015? Clearly, that will have an impact on what our obligations will be. We underperformed in terms of some of that capacity being counted. How will that happen practically?
In respect of our sectoral plans, the Minister stated that this is where the national ambition will stated. Presumably, each of the Departments such as the Departments of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Transport, Tourism and Sport are working on those. Is that what we will bring to the table in terms of how we are going to do things or will we be addressing anything in respect of targets?
Obviously, the typhoon in the Philippines focused minds. There is nothing like a good hanging to get people's attention. The Minister said in one of the documents that the pace picked up. What is meant by that in a practical sense? I welcome the fact that the Minister has acknowledged some of the efforts relating to the work we did on the pre-legislative stage regarding the heads of the Bill. I thought it was a very useful exercise. We are certainly more informed. The Minister is acknowledging that some aspects are likely to find their way into the Bill. It is really important that this happens if this way of dealing with legislation is going to be a feature in the future because there was quite an investment in terms of the time made by the committee and the research undertaken by those who came to talk to us.
We were talking about how the reduction in emissions might be achieved in the aviation sector. Is there a rounded discussion of that? Emissions will be one side of it but as an island, we are very exposed in respect of the means of transport. If one is on the European mainland, it is noticeable how heavily used the railway system is. That option is not available to us. If there will be a reduction in carriers, we need to look at more than emissions. Is there a rounded discussion on it that takes place in the context of reducing emissions by carriers by reducing the number of carriers and the difficulties that might present in respect of the availability of cost-efficient means of travel?
We have reduced infringements from 19 to ten. This includes issues like environmental impact assessments of farms and septic tanks. We were fined up to €5 million in respect of those two issues and paid those fines. Those cases are now closed so there will be no further activity on those files. We are working through others which are at various levels of development with the Commission. Some are at a reasoned opinion stage. We hope that we do not have to go to court and are very active on all the files to ensure this does not happen. Some of them affect our Department while others affect the Departments of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. We are co-ordinating our responses to the Commission across the three Departments at all times to make sure none of those cases is elevated to the stage where we end up in the courts and are subject to fines.
In respect of the climate change discussions, all roads lead to Paris in 2015. Inevitably, there was an element of "let's wait for the next day" in Warsaw in respect of making more substantial progress than was made in Warsaw. Nevertheless, the process was agreed in Warsaw where people will make commitments in respect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We have agreed how they are going to make those commitments, how they can be open and transparent in the way they are made and that they can be evaluated and analysed by member states in advance of Paris. Warsaw was seen as a staging post along the way to Paris. I am sure the next round in Lima in Peru will be the same. Gradually and slowly, progress is being made towards getting larger countries involved in the process. The European Union only deals with 14% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Countries like China, the US, India and Brazil need to be brought to the table more assertively and they are slowly being brought to the table, particularly the US.
The sectoral road maps and national road maps will feed into each other.
We are particularly interested in agriculture, transport, energy and building regulations. I have had very good meetings with the Ministers for Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Transport, Tourism and Sport, and Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in recent times. We have set up a process to get technical back up from the ESRI and UCC in order to ensure whatever comes through is robust and will help the strategic analysis of the draft national roadmaps. Work in this regard is progressing and I expect that a number of initiatives will be implemented in the coming months. Once we complete the sectoral roadmaps we will have them evaluated with the help of our technical experts. We will be able to revise our climate Bill in line with the recommendations of this committee. I have already signalled the changes I am prepared to introduce in this regard. I intend to proceed with the establishment of the expert group on an interim basis because we need to make the expertise of certain individuals available to my Department and this committee for the purpose of completing our deliberations.
I emphasise that the challenges are significant. The 2020 targets at EU level, to which Ireland subscribes by law, are ambitious and will create challenges for various sectors. We will have to meet the targets, however, or we will again be brought before the European Court of Justice and subjected to fines.
The emissions trading scheme for the aviation sector is difficult not just for the industry but also from the point of view of consumers. There is no point in the European Union standing alone with a solution to the aviation issue that does not involve the big players in the sector globally. The International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, assembly has made progress in this regard. I hope a global agreement will be reached with the help of the European Commission, which is at the progressive end of the ambitions for these matters. Most of the European proposals can be seen as reasonable and should be adopted by some of the major countries. Major difficulties have arisen during 2013 on reaching agreement on aviation and reducing emissions. Technology has to come into play and consumers do not want to pay any more than they have to for their flights. The agreement must be on a global basis rather than among individual EU member states if we are not to be at a competitive disadvantage.
It is interesting to hear what the Minister and his officials are planning for the Council meeting. In regard to the plastic bag levy, I welcome that the Minister will fight our corner given the amount of work we have done in this regard. If we were put on the same level as other countries which have not achieved as much as us and asked to achieve a blanket 50% reduction, it would be unfair on us. However, we must not be complacent because people easily revert to their old habits.
I ask the Minister to clarify the Lithuanian Presidency's plans for renewable resources in regard to land use and the impact its focus on biofuels will have on carbon emissions. I welcome his comments on the work we have done over the summer on the heads of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2013. I hope he will take on board much of what we have proposed. We had a constructive engagement on the Bill and there is strong interest in its provisions.
Will the Council be examining the various public awareness campaigns being conducted in other countries on climate change and its potential impact on societies? I have been following the discussions on infrastructure development but I fear this topic is being lost. I am concerned that the eye is off the ball in terms of public discourse. How successful have we been in spreading the message about the challenges we face in maintaining energy security and meeting our responsibilities that are suffering because of climate change?
On the plastic bags issue, we are conscious that the ambition with which this country led the way must not be thwarted by some of the unintended consequences of what might be proposed. Several years ago we were all discussing the huge opportunities for Ireland in biofuel production. The discussion appears to have gone quiet in recent times because of issues relating to profitability. An unintended consequence of that debate was the impact of biofuels on land and emissions. These issues have come into play as part of our discussions on the indirect changes to land use arising from biofuels. We want the scientific evidence underlying what is being proposed to be set out in an open and transparent way so that we can determine the impact of these measures on biofuel production. We have to meet renewable energy targets as part of the renewable energy directive but we want the associated risk to be teased out.
I agree with the Deputy in regard to public awareness of climate change. I hope the sectoral roadmaps that will be published by the various Departments in the spring set out the practical measures required to deal with these issues, as well as spelling out the implications of not taking action. Deputy Catherine Murphy referred to the Philippines. Our television screens bring home to us the potential for trouble but people move on quite quickly and forget about the disasters. Even in a smaller way, there could be major impacts on our own citizens and coastal areas. I will be investigating ways of selling the message based on the sectoral roadmaps from the Departments and the practical measures we need to highlight.
The Minister's reference to infringements reminded me of our lengthy discussions on septic tanks. Has that issue been resolved and has it been costly to the State?
As someone who lives near Dublin Port, I have always been interested in maritime transport. Dirty fuels, or bunker fuels as they are known in the trade, have been banned in certain ports. Have any discussions been entered into in that regard?
I welcome the Minister's remarks on the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2013. The expert advisory group will be very important in terms of giving confidence to citizens that they are getting proper and independent advice. However, the matter needs to be progressed quickly. I ask the Minister to outline his next steps. He only recently received the report but I am curious to learn his thoughts on it.
On packaging waste, we in Ireland have concentrated on plastic bags. However, I am also concerned about over packaging. We speak about reducing, reusing and recycling but we have not done enough on reducing packaging. I always take note of the level of over packaging of products in supermarkets. This consumes resources and it is more about advertising products than the packaging itself.
Has the Minister given any thought to that?
Air quality in Ireland has improved, especially in urban areas. Mary Harney did well when she was a junior Minister in the Department to ban smoky fuels, which had been creating a major problem in Dublin. However, a recent report was published on air quality in small and medium-sized towns in rural Ireland. The ban on smoky coal has been extended but because such coal is freely sold in Northern Ireland, smuggling still presents a problem. Can this be considered from a European perspective or be discussed with Westminster and the Northern Ireland Executive to address smoky coal on a 32-county basis? If we continue down the road of the ban, smuggling will increase.
Bonfires to burn waste, etc., which are illegal, remain an issue for air quality especially in rural areas. Has the Minister had discussions with local authorities about implementing by-laws in this regard? More dioxins are produced by a bonfire.
We paid €2.7 million in fines to the EU arising because of our inactivity in registering septic tanks. That would have been unnecessary if action had been taken earlier. That was a lower figure than was being highlighted to us by the Commission earlier in the process. Within weeks of becoming Minister, I dealt with that issue but it was a little late in the day from the point of view of heading off some of the fines. The nonsense uttered at public meetings about ground-water quality associated with septic tanks can be now be seen for what it is. People in rural Ireland know and understand the necessity for good ground-water. It is in the interest of public health and jobs, particularly in the food industry. If people want to campaign against ground-water quality, they are seeking to close rural Ireland in the future in the context of economic activity. It was a disgraceful campaign and I am delighted that we were able to secure decisions in the Oireachtas and in the European Parliament to show we are serious about ground-water quality and it was flattering to hear some people making representations to Government and Opposition Members about the modest proposals we put through the Houses for a risk-based approach. People were then seeking inspections to be carried out by local authorities in order that they could access the financial assistance I announced. However, this is the sort of nonsense that gives us all a bad name.
I will establish the expert committee on climate change in the next few weeks and I will do that on ad hoc basis pending the enactment of the legislation. I have indicated I will take a number of the committee's recommendations on board in the revised legislation and, hopefully, it will be published by Easter next year. I hope to go to the Government before the end of the year on a new climate policy to reflect some of the issues we discussed here regarding the sectoral map. A great deal of political activity is likely to happen on the climate change agenda in 2014.
Absolutely. I have no problem with that. I take expert views from all sources. The fact that I have taken on board reasonable suggestions shows how valuable the work of the committee is. The Deputy stated that she wanted the committee set up on the same basis as the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council and I have no difficulty with that.
The committee will not find me wanting on that issue.
Many producer responsibility, PRI, reviews are ongoing across many waste streams. We conducted one recently on packaging and I refer members to this on our website. They can examine it and make recommendations in the context of implementation. However, I am not proceeding with a packaging levy. There are ways to deal with this issue without imposing additional costs on retailers and so on.
Air quality is a hugely important issue, which I prioritised during the EU Presidency. The first item on the agenda during the informal Presidency meeting in Dublin was how to make progress on this. The European Commission has published a thematic paper on air quality. Side by side with that, I engaged with my Northern Ireland counterpart and an all-island study is being carried out currently. The work of the consultants on behalf of both jurisdictions is under way and they will report to us by the end of May next year. Their recommendations will feed into the further actions we need to take on air quality. It is important this is done on an all-island basis for the reasons Deputy Humphreys outlined, especially smuggling. Smoky coal is the big issue and I have indicated it will be banned by 2016. All the distributors and manufacturers know we have set this target date and they can devise alternatives to supply fuel to householders. We had a positive announcement arising from that in Foynes, County Limerick. The creation of 100 jobs was announced by CPL, which manufactures alternative fuel products to the ones we have become used to, which are damaging to air quality. There is a great deal of activity in this State and in Northern Ireland in this regard.
We have good engagement with local authorities through the waste enforcement network with the EPA regarding bonfires and so on. We have continued to emphasise the importance of that for rural areas at our regular meetings.
There is one other issue from the discussion so far. We have some producer-responsibility initiatives and I announced the public consultation process for two of them in recent times. One was for tyres. In a rural constituency, like the Vice Chairman's and mine, they are not all in silage pits. If we could find the 50% of them that go missing it would be a big help to the environment. There is also an initiative for end-of-life vehicles. We are not introducing new green taxes. Levies are already being imposed on the customer for tyres and end-of-life vehicles to assist in the necessary resources for disposal. I wanted to correct an erroneous headline that appeared in a newspaper recently suggesting that we were introducing new environmental taxes to deal with these waste streams; we are not.
I thank the Minister for that. In my constituency there is a very a business that has a way of converting waste tyres into oil. It is seeking some assistance from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. I am glad the Minister has expressed a willingness at least to engage with it from that point of view.
The Minister mentioned my constituency, which is Tipperary. Earlier he spoke about alien invasive species. We have an example on Lough Derg where the zebra mussel came in. While the various European directives and proposals are laudable in one sense, action on the ground to deal with them seems to be very scarce. There does not seem to be any concrete proposal to address it and it has gone on and on. The only proposal that is coming forward is seemingly to take them up to Dublin in the water. Perhaps the people in Dublin might not like the water if they were aware of this invasive species that inhabits Lough Derg.
How does the Minister propose to deal with overlapping between Departments? An example is the ash dieback disease. One would expect it to be dealt with by the forestry section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. However, it is airborne and has and we can talk about air quality and the impact that has particularly on rural industries like forestry. Are there proposals to deal with that?
I will ask my colleague from the heritage section to deal with some issues in private session shortly.
Whenever there is a big issue such as the ash disease interdepartmental co-operation should happen at all times - I hope it does happen. I accept that issues relating to air quality bring about the spread of this particular disease. We will certainly be glad to take up the Vice Chairman's concern about the necessity to keep in touch with the forestry section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine in an interdepartmental way to assist in coming to some conclusions or recommendations to ensure that this disease does not spread unnecessarily because of inaction by agencies or Departments.