Full council: March 2022
Councillor Vanessa Liston: That the council develop an Air Quality Strategy for Kildare.
Report: The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) is developing a national Clean Air Strategy with the aim of promoting clean air policies to enhance and protect the quality of the air we breathe.
The Clean Air Strategy is intended to provide the strategic policy framework necessary to identify and promote the integrated measures across government policy that are required to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air while delivering on wider national objectives.
The key strategic priorities are:
• To ensure continuous improvements in air quality across the country
• To guarantee the integration of clean air considerations into policy
development across Government
• To increase the evidence base that will help to continue to evolve our understanding of the sources of pollution in order to address them more effectively
• To enhance regulation and improve the effectiveness of enforcement systems
• To promote and increase awareness of the importance of clean air
The DCCAE are inviting submissions in relation to the proposed Clean Air Strategy and have prepared a paper to aid discussion which is available via the Gov.ie website at gov.ie – National Clean Air Strategy Consultation (www.gov.ie)
Short responses (max 500 words) can be submitted on the Dept’s online
form. Longer submissions can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to Clean Air Strategy Public Consultation, Air Quality Division, Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, Newtown Road, Wexford.
For information purposes, air pollution is governed in primary legislation under the Air Pollution Act 1987. Over the years, a number of amendments have been made to the Act to ensure it is fit for purpose and can support the requirements of air quality enforcement. Additionally, EU air quality legislation has been transposed into Irish legislation through a number of statutory instruments and these have been joined by other secondary legislation to set standards, ensure appropriate monitoring, measurement, reporting and planning across a range of air quality areas.
The EPA is responsible for monitoring ambient air quality as the designated competent authority in Ireland and has expanded the national ambient air quality monitoring network under the national Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (AAMP).
Specifically in relation to next steps, the output from this process will inform government policy in key areas such as agriculture, transport, residential sector, public service etc. This area is clearly not without its complexities as can be gleaned from the draft consultation document. There will not be a requirement to prepare individual ‘County Clean Air Strategies’ but rather give additional guidance to local level in terms of; for example, county development/local area plans, waste management plans, climate action plans etc. There will also be an opportunity for government to strengthen legislation to have greater effect locally, for example, a more comprehensive approach to the Solid Fuel Regs.
In particular, the synergies with climate action should not be underestimated. In this context, there will be a significant opportunity for local government, through the forthcoming climate action plans (which encompass both adaptation and mitigation) to encourage transformational change in such areas as; reducing dependence on fossil fuels and encouraging modal shifts towards more sustainable transport.
In the interim, Kildare County Council continues to assist the EPA/HSE with the monitoring of air quality locally and, indeed, it is pleasing to note that such is generally good.
In summary, I would encourage the members, either individually or by resolution, to engage in this consultation process and all matters can be further considered when the National Clean Air Strategy is finalised. In the short term, there will also be an opportunity to further consider these issues in the context of the Council’s next climate action plans.
Issued by: Mr J Boland, Director of Services, Water Services, Environment and Climate Action
Discussion and outcome: Councillor Liston welcomed the report and the confirmation there would be an opportunity to discuss this matter further. She stated she was glad to see that the Department would work with the local authority sector on this important matter. Councillor Kenny raised an issue in relation to air quality reports.
Mr Boland, Director of Services thanked Councillor Liston for her very timely motion and confirmed he would take up the issue raised by Councillor Kenny on air quality reports with the EPA.
Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Liston, seconded by Councillor Kenny and agreed by the members present, the report was noted.