Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Water Pollution

Photo of Gerald NashGerald Nash (Louth, Labour)
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204. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will provide details of actions Ireland is taking on foot of the State being referred to the European Court of Justice on the 26 January 2023 to the European Commission over its failure to address the problem of polluted natural waters; if he will indicate the steps he and agencies under his aegis are taking to address issues in relation to the pollution of water courses in this jurisdiction, potentially caused by defective slurry tanks north of the border; if he has engaged with the Northern Ireland authorities on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12073/23]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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On 26 January 2023 my Department was notified of the decision of the European Commission to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to correctly transpose the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC). This decision was linked to the Commission Infringement case 2007/2238 against Ireland.

The Water Environment (Abstractions and Associated Impoundments) Act 2022 formed a large part of the response to the remaining issues in the Commission Infringement. The Act was signed into law by the President in December 2022, and provides for a registration and licensing regime for the control and prior authorisation of abstractions and their associated impoundments. My Department is currently developing regulations to commence and operationalise this Act.

In addition I have signed four sets of regulations addressing aspects of the infringement case, namely: the European Union (Water Policy) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022, the European Union (Drinking Water) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022, the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Groundwater) (Amendment) Regulations 2022, and the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Waters) (Amendment) Regulations.

The Government is taking strong action on water quality including a record investment in Irish Water capital programmes, a new CAP Strategic Plan with measures to protect and improve water quality in agricultural areas, and a new stronger Nitrates Action Programme.

The Government will shortly launch a new and strengthened River Basin Management Plan. This plan will build on the work of the second-cycle, and will again describe the main pressures and activities affecting water status, set out the environmental objectives to be achieved up to 2027 and identify the measures needed to achieve these objectives.

My Department is working with colleagues in Northern Ireland on the production of a single “Shared Waters” plan to cover our International River Basin Districts, which will outline how we will coordinate protecting and enhancing the water bodies that are part of both jurisdictions. It will also include the ecological status for shared surface water bodies and overall status for shared groundwater bodies. The work to be undertaken to ensure the water bodies meet their environmental objectives to be achieved up to 2027 and identify the measures needed to achieve these objectives in our shared waterbodies will be further outlined in the River Basin Management Plans for Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The Local Authorities Water Programme Office (LAWPRO) has ongoing linkages with agencies in Northern Ireland as part of its role coordinating water quality activities.


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