The measures required to improve our air quality are set out in the National Air Pollution Control Plan and will also be detailed in the national Clean Air Strategy, currently being finalised by my Department. The Strategy will identify and promote the integrated measures and actions across Government that are required to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air, while delivering on wider national objectives.
The National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme, operated by the Environmental Protection Agency, has undergone significant investment and expansion in recent years, with the number of monitoring stations increasing from 30 in 2017 to 96 today. The final expansion of the network in 2022 will include another 15 stations, giving a 110 station network, and serving to increase the evidential base required to inform the policy measures necessary to improve the quality of our air.
While Ireland has traditionally focused on measurements from monitoring stations to assess air quality, there is a need to provide more local air quality information throughout the country. The intention is that the information generated through monitoring, will be augmented by a newly developed modelling and forecasting capability, which will provide an ongoing air quality forecast service to the public.
This work is being developed as part of a new EU LIFE funded project called LIFE EMERALD, which commenced in January 2021. By 2024, this modelling project will deliver a national air quality forecast, a near real-time nowcast, historical modelled maps along with multiple awareness raising and citizen engagement elements.