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Brussels, 5 May 2010

Environment: Commission sends final warning to Ireland for non-compliance with Court ruling

The European Commission is sending a final warning to Ireland for failing to comply with a European Court of Justice ruling asking it to amend its law on environmental impact assessments. If the necessary steps are not taken, the Commission could refer the case back to the Court and ask for fines to be imposed.

EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "The correct application of EU law on environmental impact assessments is essential to protect Europe's environment and reduce the potential for complaints. I urge Ireland to adopt the necessary improvements to its legislation as quickly as possible."

Final warning over environmental impact assessment case

The case concerns Ireland's failure to comply with a European Court of Justice ruling on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive1. The aim of the Directive is to ensure that projects likely to have a significant impact on the environment are assessed before they are authorised so that people are aware of the possible effects.

In November 2008, the Court ruled that Ireland's legislation did not comply with the EIA Directive to ensure that certain types of project, in this case marine fish farm developments, undergo a procedure to decide whether an environmental assessment is required before consent is granted.

Following the ruling, Ireland referred the Commission to national legislation which it considered addressed the points raised in the Court's judgment. However, after examining the legislation referred to, the Commission found that it does not fully comply with the judgment. In particular, it does not explicitly require that the relevant selection criteria specified in the EIA Directive are considered when deciding whether certain fish farm projects should undergo an environmental impact assessment.

The Irish authorities indicated that they intended to amend their legislation to comply with the judgment. However, given that there has been no amendment to date, the Commission is sending Ireland a final warning. If Ireland fails to take the necessary measures to comply, the Commission could refer the case back to the European Court of Justice and ask for fines to be imposed.

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

1 :

Council Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, as amended by Council Directive 97/11/EEC of 3 March 1997.

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