The Programme for Government contains a specific commitment to develop a regional approach to air quality enforcement and a multi-agency approach to clamping down on the sale of high sulphur content fuel imported from the UK, with Local Authorities and the Revenue Commissioners involved.
My Department has commenced discussions with the Local Authority sector to determine how a regional approach to air quality enforcement will be developed. The intention is to establish dedicated resources within regional lead authorities to provide co-ordination, expertise and advice to support effective and consistent implementation of air quality legislation across the country.
Such a coordinated approach is required given the links between burning of solid fuels and the health effects of air pollution, as well as the potential for market distortion for businesses properly adhering to the regulations. Increased multi-agency inspections and enforcement, including the use of fixed payment notices, are required and my Department is fully committed to supporting Local Authorities in this regard.
There is already very good use of multi-agency operations being applied in waste enforcement at a regional level, with supporting national structures. Building on this good practice, I expect significant progress in moving towards a regional multi-agency approach to air quality enforcement in the coming months.