Bill calls for Environment Protection Agency's legal 'immunity' to be dropped

Bill calls for Environment Protection Agency's legal 'immunity' to be dropped

A legal "immunity" blocking the Environment Protection Agency from being sued when the group's actions inadvertently damage the countryside should be immediately removed to ensure full transparency in the sector.

Environment Minister Denis Naughten has come under pressure to agree to the move after a number of recent incidents in Limerick and other areas in recent years.

As part of a bill due to be tabled by Fianna Fáil in the coming days, the opposition party has called for the "absolute right to immunity" given to the EPA in relation to environmental legal cases to be removed.

The plan is contained in the Environment Protection Agency (Amendment) Bill, and is seeking to delete section 15 of the Environmental Protection Act 1992 and the Waste Management Act 1996.

Speaking to reporters at Leinster House, Fianna Fáil social protection spokesperson Willie O'Dea and party senator Lorraine Clifford Lee said currently the EPA cannot be sued or sanctioned for "negligence from any damage from their actions".

Saying the existing situation is "inappropriate", Mr O'Dea said other EU members such as Spain and Germany have already removed full immunity for their corresponding environmental groups and that Ireland should now follow suit.

It is understood Mr O'Dea's concerns relate to issues surrounding the Irish Cement Limited base in Mungret, Co Limerick, which in July was forced to apologise due to a "dust leak" in the area.

Other issues have also occurred at sites given the green light by the EPA and An Bord Pleanala in Cork and other counties, although no legal changes have been made to date.


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