Air Pollution Bill, 1986 [Seanad]: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That section 39, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I would like to clear up a matter raised on the last occasion by Deputy Doyle in relation to section 39. I have taken further advice in the matter. Deputy Doyle raised the argument about the words "the Minister may if he considers it necessary". The advice I have taken about the Deputy's concern is that it now appears, as stated by her, that there might be some inconsistency in the expression "the Minister may if he considers it necessary". This expression is used in section 39 (4) of the Bill. My advice is that this expression directly repeats the wording of a similar provision in section 40 of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1976. Section 40 of that Act deals specifically with special amenity area orders. There is a relationship between that legislation and the legislation we are now considering.

The clause "if he considers it necessary" should be understood in the first instance as a limitation on the Minister's general power of directing an order to be made. The Minister cannot direct such an order arbitrarily or even because he would like to establish the idyllic state of environmental protection. He can only give a direction if he is satisfied that it is necessary to prevent or to limit air pollution.

While control of air pollution is the object of this Bill, it may not be the overriding consideration on every possible occasion, for example, the country might face a fuel emergency or some kind of financial scarcity which might make it impracticable to contemplate a special control order in a particular place at a particular time. In such cases it might be necessary from the point of view of air pollution control that an order should be made but the Minister might wish to use his discretion to hold off an order until other non-environmental circumstances were more favourable. This is the reason why this sentence is worded as it is.

I thank the Minister for the considerable explanation he has given me. The Minister quoted a precedent in the Planning Acts. However, those Acts are some years old at this stage and all of us from different points of view find some deficiencies to a greater or lesser extent in the Acts as is easy with the wisdom of hindsight. I do not think purely from the precedent point of view that it is necessary to compound deficiencies, if we consider this sentence to be deficient in any way, by saying that we must use it because it has been used in similar legislation before.

I take the Minister's second point that there may be matters, other than matters which purely relate to environmental pollution, which may help make the Minister's mind up, all things being equal. However, it appears now that the word "necessary" is incorrect if that aspect of the Minister's argument stands up. I accept that fully but perhaps the word "opportune" to do so or a word of similar meaning could be inserted instead of the word "necessary". The word "necessary" is a fairly conclusive word — if something is "necessary" to be done, it should be done and not "may' be done. This Bill deals with air pollution. We are asking, in the event of a local authority, for whatever reason, not implementing a special control area order, if all of the points under section 39 (2) stand up, that the Minister "may", if he considers it necessary, introduce this special control area order. My argument on the last occasion we discussed this Bill was that if it was necessary to do so the wording should be that the Minister "shall" introduce this order. However, if we want to leave in the word "may"— and I accept that there is provision right through this Bill and other Bills for allowing discretion by the Minister and that is as it should be — surely necessity would not allow discretion. Perhaps it might be inopportune for reasons other than those strictly related to air pollution for the Minister not to proceed. I accept that a national emergency, a fuel scarcity or some other major problem might prevail conceivably, however unlikely.

This is not a point I want to labour much longer. We discussed it at some length on the last occasion but I am unhappy about this because I feel there could be several outs there. I want to nail down the occasions on which the Minister might consider not implementing an order when section 39 (2) (a), (b), (c) and (d) stand up. Those occasions should be minimal and should be national emergency-type occasions. I accept conceivably that occasions like this could arise. If it was necessary to bring in a special control area order there should be no discretion — if the local authority do not do it, the Minister "should" and not "may" do it. Perhaps the word "necessary" is what is causing the big difficulty. Perhaps the Minister will agree to the word the Minister may if he considers it "opportune" to do so or any other similar word he might like to suggest. If the Minister agrees to this then I have no difficulty.

We are off the amendments. This is on the section. It is not appropriate to be talking about amendments at this stage.

The amendment was under the previous section.

That was disposed of on the last occasion.

We are on section 39. We have already disposed of the amendments.

We have always got Report Stage if we want to be contrary.

The Deputy will not have to be contrary because I can see much justification in what she says. While there might have been many things in the Planning Act that we would like to see amended now, that does not necessarily mean that the language used in the Planning Act needs to be amended as well.

To satisfy the Deputy I considered the points she made on the last occasion. To settle the matter would it suit the Deputy if we substituted the word "expedient" for the word "necessary".

That being the case, it will be a pleasure to introduce the amendment to satisfy the matter.

I thank the Minister for that.

On section 39 it is foreseen that a local authority may make an order with the consent of another local authority outside of what they call their own functional area to influence a reduction in pollution or the control or management of proper air in that area. What concerns me is how a local authority in one area can have influence in another. The most important example that comes to mind is what I would regard as the major source of air pollution in recent years, that is Moneypoint and its expansion.

The Minister referred to the fact that this Bill did not concern itself with the area of urbanised pollution. He said he did not wish us in this debate to confine ourselves to that question. In relation to Moneypoint cumulative long term pollution at the rate of something like 70,000 tons per annum of suplhur dioxide is being spewed out into the regions close to the Burren. I would be very concerned that a local authority would not have any effect in relation to the control of the local authority in the region of Moneypoint because of the huge vested interests that would be built up surrounding the production of energy from that source and that, consequently, massive amounts of coal would be burned with the resultant pollution of the Burren region. Just a change of wind could cause irreparable damage to a very delicate ecological region that has literally nurtured and grown itself over centuries, a region that has been studied by botanists throughout Europe.

I cannot stress enough the importance of the Burren. It is one of our prime tourist attractions. It is also one of the most important botanical ecological regions in all of Europe. There is only one other area that compares with the Burren and that is in Yugoslavia. Delicate plants and flowers similar to those found in remote areas of high mountainous regions in Switzerland are growing in the Burren. The Burren has a very delicate climate and is combined of sheltered rock and peat and soil that has laid itself down there, all depending on a delicate air balance. Will the Minister give an assurance that his Department will watch this area very closely and not just depend on a local authority to make some complaint to the local authority surrounding Moneypoint? The Department of the Environment should take a direct interest in this region and the Minister's control should supersede the control of air which is being provided for in this Bill. I regret to say that this is inept legislation which will prove to be inoperable. The Burren is a region which must be protected and we must forcibly take every measure to protect it.

We are breaking EC law, if one wants it strictly enforced. I know derogation is not specifically geared for Ireland, but we are, if not breaking the law, sailing very close to it and we are breaking the spirit of the law in that new power stations after a certain date should have been fitted with sulphur recovery scrubbers to recover sulphur dioxide. This has not been done at Moneypoint. Thankfully we are still well involved with the European Community and after the recent referendum, we will not be considered personna non grata.

I appeal to the Minister to investigate in the EC the cost of subsidy to provide scrubbers for Moneypoint. The prices quoted by the ESB were not the lowest prices for which scrubbers could be fitted. Now I see that the ESB are making independent inquiries. It is a little late for that but we cannot just expect a local authority to take on this problem. It would be a bit like a mouse trying to shout at a lion which was roaring at it. This is a huge pollutant which is sending sulphur dioxide right across the country and up as far as Scandinavia, affecting areas of northern Europe. We are giving a very bad example in that respect. It is all very fine to say that it is not a great amount of pollution in the context of what is happening in Germany, but that is not comparing like with like. The fact that our air is pollution free is all the more reason for taking measures to safeguard it. The Minister should take cognisance of the two points I make. I would like to see a special amenity order for the Burren so that it is specially monitored. This would be apart from the two or three monitoring devices that are there at present. Major concern should be addressed to the Burren region, because if the damage is done, as it could be done within a few years, it will be impossible to grow again anything like what is in that botanical region.

We can all sympathise with and support the thrust of what Deputy Brady said about protecting the environment, with particular reference to the Burren in County Clare. In connection with Moneypoint, Deputy Brady and a few others criticised what they saw as the derogation which the ESB were seeking from the draft EC directive on large combustion plant. It would be just as well to offer some points of clarification on that, and I am in a position to do so because we have had some discussions in the recent past about this. Last week I spent some time in Brussels dealing with this directive on large combustion plants and Moneypoint was uppermost in my mind during that time. The matter has not yet been finalised. The draft directive only proposes clean technology or scrubbers for new plant authorised after 1987. Moneypoint would not be new plant for the purposes of the directive and there would be no directive obligations on it to fit scrubbers. The whole idea about scrubbers is that it would limit the emissions of SO 2 from large combustion plant but this does not arise in so far as negotiations on the directive on large combusition plant are concerned.

The second part of the EC proposal would require total power plant emissions from member states to be kept within various limits which would be different for each member state. One possible way for Ireland to keep within the national limit would be to fit scrubbers on Moneypoint. It is not necessary in the light of the directive now so seek to have those scrubbers applied at this time because our limits will be away below the average limits that would apply eventually to mainland Europe and to other European States.

That is in no way to minimise the risks that large combustion plants can have for our environment. With that in mind a considerable monitoring system has been installed for the area close to Moneypoint, and the ESB, Clare County Council and An Foras Forbartha are working very closely together to see to it that the Burren is protected, first by having a baseline study done and then on an ongoing basis monitoring the situation so as not to allow Moneypoint in any way to act to the detriment of the environment and in particular the Burren.

I would like to bring to the Deputy's notice that already some monitoring stations are installed. There is a large one in the Slieve Bloom mountains and it is proposed to have two further large monitoring stations, one at Turlough Hill and one in Kilkenny. Apart from that there are a number of other small monitoring stations in a circle right around the Moneypoint plant, nearly a dozen in total. They give a readout of the exact level of emission from Moneypoint. However, I take Deputy Brady's view seriously because the prevailing wind in that part of the country is from the south-west and it will be necessary to have that monitoring carried out on any acid precipitation occurring along the Shannonside-Dublin corridor. It has been discovered here and abroad that, particularly where there are high rising stacks on large combustion plants with a prevailing wind of several knots, emissions do not normally land close to the plant. They are carried on winds, as Deputy Brady said rightly, often as far away as mainland Europe. That is the cause of much of the trans-boundary pollution we have been talking about in consultations with our EC partners.

All these things are being very carefully assessed. I do not wish to minimise the inherent dangers that could exist if the levels of SO 2 were to increase beyond their present limits. All of that is being considered in the light of the new EC Directive and Deputies can rest assured that I am more than anxious to have a close watch kept on that unique piece of countryside known as the Burren which has an international importance, is unique in many ways and certainly will be protected.

Once this legislation is passed one of the first pieces of retrospective implementation of the Bill could be the operation of Moneypoint, bearing in mind the total issues involved when we speak of Moneypoint and the input of the Department of Energy. I take it that No. 2 in the Third Schedule would include stations such as Moneypoint. I concur with the fears expressed by Deputy Brady. Will the Minister confirm to us that retrospection will and can work effectively in relation to this legislation, and will he look at Moneypoint and the whole scrubber issue with that in mind?

That is worth considering and I will do so. Many people imagine that Moneypoint, being a very large emitter of SO 2, must continue to be that way. In the past it has not always been possible to have available low sulphur fuels for burning, but as things are at the moment with low sulphur coals and particularly natural gas we have the matter under control. What the Deputy says is quite right and I will consider it very carefully.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 40.
Question proposed: "That section 40 stand part of the Bill."

This section deals with the regulations authorising the use of certain classes of fireplaces in a particular area. Only last week or the week before that, many of us were invited to a demonstration of a type of smoke recovery fireplace which appeared, as it was spoken of, to be the panacea to all our problems here in regard to smoke recovery. It was claimed that this unit would recover up to 80 per cent of smoke. If this is so we must compliment those engaged in active research and in endeavouring to combat the problem of air pollution and the high concentration of smoke particularly in urban areas. On closer examination and questioning it became apparent that fireplaces of that kind could cost between £500 and £1,000 to install. Some are being fitted through local authorities in Dublin city and in County Dublin, six in each case, on an experimental basis.

Some areas of Dublin, such as Ballymun and Finglas, which have been identified as large, densely populated areas, would benefit greatly from fireplaces of that kind. Under this section which permits the Minister to make regulations authorising the use of a certain class of fireplace it would be impossible for private individuals in many cases to install fireplaces of this kind. The cost for conversion to this type of fireplace throughout the city would be of the order of £30 million. Again I am looking towards the EC. Will the Minister in his reply indicate whether some funding could be available by way of subsidy to assist people who want to install fireplaces of this kind? Let me be clear and say that I am not looking for any grant-in-aid from the Government to do this because our finances could bear no strain of that kind whatsoever, but will the EC look to Dublin city as a region where the air quality is particularly bad and offer some type of subsidy, maybe on a pilot basis in some region, for the installation of these fireplaces?

This section permits the Minister to regulate the type of fuels to be used in special control areas. One problem here is the high cost of smokeless fuel. "Coalite", to give one trade name, costs something like £90 for half a tonne as against coal which is of the order of £60 per half a tonne. That is a considerable price difference. Here again, using modern technology of smoke recovery fireplaces combined with smokeless fuels, will the Minister indicate whether the cost of smokeless fuel could be assisted in some way through the EC rather than making a subsidy through our Exchequer? That would go a very long way towards solving this problem. We all realise that fireplaces have a social usage and are a comfort in many homes. The fireplace is and has been traditional for centuries in Irish life. Its usage will not die out overnight by way of a sudden conversion to some awful artificial burners. If we can make inroads in the development of those two areas it would constitute a modern or two-pronged approach to the problem. In that way funding could be sought through the EC for the installation of fireplaces and also in respect of smokeless fuels.

There is the possibility of reactivating the anthracite mine in Tipperary. My information is that this is a particularly difficult mine from which to extract anthracite because its passageways are narrow, somewhat dangerous and so on. We might examine the possibility of mining more indigenous fuel in order to combat the problem. Much can be done without banning the use of fireplaces, coal and so on. Under no circumstances must we pander to commercial pressures who would contend that there is no air pollution problem in Dublin, that people are exaggerating. I find that argument an insult to people's intelligence. One only has to go out into the open air at night time to nearly choke from it. Medical evidence speaks for itself about our deteriorating air quality.

I might mention for the information of the House something which may demonstrate the problem about which I speak. From my experience or contacts with patients with eye problems it is apparent that there has been an enormous increase in recent years in the incidence of non-specific conjunctivitis, commonly known as the red eye syndrome, when people's eyes become irritable, in the main because of infection but also because of the environment to which they are subjected by way of bad quality air or water. That is something that has been chronicled in many hospitals, that this complaint is on the increase and is due primarily to this pollution problem. It is also apparent in the case of people who wear contact lenses and who find them intolerable in the bad quality air of Dublin. Of course the Minister has the glorious advantage of living in the clear air west of the Shannon. I see him nodding his head in contented agreement. Yet, with his busy round of duties in Dublin he, too, is subjected to the Dublin air for a good portion of the week. I am sure he would agree that the further west he drives the more the air becomes clearer and more tolerable.

That is right.

That is the type of air we want to achieve in Dublin. The Minister might take note of my suggestions, particularly that of developing the anthracite mines in Tipperary. He might also make aggressive efforts to have the provisions of this Bill — particularly those of section 40 — implemented in an effective way.

I was nodding my agreement to the Deputy's remarks about the further west one travels the cleaner the air becomes. I was doing it for the benefit of some young friends who happen to be with us in the Dáil today. In a more lighthearted way perhaps I might encourage Deputy Brady and his constituents from the smoke-filled atmosphere of the large conurbations of Dublin to take themselves west for their annual holidays where the air is clear and unpolluted.

There has always been the tradition of the open fireplace in Ireland that is not confined to Dublin city. It is a practice firmly established throughout the country which will not be changed as a result of any legislation we pass here. The overview in so far as legislation is concerned is that we should endeavour to be flexible in all these things. We are not passing legislation to make life intolerable or impossible for people but rather because we recognise there is a problem of pollution, mostly smoke pollution in Dublin city and perhaps in a few other built-up areas. It is that pollution the provisions of this Bill are endeavouring to adress. In addition to being flexible in our attitude towards these special control area orders we must encourage people to seek ways and means of living better so as to create a better quality of air generally in their areas or surrounding their places of residence.

The word "fireplace" has arisen here. It is purely a technical term which includes closed burning appliances as well as open fireplaces. There are many new developments in so far as appliances are concerned. For example, there are new designed smoke-eating backboilers using ordinary coal. They are somewhat expensive at present but, as time goes on, they should become more readily available at a cheaper rate. It must also be understood that there are many special types of appliances coming on the market at present, all being promoted as better users of fuel in so far as economy and smoke emissions are concerned. There are other options which will have to be considered in conjunction with whatever decisions are taken by local authorities or by me as Minister. I might refer in particular to new types of smokeless fuel to come on the market before too long. The price differential might not be as wide as is being suggested. I am not at liberty, as is Deputy Brady, to mention trade names or types but I understand from some little research I have done myself in this matter that before too long new types of fuel will come on the market, home-based indigenous products that will meet much of the requirements we seek to have imposed under the provisions of this Bill. I do not know whether we have experimented sufficiently with smokeless or less smokey fuels, such as certain types of gas and oil. All of these things will feature in the decisions that will have to be taken in respect of an area when it is being decided to have a special control area order made.

Different requirements may be prescribed for differing classes of premises, differing fuels and specific areas. That is important as well. It may be that, to achieve the desired result vis-á-vis the overall level of pollution in a given area, we would have to indicate different types of fuels, different types of appliances for different types of circumstances. That will make for an overall flexible approach.

I am not over-optimistic about the re-introduction of a special grant-aid system to deal with this matter in the immediate future. That might not be possible but it is dealt with under the provisions of section 45 which we shall be considering later. That provision has been inserted so that the option will be available and may yet have to be resorted to achieve the desired result. But, in these areas, every other option should be tried before applying State assistance to remedy a problem.

I should like to consider further the possibility of some EC support. I had not travelled very far down that road. It might be possible to seek such aid in so far as research and development is concerned vis-á-vis new appliances and/or new fuels. With that in mind I will consider Deputy Brady's suggestion. I recommend to those considering special control area orders that they be flexible in their approach and encourage people to use different kinds of appliances, better type fuels, which we hope would not be too much out of line with the price of our existing fuel, and new technology.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 41.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 28, subsection (6), line 15, to delete "and (d)" and substitute ", (d) and (e)".

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 41, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Perhaps the Minister would elaborate on the expression "as soon as may be after they..."? I am slightly concerned when I read a rather vague expression like that. I have no doubt I will be quoted a precedent for its use as I know this expression has appeared in legislation before. However I am not sure that this is a reason to compound deficiencies.

Section 41 (1) deals with the confirmation of the special control area order and confers powers on the local authority to give notice, including (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) as outlined. I have no problem with that. However, if a local authority refuses to implement a special control area order and the Minister makes an order implementing a special control area for the functional area of the local authority in question, what guarantee is there that the local authority will subsequently play ball and proceed according to section 41? I am presuming that what is included under section 41 is an executive function. If it was a reserved function of the members and if the members previously refused to implement one of these orders and the Minister had to do so what guarantees are there that the matter would proceed according to section 41? If the local authority refuse to proceed according to section 41 (1), what then? My reading of it does not allow the Minister to issue a notice and give the minimum of one month's display and so on.

Use of words as far as precedent is concerned may not always be the best way to achieve the objective of a particular section but it is a time tried means of doing so. While one might not always subscribe to the language used by draftsmen in particular sections of legislation it has proved its worth. This will stand up as well to the test of time as far as the words are concerned.

The function is an executive one. The Minister gives a particular order to the local authority and they have to comply with it within the terms of the legislation under which the order is made. They cannot move away from that because if they did they would be in default of their statutory duty. While local authorities are wont to do things they are not wont to break the law against a direction given by the Minister. It has not been the case in instances where ministerial orders have been given that authorities went against them because of the serious consequences attached thereto.

I accept what the Minister said. If it is strictly an executive function I do not question that the matter will be set out as in section 41 but I could foresee some problems if there was a reserved element in the function.

The words "as soon as may" are a little archaic and antediluvian. Perhaps there is a need to keep using this language which is in the annals of legislation. Perhaps it facilitates our over-taxed parliamentary draftsmen.

I sympathise with the Deputy's remarks as far as the language is concerned. However, there is an established code of practice now and it is easily understood by those who practise the law in another forum. Perhaps that is the reason that is has grown up here. Legislation is usually interpreted in another place.

In the courts.

The courts understand the type of language used in the drafting here. There might have been some problems if it was other than an executive function. When local authorities refuse to comply there is a way in legislation of forcing the issue.

Point taken.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 42 to 44, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 45.
Question proposed: "That section 45 stand part of the Bill."

I hope the grants will turn out to be a reality.

This section is the one which empowers the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance, as is always the case, to make a scheme for the granting of financial assistance for any works required to be carried out to a premises by a special control area order or by an alternative notice under section 44. In accordance with section 19 such a scheme would be financed from moneys provided by the Oireachtas to such an extent as may be agreed by the Minister for Finance.

It has been put in to allow the Minister to have available to him, if it should arise following consultation with the Minister for Finance, the necessary assistance by way of grant to alleviate the problems Deputy Brady referred to.

Would the occupier of a residence or premises be able to plead inability to pay as a reason for non-compliance with a special control area order, for example, if it was a case of altering their fireplace or their method of cooking?

In other legislation where something would be forced on individuals the court has discretion to ensure hardship is not caused. In the order that might be made a direction could be given that a certain street might not have to comply but another would. It might not be possible for certain areas to comply for the reasons I have stated. That is a good provision to have included.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 46.
Question proposed: "That section 46 stand part of the Bill."

Herein lies the nub of the whole problem in that the legislation is enabling rather than directive. It is important that it is identified that the legislation enables the local authority to work on their own initiative if they see fit. It is very frail from that point of view, as is much of the legislation concerning the improvement of the environment and so on. A lot of legislation passed in recent years suffered greatly in that it was enabling legislation rather than legislation which directed the local authority to carry out a particular task.

Subsection (1) states: "A local authority may, and shall if the Minister so directs" formulate a management plan for a particular area. Given the very vast number of demands on the Minister for the Environment, what input will he have in that regard? There is a very serious situation in regard to air pollution in our capital city and I request the Minister to direct Dublin Corporation to immediately put into effect a management plan for air control in Dublin. We should not wait for the local authority to come up with a plan if they see fit. There is a half-hearted approach to this whole question by local authorities. They acknowledge that a problem exists but they will say that the position here is not as bad as that in Europe and they will quote statistics to make that case. Any of us who has taken the bother of examining the air quality control figures, given on a monthly basis by the section which deals with this matter, realises that we are in breach of the EC regulations in many locations in Dublin city. In the spirit of this legislation the Minister has an ideal opportunity, and has the total support of this House, to demand that our largest local authority, in this case Dublin Corporation, would provide his Department with an air quality management plan. I would like to see the whole question of smokeless zones incorporated in such a management plan.

There are also other facets of air pollution and one in particular which causes immense problems in snarl-up traffic jams in Dublin is diesel fumes which emanate from buses and from cars that are badly tuned and are not serviced properly. They spew out noxious air, in this case carbon monoxide, and other gases into the atmosphere. I realise that the legislation we are talking about does not deal directly with air pollution from cars, buses or vehicles of that kind but nonetheless it combines to giving very bad quality air in the city, with a high density of sulphur dioxide particularly in the winter months. I plead with the Minister to consider an air quality management plan for Dublin. If, during the passage of this legislation, he gave a commitment of this kind it would not be of immense cost to the State. All the facts and figures are there, the research has been done and the evidence is available. It is just a question of putting this information together, which could be done very quickly, and then identifying what can be done about the problem.

Deputy Anne Colley, during the last session of this debate, made a very constructive proposal which would be of benefit to Dublin and to other areas of the country — to introduce a monitoring service for air pollution. Deputy Colley indicated that this could be coupled with the weather forecasting service. Information should be given every evening if necessary to warn people of the impending high concentration of sulphur dioxide in the air. This can be part of the measures taken into account in the drafting of a management plan. I would like to hear the Minister's comments on that. Given the fact that many of us are less than happy about the effectiveness of this toothless legislation. Nonetheless if the Minister uses the opportunity to direct Dublin Corporation in this matter we would be at least on our way to counteracting the problem for the coming winter.

I support Deputy Brady's comments on the Bill in regard to the lack of direction to local authorities and particularly in regard to air quality management plans. Whereas I understand it is an enabling Bill, it seems, as Deputy Brady pointed out, the Dublin city area is crying out for such a management plan. I also appeal to the Minister to direct not just Dublin Corporation but also Dublin County Council to consider such a plan in the very near future.

I also wish to mention the smoke alert or smog alert which I referred to in the last debate on this matter. While I understand there is a lack of financial resources at present to make any great inroads into the problems of air pollution, I appeal to the Minister to use the resources which cost very little, among which would be such a smoke alert. We should have the results from those monitoring stations available for us. I do not think many local authorities will do very much arising from the results of the monitoring of smoke or smog. However, one thing that could be done would be to use these results to raise the consciousness of people so that they would contribute to solving the problem of air pollution and also prevent it.

Medical problems are also associated with air pollution and these should be recognised. Smoke alerts would usefully serve that purpose. I do not wish such smoke or smog alerts to be sensational. They should be run on the basis as the pollen count which is given out at particular times during the summer. The monitoring of smoke or smog would presumably take place mostly in winter. I appeal to the Minister to consider first, directing the Dublin local authorities to have an air quality management plan and, secondly, to use the results obtained at these monitoring stations. I do not know if it comes under this section but in terms of air quality generally may I ask the Minister to consider liaising with the Minister for Health to allow the Health Education Bureau to engage in a programme of making people aware of air pollution and its dangers to health? Part of this could be done as a result of this Bill but it could also be done in conjunction with the Minister for Health.

First, I would like to deal with Deputy Brady's remarks about air quality management plans. We would like to have such plans and they would be regarded as an essential part of dealing with air pollution but they are not absolutely necessary so far as taking action is concerned. While it is not relevant to this debate, perhaps I might refer to our progress under the Water Pollution Act, 1977. There are 20 water quality management plans in preparation but only one has been adopted. Even under the waste disposal regulations of 1979 to 1982, only 11 such management plans are in place and more are in preparation.

The important thing is that the management plan as outlined in section 46 is not essential to get on with the job. All the major functions of this legislation can be carried out without a management plan being in place. All the urgent things which need to be done can be done. As far as giving directions are concerned, a point raised by Deputy Colley, that is catered for in section 47. It explicitly states that the Minister has power to direct in a variety of ways the making and the co-ordination of air quality management plans by local authorities and he can even go beyond that. He can direct a local authority, or two or more authorities jointly, to make such a plan.

That would be very apt for Dublin.

Yes, because of the overlapping of jurisdiction. I take note of the Deputy's remarks on liaising with the Minister for Health. That is a good idea and I will consider it very carefully.

Parts II, III and IV of this legislation are the principal parts and enable the job to be done as distinct from the management plan dealt with in this section. It is desirable to have an air quality management plan but it will not inhibit special control orders being made or action being taken to deal with a particular problem which may arise next winter. Section 24 sets out in specific terms the best practical means to limit or prevent air pollution and section 39 deals with the putting in place of special area control orders.

Part III allows for licensing of industrial premises. All these things can be put in place and made workable to deal with any problem which might arise in the immediate future rather than waiting until such time as the air quality management plan is ready. I take note of Deputies' concern about this matter, particularly Deputy Brady, and I want to put their minds at rest so far as the necessity for the management plans are concerned.

Deputy Colley, and I think Deputy Brady, referred to the proposal for the system of smog alerts. With the proper investment in new equipment that might be possible but I am not sure this system would be particularly useful or cost effective in Irish circumstances. As it is operated in certain continental countries, smog alerts generally related to pollution from sulphur dioxide rather than smoke. The essential difference at this time is that our big problem is smoke. Deputy Brady referred to the possibility of a problem arising at Moneypoint so far as sulphur dioxide is concerned. As I said, our immediate problem deals with the smoke element of pollution, and this must be handled immediately. As I see it, our problem has been, and will continue to be, with smoke rather than sulphur dioxide.

Smog alerts in continental Europe are nearly always directed to individual major sources of sulphur emissions. Closing down large emitters for a few days does settle the matter, or requiring them to use low sulphur fuels is a way of alleviating the sulphur levels fairly quickly, but smoke problems in Dublin arise from the hundreds of thousands of ordinary domestic fireplaces burning ordinary types of fuel. Generally speaking, the smog alerts referred to by Deputy Colley are not relevant now as far as Dublin is concerned, and hopefully never will be. As I said, our problem is smoke emissions from domestic fires but there are possibilities that smokeless fuels, new appliances and new technology will go a long way in the immediate future to deal with that matter and, hopefully, without recourse to the legislation we are talking about now.

There is equipment available that will measure the density of smog caused by suspended particles either of coal dust or dust from other materials which are burned. I am not speaking specifically of suplhur dioxide because there is equipment for that. In the Atmospheric Pollution Control Unit Aston Quay, there is information available about a special unit, a very sophisticated piece of equipment, costing £20,000. This would cover the entire city of Dublin. With this equipment it is possible to measure the suspended particles which cause smog due to the burning of bituminous coal. Sulphur dioxide is another poisonous element.

I take the Minister's point that the main problem in Dublin is smog but that can be monitored with modern equipment and with the setting up of a smog alert system. It would be most desirable if this were done because it would enable people, particularly in densely populated areas, to turn to alternative types of fuel —electric fires, bottled gas or some other fuel — at certain times when temperature inversions cause problems. The atmospheric control section of Dublin Corporation are anxious that such a system should be tried. I am not so sure about the local authority as a whole but the people I spoke to assured me that equipment was available and could be used. I seem to be again referring to the EC but funding is available for environment oriented projects and given that this is the year of the environment, we should use every possible opportunity through the EC to purchase the best equipment we possibly can.

I take Deputy Colley's point that a smog alert system should also be set up in Dublin county as it is impossible to divorce it from the city in terms of air pollution. It cannot be controlled but, for a start, the Minister should direct both authorities to instigate a smog alert system for the capital. If it is done in regard to other pollutants — counts can be done in relation to humidity and pollen — there is no reason for not introducing it for smog levels in the city. It would perhaps create consciousness among the public of what this is all about.

Environmental studies should be part of the school curriculum because the extension of the present pollution, most regrettably, is found in third level educational colleges. One merely has to go to Belfield to see the appalling pollution on the campus by third level students who should know better. It is a disgrace. The educational process should start at kindergarten level, to try to install in the minds of those who will be controlling the country in the future, a consciousness of the need for preserving our environment. We must do this by showing our will rather than by just passing legislation. Legislation which has been passed in regard to environmental issues has not been enforced and I have grave doubts as to whether this legislation will be enforced either. I have said that a few times but I repeat it with a purpose, that is, I hope the Minister's office will ensure that this legislation will not gather dust — if I may use that phrase — as other legislation has been allowed to do.

I appeal to the Minister to set a smog alert system in train for the winter as part of a management plan. My reason for stating the need for an air quality management plan for Dublin is not necessarily that it is not needed to enforce the legislation; it is twofold. It would highlight the problem, I do not like to say it would embarrass the authorities into doing something about it, but they should be directed to instigate a management plan and to put down on paper the extent of the problem on environmental and health grounds. They could then set about their recommendations to do something about it. I hope that that would include the creation of a smokeless zone for Dublin.

I want to refer briefly to the Minister's reply to me about the smog alert. I meant to refer to a smoke alert and not a smog alert. I realise that Dublin does not have a problem in regard to smog unlike continental countries and America. Smoke — and smog — are caused by climatic conditions which often occur in Dublin in winter. On many occasions there is no movement of air and, as we are surrounded by mountains, the smoke stays there. I appeal once more to the Minister to consider a smoke alert system which would be very important for a number of people who suffer from diseases or conditions which are exacerbated by excessive smoke in winter. If such a system was in place they could avoid infection after infection by staying indoors when smoke is particularly bad. It would also encourage people, as Deputy Brady said, to use alternative forms of fuel. After all, people cut down on usage if there is a water shortage and they would do the same in regard to fuel if they thought their efforts would help to ease pollution. People react to crises when they are told about them but, if they are not told, they cannot help. Many Dublin people would realise the difficulties especially if a member of their family is an asthmatic or has a bronchial condition.

I support Deputy Brady's view on the air quality management plan. What is the point in having it in the Bill if it is irrelevant? I understand that it is not necessary to have an air quality management plan to bring other provisions in the Bill into place but public life has been sadly lacking in planning over the years and this is an instance when we could bring some cohesiveness to bear on the management of air pollution. Just because it has not been brought into being in regard to water pollution does not mean that we cannot go about this in a better way.

I take Deputy Brady's point that if the Minister directs local authorities to prepare an air quality management plan it will alert them to the fact that he is serious about the implementation of the Bill. It will mean that they will look at the whole picture instead of going about it in a piecemeal fashion, perhaps concentrating on high sulphur producing appliances next winter and on something else the following year. We should encourage local authorities to do so, especially those whose areas have large scale problems at present.

We are discussing the air quality management plan which, together with water quality management plans and county development plans, are part of the whole co-ordinated approach to the planning of our environment. We await some sort of planning in relation to waste management although that will take a little time. However, that would tie it all up very neatly and tidily; at least we would have the legislation to do anything that needs to be done in relation to planning and controlling our environment.

The points made by Deputy Brady and Deputy Colley are worth underlining. Is legislation itself good enough if we are not serious about enforcement? I am a little concerned about the Minister's reply in relation to the air quality management plan before us today. In effect, the only areas I think should immediately be asked to produce an air quality management plan are Dublin and greater Dublin. I would hope that that is where the attention will be directed immediately. In theory, problems can arise anywhere, particularly in the larger urban areas. I would hate the excuse that has been there for the last ten years with the water quality management plan, for example, to be used by local authorities if they should be producing these air quality management plans. Has the Minister any specific enabling powers, or any powers to provide adequate finance to local authorities to insist that they implement an air quality management plan if he deem it necessary? The grants are there to help householders and others to convert from one type of appliance or fuel to another but quite frankly, with the perilous state of many a local authority at the moment, they have used, with some justification, the excuse — and the very reasonable one — that they have neither the staff not the resources to take on board any more legislation that we may pass in this House. In the past ten years there have been six or seven pieces of legislation passed here that have direct implications for the financial resources of local authorities but the authorities have not been given any additional resources to implement such legislation. Will there be an out now in relation to air quality management plans because of the lack of finance in local authorities? I hope that will not be a reason for our not having our air quality management plans.

Let me ask your indulgence, a Cheann Comhairle, while I am on my feet. I must leave now so I shall not see this legislation out to the end but as I was the person who brought it through the Seanad on all Stages during the last administration, I should like to compliment the Minister for his tremendous co-operation and the interesting and lively debate on Second Stage and the almost completed Committee Stage. I found him very receptive to the views of Deputies on all sides of the House and I thank him for bearing with us.

The passage of this Bill is perhaps a major tribute to the European year of the Environment. I hope the passage of this Bill, will mean, too, that the European Commission will not pursue the action they initiated against Ireland in the European Court because of its tardiness in coming to heel on these very matters and that now that we are in a position to take on board the European directives as part of our own legislation all will be well with our environmental colleagues in Europe. The very fact that they had to initiate action is, in itself, an indictment of our tardiness and that goes across all parties. We should have seen to this matter long ago but for different reasons that was not possible. As spokesperson for the moment on the environment on this side of the House I thank the Minister for his co-operation on this Bill. I am afraid that a family bereavement takes me away.

I should like to thank the Deputy for her kind words of support. We can all agree in matters of this kind that there are no politics in it. It is a question of doing the right thing for the community at large and if suggestions or amendments come forward which are reasonable, why should I not take them on board? There is nothing confrontational in this legislation and for that reason I am happy to have the comments of all Deputies.

Deputy Brady mentioned equipment which he is aware of being available in so far as dealing with this type of pollution is concerned. What he was referring to probably was the total suspended particulate system for measuring smoke, the system used in Germany and certain other countries; also the black smoke filters system which measures smoke concentrations and which is based on OECD standards. Both of these measures are acceptable to the EC if one wants to measure the type of thing about which Deputy Brady was talking.

In reply to Deputies Colley and Doyle, management plans, to my way of thinking, are not at all irrelevant. I regard them as an essential part of the legislation. They are important and local authorities can initiate those plans of their own accord. I presume that a local authority like Dublin Corporation or Dublin County Council who have to deal with this difficulty would initiate such plans. They can do this on their own, or I can direct them to do it. I take it that there has been a fair amount of public support in those two corporate bodies for doing something to eliminate smoke in certain areas of this city and that they will be initiating such studies and plans. I expect them to do so and if they do not I always have the fall back position where I can direct them to do so. I hope it would not be necessary for the Minister to be dictating to local authorities that have a desperate problem within their own area or that they would seek to be directed by a Minister on all important areas of public health that deal with their own constituents.

My attitude towards the plan was that it is not essential to have such a plan in place before you initiate a programme to deal with a problem that exists.

It was in that regard that I raised the question about resources that would be available. I should like to think that we would put whatever limited resources are available into adapting houses so that they would emit either as little as possible or no smoke. I would also like to seek support, whether from my own resources or from EC sources, to help with research and development for the smokeless fuels or other types of fuel that Deputy Colley referred to. That, in the long term, would relieve much of the pressure, whether by grant system or aid in any form she likes. It would resolve the situation and that is the way we would be heading. It might happen that in the not too distant future there was no need for any of these special area control orders. However, that can only be achieved by better use of existing smokeless fuels, better development of appliances and new technology and by putting a little research into the types of smokeless fuels and can come and will be coming on stream in the near future. I give that only as my personal opinion. That is the direction in which the resources should be going. It in no way suggests that the management plans would be irrelevant, or not necessary. They certainly will be, but in their own good time.

The question about possible discussion with the meteorological service is interesting. To get a total overview of how emissions of smoke are moved from one area to another and of the whole question of transboundary pollution and the movement of SO 2 in the high atmosphere, it would be essential that discussions take place with the meteorological service so that one could establish quite clearly the areas of danger of a particular prevailing wind, particular atmospheric conditions, or whatever. That is a fair comment and I take it on board. Such a discussion should take place with a view to establishing the best means of assessing where pollution occurs and the reasons for it at a particular time.

Certainly, I am not in the business of closing down streets of houses. That is not on. We should be looking at the matter in a different way. We should be hoping to provide the means whereby the best use can be got from the available appliances, new technology and new types of fuels so that it would not be necessary to put people to a great deal of trouble. I am quite sure that one could scare many domestic householders who would not be able to meet the demands of such an order unless one were given the option as to how to get around it and make a contribution. That comes back to the educational process, I readily understand that. So far as the preservation and protection of our environment is concerned, we must face up to the fact that we do not look after what is given to us free, gratis and for nothing. We do not keep it in good condition. We are not handing it on to those who come after us in the condition in which we found it. This is one piece of legislation which is trying to control that, but so many others are already on the Statute Book and not being applied.

Like the Litter Act.

The Deputy will be sorry to know that in the past week I have been taken aback by the amount of litter and rusty old cars thrown around our scenic areas, in streams and watering places and other amenities throughout the country. I have issued a direction to the county councils that I want such litter got rid of. I have been very blunt in the matter. There is no need for this indiscriminate dumping. People are responsible for it and so far as I am concerned they must be pursued with the full rigour of the law so as to clear the countryside of this poor attitude towards our wonderful environment which is recognised worldwide.

The educational process is vital if we are to approach this problem in a proper way. Adults are watched by their children, so they will resist doing something which will offend them. If children are brought up to understand that something is to be protected, preserved and looked after in a proper way they will not create pollution and will indicate to their parents, when they see pollution being created, not to do it. It is very important that the civics and environmental studies on the old school curriculum should never be forgotten. If I had my way I would have these subjects as a permanent feature on the school curriculum.

In so far as giving extra money to local authorities is concerned I take Deputy Doyle's point. In a strange way it might not always be necessary to provide extra resources to local authorities to implement a legislation like this. At present there are almost 900 engineers and technicians of various grades working for the local authorities. Many local authorities now have water laboratories and other types of laboratories. When all that expertise is taken together it is not too much of a burden to put on the existing resources of local authorities to implement legislation which only means utilising the full strength of their existing technical services. I do not think this would be too onerous on the local authorities. So far as I am concerned the legislation is there and they are going to have to implement it.

With the best will in the world I appreciate what the Minister has said about the hope and aspiration that we would not have to go down the road of directing control areas for smoke control. We would like to move in the direction of using smokeless fuels, proper fireplaces and so on. Perhaps that is an altruistic motive but I think it is the right one to have. Experience from other cities throughout Europe and in Belfast where there are smoke free zones has shown that the air is considerably better in those cities than it is in Dublin. Smoke free zones were introduced in London during the mid and late fifties because people died as a result of the bad quality air. The same obtains in other cities in England.

It is impossible to expect that people will protect the environment. Unfortunately this is not going to happen either for nationalistic motives, cost effectiveness or whatever other reason. People are going to pollute the environment be it in a manner to which the Minister referred through the leaving of wrecked cars around the countryside, littering or polluting the air and water. The only way of counteracting this pollution is through direct law enforcement. Given the examples of the air being cleared in other cities by creating smokeless zones, there is no other way forward. If we hope that the vested interests who are providing and selling coal will conduct their business without any type of directive legislation then we are in a status quo. We will be back to square one. We will be told that we have nothing too much to worry about and that figures show that we are within EC levels.

I hope that there will be some directive in relation to this before the year is out. I appeal to the Minister to place on his desk the measures and controls that are going to be set in train by the local authorities to correct the problem. I know the local authorities are conscious of the problem being there. However, being conscious of a problem is one thing but doing something about it is another. The Minister for the Environment has the authority to direct the local authorities. I see this as being part of the functions and responsibilities of the Minister. I hope that local authorities would act in a manner in which we would all wish that they would act. The local authority in Dublin acted perhaps against the best will and wishes of the vast majority of the citizens living in Dublin because of the decision they took on the Wood Quay site.

I do not want to labour this but if the Minister leaves this within the will of the local authorities to take action he could be sadly disappointed. I would not wish that to be the case.

From listening to his contributions on this debate I know that the Minister is firm in his resolve about this problem. Timely though it might be that smokeless fuels and special grates are becoming available we might fall into the trap of leaving this type of research to produce a cure to the problem. Of course it will not produce a cure. There is no question about this. Action is being taken purely because of public consciousness from medical statements and by visual examination of the deterioration in our environment. This deterioration can now be seen if one looks down on the city from the Dublin Mountains. Action is being sought by the people whose homes and property are deteriorating and depreciating as a direct result of the bad quality air in the city.

In many cases offices are installing equipment to counteract the bad air in the city which is causing problems of tension, bad work posture and bad work ethics. I appeal to the Minister to direct the local authorities. Perhaps the Minister, with the best will in the world, is misreading the situation and a little cracking of the whip by taking this firm action in the context of this Bill would help enormously to set in train the results we wish. The Minister should give them until the end of 1987, that is six months, to approve a plan for improvement or else declare a smokeless zone for Dublin. It has happened in other cities to great effect. It would not impose hardship. People's health in the long term will be seriously damaged if the problem of pollution is not tackled. Air quality is actually deteriorating and figures show it will get worse unless action is taken.

In relation to the air quality management plan, it occurs to me that as the situation is deteriorating the least we can hope as a result of this Bill is that we hold pollution at its present level. One of the benefits of drawing up an air quality management plan by a local authority would be that, for instance, further building which occurs, such as new housing estates, apartment buildings, new factories or industrial complexes, would have to be subject to this plan. As I understand it, a plan would be drawn up and certain regulations would be made subsequent to that. Without costing money, by requiring existing houses, flats or complexes to be converted, the least we can expect is that further building will not exacerbate the situation particularly in Dublin. Encouragement should be given by way of regulations to builders to use other forms of heating than that which emits a lot of smoke. We should consider using an air quality management plan to link up with planning, at least to hold air pollution at existing levels.

We all welcome the commitment of the Minister and wish him well in his office. As Deputy Brady suggested and as the Minister acknowledged in his last contribution, we have not alone a negative but an almost destructive attitude to our environment. In that case there may be need for a plan. The idea of a six months time limit within which local authorities would respond to the Minister is a good one and if the local authorities do not respond the Minister would have powers to compel them.

We are all concerned about the health of our people and we know about bad health problems people in London suffered before the advent of smokeless zones there. We are concerned to have a healthy nation without too much cost. It would be cost-effective in the long term to have such regulations.

The Minister has often talked about the value of tourism. Our heritage is a great attraction to tourists. We are now encountering a problem with our buildings and monuments which are being eroded and defaced because of pollution and the attempt to keep them clean is costing a huge amount of money. Deputy Brady has already referred to the health and well-being of individuals working and living in those buildings. Our heritage is being destroyed. We are surrounded by faceless statues and monuments and soon we will have to put up plaques to remind us of the people they were meant to commemorate. Taking all these points into account, will the Minister seriously consider applying such statutory regulations or powers if required.

I concur with Deputy Colley's suggestion that the minimum we can do is to introduce regulations that will allow no further deterioration to our environment, by prohibiting in new buildings the use of materials that cause pollution.

Deputy Brady, quite rightly, says that many other cities have taken the initiative in this, so why should we not do so. That is the reason for the legislation before the House. It is not being introduced to end up on the shelf. It is a matter for implementation. If the local authorities cannot find it in their hearts to implement it, then executive power is given to me to take the initiative on their behalf if I have to, and I will.

I take issue with Deputy Brady where he says that control is only possible by law enforcement. I would like to think there was another way. Control by law is the last means of getting the desired result. It would be a pity if we could not bring about the desired result through the educational process to which Deputy Brady referred or by developing the areas of research and development of new fuels or appliances. In that way we might reach the targets we set ourselves without always having recourse to forcing people by law. It is not the ideal way to do business and it is not the ideal way here. It always ends up by being done for a period, and then we slip back into the bad old ways. If we have an educational process which brings people to recognise the right thing to do so that everybody pulls their weight in achieving the targets it will last and it will be less expensive.

In relation to the implementation of this legislation, I will ask the local authorities what they propose to do. Once the legislation is passed I will have an ongoing supervisory role. Surely there will be enough dedicated local authority members to bring the matter up on a continuing basis, members who will press their executive to do something about it? If we fail to get the proper response, I have no doubt this will be the subject matter of some nice questions at the back end of this year when the smoke levels are rising again. I do not expect these questions will be necessary because the local authorities involved are waiting to implement this legislation. That is the message conveyed to me. There is now a great public awareness of the value of a clean environment. Nowadays it is talked about more often and there is great media coverage of the importance of a clean environment. People are more aware of it. There is great concern now among the people about the control of items and pollutants that are the cause of bad health in themselves and their families. That is well and truly documented. However people took it for granted and asked what we could do about it in the past, that is not so now. People are not prepared to spend the rest of their lives coughing and having all kinds of illness brought down on them because of pollution when they recognise that there is a way of remedying it. This is part of the remedy.

People might think that the Minister should crack the whip and he will get a better response. I did not have to crack the whip too hard. Some of the people involved in the distribution of fuels in this city came in to see me recently. I gave the opportunity on Second Stage for people to come and see me when I said that I was open to suggestions from all those who had an interest. Not too many showed the interest but some of the big distributiors showed an interest, maybe because they had their own reasons, but it was not necessary for me to crack the whip at them. They appreciated and supported the thrust of this legislation and all they were concerned they would at least make the point that we should try to identify the sources before the control area order was finally put in place. That was reasonable because the coal distributors or whoever are not the only people in this city causing the serious emissions of smoke and SO 2. Some very large industrial concerns are creating a very serious level of pollution in this city over and above the domestic users. When I said that to the people who distribute these fuels, they more than readily gave their full support to trying to do something to remedy the situation.

Deputy Colley referred to applications made through local authorities for planning permission for new developments. It is most proper that the technical officers would take notice of legislation like this in developing their schedule of conditions as applied to the developments for which they seek permission. It is most proper that they do that and I expect that the authorities will do so. We do not want to pass legislation to correct something later on if permission is granted on the other hand to elements who are going to increase the incidence further still. I see it the other way round, that planning authorities would take due cognisance of the reason behind this and the need to correct what is already a crisis here in certain areas of the city.

I take the point also in relation to the design of new housing. It is much less expensive to have in place a suitable appliance in the domestic area from the point of view of design at the initial stages rather than a conversion later which invariably seeks support from the State, again by way of grant assistance. There is a point to be taken there in regard to having this type of appliance available in any new local authority housing that we might be considering grant aiding or assisting by way of capital injection in the future. I will bring that point to the notice of the powers that be in the design of those areas.

At the first available opportunity, once this legislation is in place, we will be licensing new industrial plant that will be coming on stream. Such plants will not be able to go into production without the licence, and I would expect that the licence will be gone into in some detail and will in effect give the overall control necessary to keep the emissions and the smoke levels at least at the level they are at now and lower by new measures to be taken subsequently, but certainly not increasing the levels that exist already. This legislation can go a long way towards that.

Deputy Barnes made a good point about the cost factor involved in all these things. The control of emissions and the reduction of air pollution from smoke by putting money and resources into such areas must be preferable by far to subsequently having to put it into health services which are hyped up in their need for cash because we did not take the step first of controlling the basis for the type of illness that has been referred to. Our health services might not cost quite so much if we had all the controls in place and spent some of the money in creating the environment in advance of the disease.

The Minister suggests that when we have this legislation in place local authorities will take due cognisance of it with regard to further planning permission. Will they refuse planning permission unless the conditions that we are speaking about now are complied with?

Many new applications come in for industrial development which is grant assisted and aided by the State anyway, and these new controls are incorporated in the kind of plant they use. The technical staff of the planning authorities would be mindful of that. I see no difficulty there in so far as new plant is concerned. We will be licensing those new plants anyway, so they cannot come into production unless they comply with the levels incorporated in the standards accepted by the authorities for their areas. I see no conflict there. We are going to make big strides in control in that respect.

What about new housing?

Deputy Colley raised a point about new houses and the new type of appliances that might be available to burn new fuels. I promised to indicate to the powers that be in the design of new housing that it might be appropriate now to put in place the type of technology in heating that would lead to a reduction of what would normally be expected from open fireplaces in such homes.

I would like a final word on this——

We are here confronted with the inevitability of flowing over into sections 47 and 48 and I have been somewhat tolerant in that respect. Presumably when we reach those two sections we will be mindful that quite an amount of what can be discussed then has been discussed now.

In relation to the air quality management plans, I do not believe that the planning authority in a local authority area would really take cognisance of standards set out for prevention of air pollution unless there is something that they can point to which indicates that for this area these are the standards that must prevail. That is there. I applaud the air quality management plan in this Bill. If there is one in existence for a local authority then the planning authority can say, "Pursuant to air quality management plan, section whatever, we refuse such planning permission on the basis that it does not comply". I realise that with the best will in the world the planners and technical people will take into account certain things but they will not have the backing of a Bill or something like that in order to refuse planning permission.

Coming back to the point of our not having planned enough in our society, I would prefer to see a structured plan adopted for an area that would deal with it properly and that it would be adhered to.

That point is well made and I see the reason for it. If I gave the impression that I was somehow minimising the need for these quality management plans I did not intend it that way. I was putting it in context that it is not necessary to have that made and completed before you move to address the problems that already exist. By all means have a control there. When that control is in place the planning authority can put it into their schedules for the developments sought, but it will not stop the authorities from dealing with what Deputy Brady referred to as the crisis as he sees it now in an area in Dublin. I see the whole thing going on in tandem.

Under the provisions of this section a plan must contain objectives for the prevention or limitation of air pollution and for the preservation or the improvement of air quality. Obviously there will be specific directions needed in regard to each area. We are all aware from where the problem emanates in the capital city, the burning of bad fuels, non-swept chimneys and so on. The kernel of the issue is law enforcement. I am not in any way opposing the Minister when he says he will aspire to have local authorities bring about the requisite plans to improve air quality. However, experience has shown that the only way forward in these respects is through direct law enforcement. For example, people will not park their cars illegally because they will be fined for so doing. Bearing human nature in mind it must be acknowledged that the law will be broken unless the penalty is severe and seen to be enforced.

I would appeal to the Minister to direct Dublin Corporation to bring forward a management plan for a smokeless zone for Dublin city by the end of this year. The Minister should let them come back to him with reasons that cannot be done, if that is contended. It is being done in other cities. There is no reason it cannot be done here.

The special control area zone might constitute a very small area whereas an air quality management plan might be an entirely different matter or cover a larger area. But, of course, they will run together or simultaneously. For example, if one had a management plan in existence now one could base a special area control order on it. While such management plan is being devised one could have a special control area zone. I would expect a local authority to do so. Of course once an Act is on the Statute Book one does not request a local authority — it is part of the law of the land — and they are supposed to comply with its provisions. I do not foresee any difficulty in that. I think local authorities will comply with those provisions.

Question put and agree to.

Is section 47 agreed?

It is agreed. It was discussed together with section 46, not by direction of the Chair but because it was involved with the question of what the Minister might do by way of direction to local authorities.

Sections 47 to 50, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 51.
Question proposed: "That section 51 stand part of the Bill."

This section has to do with emission limit values. The provisions of this section will require, at the very least, that proper instruments are available for monitoring emission levels with regard to the control of pollution in given areas. I am not so sure this equipment is available. While I did not refer to a unit being available in the atmospheric pollution control section of Dublin Corporation it was pointed out to me there that they lack equipment for measuring other noxious gases in the atmosphere that contribute to air pollution, oxide being one. There are other pollutants apart from sulphur dioxide and the smoke-suspended particles about which we spoke. I should like assurance from the Minister that we have sufficient equipment to enable us carry out this task. Unless we can monitor emission levels of poisionous gases and so on in parts of the capital city or elsewhere thoughout the country the provisions of this Bill will be inept. It is important that we satisfy ourselves in this respect.

In this, the Year of the Environment we might look to the EC, bearing in mind that we as a nation, are taking this year very seriously. The provisions of this Bill will form an important part of our overall legislation. We should point out that we are endeavouring to have these provisions implemented and ascertain whether we can be assisted by way of equipment needed urgently to monitor emission levels in various parts of the country.

This section enables the Minister to specify, by regulations, emission limit values. An emission limit value is a concentration of a pollutant or pollutants in an emission from a plant and which during a specified period is not to be exceeded. In contrast to air quality standards, emission limit values would represent a quantified control applying directly to the premises concerned. Emission limit values have not yet been widely applied at EC level although the framework directive on combating air pollution from industrial plants allows for such standards. A draft EC directive on reducing pollution from large combustion plants proposes Community emission limit values for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and dust. Clearly the power to set emission limit values may be required in the future to implement the relevant EC provisions.

The provisions of this section provide that different emission limit values may be set for different areas, different circumstances or different periods. Emission limit values could be used to impart uniformity to the licensing system operated by local authorities. They could also be used to replace controls now applicable under the Alkali, etc. Works Regulation Act, 1906 in relation to certain industrial premises. It is possible to have special stack monitoring equipment placed on these big emitters. I would expect that, in the licensing of industrial plant, as far as emissions are concerned, it would be a requirement of the licence to have such stack monitoring equipment put in place. I understand it is reasonably expensive. But, if one is to get a proper reading and control, these are the kinds of requirements that will be applicable to the type of licence that will be granted to such major industrial concerns.

I take it that the provisions of this section are concerned more with mointoring the source of pollution in the course of manufacture of some product. I would be more concerned about emissions from a plant, because it is there one would determine the source of the pollution. In some cases agricultural pollution can be a direct result of pollution in the air, causing damage to cattle or surrounding farmland, resulting from pollutants from a given chemical plant. In the past Ireland was viewed by some European countries as lacking in the area of effective controls, as being easy to site industries in that might not be sited in other continental countries. We have lacked the regulations to cope with this problem. Without naming firms that have been brought to court, in some cases unjustifiably but in others justifiably, my concern is that we have the proper equipment to enable us stand over the measurement of emissions from plants of this kind. It is very difficult to measure particular chemicals that become enmeshed with others in the air but it can be done. It does not necessitate outrageously expensive equipment and such equipment is available. I want the Minister and his Department to be satisfied that we have the requisite equipment to carry out that task.

Is it the Minister's intention to control the emission from vehicles? Statutory Instrument No. 190 of 1963 deals with this subject. I do not know if it has been incorporated into this Bill or if it will be discontinued.

That is dealt with under section 53.

Will the draft EC directive which the Minister mentioned deal with the most noxious emission of all which is nuclear radiation? It would affect us very much.

Nuclear emissions are excluded under section 3 of this Bill. Deputy Colley's question will be dealt with under section 53. In reply to Deputy Brady, this section is in contrast to section 50. It dealt with the atmosphere in general whereas section 51 deals with matters called point sources, that is industrial emissions from particular plants and developments. A case raised here earlier was Moneypoint. There has been a lot of talk about the emission of SO 2 from that source. There are stack monitors at Moneypoint and that gives the exact monitoring control which is required. We are talking about the limits which are applicable to particular production processes. This special monitoring equipment will be available and will form part of the licensing of new and existing plant.

Will the Planning Acts be affected by section 51? Can conditions be inserted in planning permissions to make it mandatory for a plant to have monitoring equipment and to send quarterly reports on emission levels to the local authority. The best way to get to the root of the problem is through planning permissions where a plant is depending on by-law approval.

This is dealt with in Part III. We are going beyond the Planning Acts as far as that is concerned. Part III deals with the licensing of industrial plant and is a more effective means of dealing with the problem.

I am inclined to believe the subject of emissions from vehicles should be dealt with under section 51. Section 53 deals specifically with the type of fuel which may be sold or used and also with the make-up of such fuel. What I am concerned about are the buses and lorries that belch out fumes; they may be using fuel which may be all right but the condition of the vehicles causes the emission. It does not seem that is dealt with under this section.

No, it is not. Section 51 deals with stationary plant. The Deputy is talking about mobile sources. They are dealt with under section 53. It is important that they be segregated in order to have the right balance in the legislation.

My point concerns stationary plant and is about the burning of scrap in the centre of the city. I expect this section will deal with the burning of lead which is a very deadly metal when it is burned. As is known, lead pollution stays in the body and is an insidious poison. It is never removed from the body. Children are very susceptible to poisoning from lead and expectant mothers are prone to serious damage as a result of lead pollution.

There is a hotch-potch kind of plant in the Ranelagh-Rathmines area which has been engaged in the open smelting of lead for many years now. It is well known by anyone living in Dublin. They have flouted the law. They have no planning permission and yet they have been able to slip through the net of existing by-laws and avoid prosecution. McGovern's scrapyard has caused immense problems and worry to people living in the area.

It is practically impossible to monitor lead pollution. You depend on the dust levels which settle in the surrounding areas and these can be washed away by the rain or with a bucket of water. People can see the lead deposit on their window panes. They have to close their windows even in this lovely warm weather which we are experiencing. Will this section control such unscrupulous plants which carry out smelting in confined areas, whether it be flatland or residential areas? They should either have to close their plant or relocate it elsewhere. Will the legislation cover plant of that kind and not just the seeking of planning permission for new premises and new plant? Will it include those plants already in existence?

In my part of county Dublin there was a battery burning operation for which a lot of air pollution arose. I am concerned that we take the steps necessary to allow us to deal with such abuses. Following the enactment of this Bill will local authorities have personnel who are trained in the operation, reading and understanding of monitoring equipment? In such a technical area there will be a need for such personnel. Does the Minister envisage some form of briefing, seminars and educational process in this regard? It is very difficult for local authorities to have this type of technical expertise. How do we envisage that this will be made available? The onus should be on the operators to provide the equipment for the local authorities to check and monitor the functioning of an operation by way of read-outs, levels of safety and so on.

The matter raised by Deputy Brady is adequately catered for in section 58 of the Bill. He referred to smelting in very confined areas. I hope that kind of activity is not taking place. It is certainly not taking place in the first location mentioned by the Deputy but whether it has been transferred to some other area I am not sure. I see no hiatus between the introduction of this legislation and the 1985 regulations.

I agree with Deputy Lawlor that there is need for specialised training for certain technicians or engineers of local authorities in order to deal properly with the monitoring equipment. That would certainly be necessary. The local authorities would either have to allow some of their technicians to get involved in a training process or they would have to contract for it to the IIRS or some other specialist body who deals with those matters. I do not see any difficulty there. There are almost 900 engineers working for local authorities and out of that, particularly in the numbers employed in the local authorities close to the city, there are bound to be a few who have a special interest in this matter and who would be more than happy to avail themselves of specialist training to deal with the equipment. I do not see this as a problem but specialists are needed in this area.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 52 agreed to.
SECTION 53.
Question proposed: "That section 53 stand part of the Bill."

This is a very welcome section. When this legislation was being framed I was concerned that it might not include the question of the regulation of the lead or the benzene content of petrol or the sulphur content of gas or other fuels. This is critically important because we in Ireland are dragging our heels so far as the introduction of lead-free petrol is concerned. It should be at least available as a choice but unfortunately it is not readily available. I realise the commercial implications of the need to produce in the southern region petrol that has a higher lead content than would be desired. I know the Minister has plans to phase out petrol with a lead content but the damage is being done. We should set a date, say, the end of the year, to make it mandatory on garages to provide at least a choice between lead-free petrol and petrol with lead.

Many of the vehicles coming into the country can be easily adapted to cope with lead-free petrol. There is talk about the higher cost of lead-free petrol but I have grave doubts about that. The charging for fuels, certainly in the Republic of Ireland, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of cuts as that can be made quickly in the cost of petrol. The cost of fuel in this country is inordinately high. Oil companies in particular, and who in the past have made vast profits from selling petrol, should realise the health and environmental implications of continuing to sell petrol with a lead content. It is a little like cigarette smoking in a sense. It is mandatory for those engaged in the sale of cigarettes to put a health warning on their product. The very same should apply with regard to the sale of petrol and products that have a lead content. For example, many paints have a lead content, petrol has a lead content and even some cosmetics have lead content but products with a high lead content that is injurious to people's health should carry health warnings as should petrol with lead content. In a confined space where there is a very high traffic count, fumes from petrol with a lead content can be very injurious to the health of the people living in that area.

In areas of Dublin, particularly around the city quay area, the emissions of lead from cars in dense traffic were monitored and the lead pollution was found to be way above acceptable world health standards. It is disgraceful, given the medical evidence available to us at present, that this practice is allowed to continue. It is outrageous that we in Ireland permit this to happen. A changeover to lead-free petrol should be immediately set in train.

In Australia, a vast open area, it is mandatory that a particular device which controls the emission of the quality of exhaust fumes going into the atmosphere is fitted to the exhaust of motor cars. The Minister should investigate the possibility of introducing a similar device here. This would be an ideal opportunity, when speaking about pollution from moving sources, for the Minister to investigate the possiblity of directing the manufacturers of vehicles to attach this device to exhausts. It would not be an expensive item. We cannot look constantly to the Government to provide money such as this to equip vehicles with these devices. The commercial firms involved should provide them.

Deputy Lawlor stated that people with static plants should have the equipment on hand to read out the levels of pollution to the authorities when they arrive. After all, if the VAT man arrives to a business you have to have the figures for him so why should the levels of air pollution not be available to the Department of the Environment? That is a very good point and should be followed on. The Minister would have an opportunity of investigating this possibility for motor cars and the result would be tremendous.

In Tokyo, for example, it is mandatory to have cars fitted with gaseous recovery devices which reduce greatly the pollution from moving vehicles. As a start, with all the evidence available to the Minister, a demand should be made for lead-free petrol in this country. I remember 1982 when I was Minister of State at the Department of the Environment the regulation had come in that we were going to reduce the lead in petrol within a year. Now, five years later, our petrol is still leaded and this lead should be eliminated immediately.

This Bill deals mainly with emissions from stationary sources. Section 53 which concerns the regulation of fuel, however includes power to control fuel for mechanically propelled vehicles. We already have made regulations under the European Communities Acts to implement EC standards on the lead content of petrol and the sulphur content of gas oil or diesel.

Section 11 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961, enables the Minister to make regulations in relation to the use of vehicles. The 1963 Regulations on the Construction, Equipment and Use of Mechanically Propelled Vehicle include provisions on emissions from vehicles. However, it should be noted that neither in Ireland nor in many other parts of the motorised world have road traffic controls by themselves been especially effective in achieving environmental objectives such as better air qualities. Consequently, at EC level and within other international environmental bodies, the emphasis is now on vehicle emission controls which will not principally depend on driver behaviour. Limitation of vehicle emissions is now being approached primarily through controls on fuel inputs and on vehicle design and I am convinced that this is the most appropriate approach. Section 53 will provide for environmental regulation of all vehicle fuels. Measures are being negotiated at EC level to require cleaner vehicle engine technologies which, in our case, would be implemented through the type approval system. I feel therefore that when all the current measures are fully implemented there will be an ample legislative base from which to control emissions and that further amendment of this Bill will not be necessary.

I am particularly keen to promote unleaded petrol. This has been a gradual development in some EC countries. It is an interesting point that all leaded petrol in Ireland observes the limit of 0.15 grammes of lead per litre. That is the lowest level to which it is physically possible to reduce leaded petrol. You cannot do better. It is encumbent on us to have a reasonable network of filling stations selling unleaded petrol and to have our lead content reduced to 0.15 grammes by 1989, but we have already done that. We have done a lot better than some of our neighbours. We have met the deadline long before 1989. The only other deadline we have to reach in 1989 is that we must have a reasonable spread of forecourts selling unleaded petrol. I would like to see this spread develop on the major national primary routes and near the ports because many tourists drive cars which can only use unleaded petrol.

It is in our own best interest to take this step and it will be forced on us anyway by the improved technology of vehicle development. I believe that in not too many years only vehicles which use unleaded petrol will be available. We are dependent on vehicles which have been developed in the EC but our European partners are very conscious of the environment, particularly the Scandinavians who have very high standards and have made great strides in the development of technology for engine development.

As I said, we are meeting the EC requirement so far as the lowest possible level of lead in petrol can be achieved— 0.15 grammes of lead per litre. We have reached this target in advance of the time schedule and I am satisfied that it will be possible to buy unleaded petrol throughout the country.

I congratulate the Minister on announcing that we have the lowest amount of lead in petrol possible. My understanding is that we have two forecourts at present——

——selling unleaded petrol.

Because of pressure by the Minister. I am continually asking them——

—— a little more cracking of the whip, as was suggested on previous sections. I agree that this section is designed to take account of this problem, and will do so in time. Having looked at this section, at section 51 and at the statutory instrument I referred to earlier, there seems to be a loophole where the emissions from vehicles already in existence, for instance, buses and lorries are not covered. I appreciate that new vehicles will take into account the desirability of having very low emissions of noxious substances but at the moment we do not control the vehicles which are already on the road and I do not see anything in this Bill which will provide for these vehicles.

In Dublin and in other cities cyclists and those who must be in the city regularly can be disturbed by the air pollution caused by emissions from vehicles. I ask the Minister to address this problem in the context of this Bill because I do not see how it can be dealt with under this section which deals with the fuels in a car and regulations about the sale and distribution of those fuels, but there are no regulations dealing with combustion. I know this is a difficult area to deal with. What can we do? Are we to take cars off the streets? Who will do this? Vehicles using unleaded petrol are one of the greatest pollutants in our cities at the moment.

Recognising that the Minister prefers to encourage rather than crack the whip and adding to what Deputy Colley said about the difficulty and the cost of getting people to change over to vehicles using unleaded fuel, may I suggest that one way would be to actively encourage the sale of vehicles which have been converted to non-leaded petrol, plus selling unleaded petrol at a lower rate? To encourage people to have their engines converted to use unleaded petrol — I do not know if this would be very expensive — and to buy new vehicles which would use unleaded petrol only, would it be possible to reduce the Government tax? I know the collection of taxes is a very sensitive issue but this might encourage people to change to unleaded petrol in their old or new vehicles.

Could our refinery be brought into this discussion? There could be a weighted advantage that the 30 per cent of the fuel they provide to the multinationals should be lead free. If necessary perhaps we could force the oil companies to take more lead-free products, maybe at a financial gain. It is generally accepted that lead-free petrol will be the order of the day in future. It is all to do with Government and their determination to make the oil companies bring it forward. If the product is made available, the Government must do something to ensure that it is used. If our own refinery does not produce lead-free petrol we are contradictory in our intent in that regard.

Interestingly, all stations sell low-lead petrol but only three of them sell unleaded petrol. Buses and lorries have an annual check up, in so far as the granting of licences is concerned, which includes an exhaust emissions check and they can have difficulties in getting their licences renewed if they do not comply——

Does that apply to CIE?

They are supposed to have it done when they go for the annual check. Of course, the following day it could be as bad again. However, if the check indicates that there is a fault it is attended to. We are awaiting the obsolescence of existing vehicle stock and for new technology to be brought in. We cannot do much about that because we do not manufacture the new technology but we can control the type of petrol going into existing cars. An interesting statistic is that about one-third of all motor cars running in Ireland could use unleaded petrol. They are cars of a far eastern design and their technology in engine development is more advanced than that of other countries. Other cars could not run on this petrol even if it was available.

Do State cars qualify?

Not the State car which I use. They are good guzzlers of juice but they do not have the kind of developed engine which I would purchase if I had the choice. However, that is another story. Not alone do traffic jams cause pollution, one bad traffic jam can cost about 1,500 gallons of petrol. When that is taken into account——

And the asphyxiation of cyclists.

——one must realise the economics concerned. I am sure Deputy Barnes will be in the House for the passage of the Finance Bill and I invite her to raise the question of the taxation of unleaded petrol with the Minister for Finance.

Deputy Lawlor raised an interesting point in regard to the Whitegate refinery. It has not the capacity at present to produce unleaded petrol as it does not have a cracking unit installed but I understand that they are actively considering the need which will exist in a short time to provide unleaded petrol. Despite the fact that it is an old plant it is possible to have certain modifications carried out which will enable the refinery to produce unleaded petrol. As we move towards 1989 and more forecourts are providing unleaded petrol, cars coming in from abroad will only work on this kind of petrol. Obviously, whether we have to import it or if it is made in Whitegate, we will have to provide it.

The Bill does not control emissions from vehicles already in existence?

The problem will still remain after the Bill is passed. I accept what the Minister said in regard to a yearly check on lorries and buses running on diesel in certain State bodies. As we still have pollution, what further checks will be implemented? If an air pollution Bill does not deal with a very large percentage of the existing pollution in the capital city, we can throw our hats at it.

I made a point earlier on to which the Minister omitted to refer. I said that there were devices available which can be fitted to cars, including those not of the most modern manufacture, which comply with the regulations in the Far East to which the Minister referred. These devices go a very long way towards bringing them within EC regulations and dramatically improve the control of exhaust emissions. Encouragement could be given to vehicle owners to fit these devices. The Minister said that there were regulations under the Traffic Acts which control emissions and he also said that licences would not be issued unless vehicles complied with them. Does the Minister know the number of prosecutions which have been issued for a breach of regulations of this kind in Dublin city? I could not get any facts or figures from local authorities when I inquired but perhaps this information is now available. The Minister said that 1,500 gallons of fuel were wasted in one traffic jam. One must also consider the number of hours lost by people trying to get to work. In Switzerland and America, for example, you must turn your engine off at traffic lights if the signal is red. That cuts down an immense amount of pollution from moving vehicles.

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings in so far as appliances for lessening emissions from vehicles is concerned, the kind of appliance to which Deputy Brady referred is a catalytic converter. To fit a heavy vehicle with such a device would cost from £500 to £700 and I do not have to say what that would cost for one million vehicles. They can only run on unleaded petrol which, unfortunately, is not yet available. Which should come first? I do not think that such devices are feasible. Other types of appliances have been tried. I saw one tried on a car a few years ago which reduced emissions and achieved better economy from the point of view of petrol used. However, it did not take off and was not a success for some reason. It did not succeed in Europe, either. A company I was aware of were interested in developing the appliance, but it failed in its intent.

I regret the figure for the number of prosecutions under the Road Traffic Acts is not available to me. It is not broken down in the Garda Commissioner's report but is included with a whole range of other offences which are regarded as not being of major consequence. In effect, it is not realistic to talk about converters at this stage because of the cost impact on the economy.

This is without tax.

The Deputy will be raising that matter with the Minister for Finance, I have no doubt.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 54 and 55 agreed to.
SECTION 56.
Question proposed: "That section 56 stand part of the Bill."

We can get to the root cause of the problem under the Planning Acts. Is it intended in this section to ensure that under the Planning and Development Act of 1963 effect will be given to this new legislation? I do not see any fines listed. How does the Minister see this section in practical application?

Planning permission would have been granted for certain pieces of plant from which there would be serious emissions. This legislation deals with the licensing of such plants. This goes beyond the planning process in so far as it is an advance on it. It is stated specifically that many planning permissions embody conditions regarding emissions of air pollutants and where an existing plant comes within the licensing system of this Bill it is essential that the licence conditions alone prevail. I see this as an advance on what the Deputy has been referring to on this and the previous occasion.

On a point of order, I am conscious it is coming towards 7 p.m. when, apparently, all Stages are to be passed. I spoke to the Minister on the last occasion about some amendments which I was unable to move at that time relating to having application to the Circuit and High Courts rather than just the High Court. Is there any way this can be dealt with if we fail to reach Report Stage? The Minister was considering this matter. I should like to know the result.

At 7 p.m. all Stages must be passed.

Under section 56 (1) are the local authorities going to open to financial expense? It is mentioned that "any conditions attached to that permission shall, in so far as they relate in any way to air pollution, cease to have effect". We then come to the licensing, which the Minister quite rightly identified as a much better procedure. In the transition and with the issuing of the licences and the likely financial burden, will we find our courts clogged up with companies legally doing battle on the basis that they were granted permission with conditions that dealt with this issue? Can we make it retrospective that the licensing will not expose local authorities to compensation claims?

The legislation cannot be retrospective; that would not be right. I have never believed in retrospective legislation. This is the new order of things, the new legislative process that will apply henceforth. I take it that in due course if a management plan is prepared — or even if it is not — if the area control order is put in place and certain encouragements are put on those who are the sources of the pollution, so be it. We cannot impose anything from this legislation on something which has taken place before this.

The conditions cease to have effect; therefore, we are retrospectively dealing with planning permissions granted with conditions. Can the said company endeavour to take a case against the local authority if we insist on licensing, when the authority granted permission with conditions which were supposed to deal with the issue of pollution which we know is not effectively being dealt with?

I do not think there is any conflict. They would not be falling foul of the Planning Act under which they got permission. They would be falling foul of this legislation if a licence situation had applied to them because of this legislative process. Only in those circumstances could they be found liable to do anything, so they would not need to have recourse to a court. I do not see any conflict there. Has the Deputy a particular case in point he would like to put?

Under present planning permissions, pollution is taking place, even though there are conditions under which we hoped pollution would not take place. If that company must take out a licence and incur capital cost in equipment to qualify for a licence and there is a financial burdern involved, because the local authority granted them permission will they be able to argue the case visà-vis exposure to that financial cost in complying with the requirement to obtain a licence?

Would that apply to firms that are sold, that the new owners could be subjected to obtaining a new licence? Could they continue on with the previous plant's regulations?

The Planning Acts only give rights under the Planning Acts. They do not give rights to do things other than those laid down in the schedule of conditions. This is a new legislative process entirely and will be applied to plants after they have been licensed. It will not create a difficulty for those people about whom the Deputy is concerned. I can well see that once a plant is licensed it must be expected to comply with the regulations as laid down in the new process.

I am concerned in case the companies have recourse to the local authority who originally granted them permission. It says under section 56 (1) that, "those conditions will cease to have effect". If in a Bill passing through this House we are taking conditions out of an existing planning permission, will we be exposing the local authority to costs? Tragically for this country and the taxpayer we have found when our courts begin interpreting the words of the Houses of the Oireachtas it can end up very costly. The courts have been finding far too often against the common good. I am concerned in case Dublin County Council find themselves being brought to court.

I can see the point the Deputy is getting at. This is a new legislative process starting as and when it becomes law. If a particular plant gets a licence to control the emissions under this legislation and if that requires the plant operator to instal new emission control systems or whatever, he will just have to do it. This Bill becomes law on a particular date and on that day it applies to the licence granted. There is no question of any problem for the local authority which originally granted the permission.

As it is now 7 o'clock I am required to put the following question in accordance with the Order of the House of this day: "That the Bill as amended is hereby agreed to in Committee, is reported to the House, that the amendments set down by the Minister for the Environment to the Bill on Report are hereby agreed to, that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put and agreed to.

This Bill, which is considered by virtue of Article 22 (2) of the Constitution as a Bill initiated in the Dáil, to be sent to An Seanad.