17th February, 2011. Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership: Ireland to be fined €26 million and daily fines of €33,000
The Environmental Pillar calls on the Government: to take seriously its role as protector of the natural resources that are fundamental to all life, including human; to fully implement the Water Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive, the Birds Directive, and the EIA Directive; and in so doing to avoid the Irish taxpayer having to face huge fines.
Because the Irish Government never put in place the necessary procedures regarding assessing the environmental impact of projects, we as tax payers are now collectively facing a fine of €26 million followed by daily fines of €33,000 until our Government learns to obey the rules which it helped to write. Should the European Court of Justice go ahead and fine Ireland it will be because our Government showed contempt to the Court by not complying with a ruling of the same Court made in 2008 regarding the poor implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. The 2008 ruling found that the Irish thresholds for conducting an impact assessment for certain types of projects were too high. This has led to the loss of valuable wetlands and the destruction of archaeological remains, according to the Commission.
Speaking on behalf of the Environmental Pillar, Joanne Pender of the Irish Wildlife Trust noted that
“This is not the only case against Ireland that is likely to result in serious fines. Ireland is in the dock for almost 25% of all the environmental cases at the “contempt of court stage” in the European Court of Justice. Ireland also ranks at the bottom of many league tables that assess our environmental performance, especially for nature protection. This is a terrible indictment of the Government’s record in protecting the environment, and a warning to the next Government to implement the European Directives that it signed up to.”
Whatever the complexion of the new Government it will need to dramatically improve on the past record of the State in transposing European Directives as the Commission starts to use its new powers to seek fines against recalcitrant Member States such as Ireland