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Ireland faces fines for breaches of EU Legislation


Ireland has been taken to the ECJ (European Court of Justice) by the Commission on many occasions for breaches of EU environmental legislation. To date cases have been settled prior to the imposition of any fines. However Ireland is getting closer to the imposition of fines as a number of cases are now at Stage Two of enforcement proceedings.

In summary Stage One involves a case being taken by the Commission at the ECJ which, if successful, results is a finding against the Member State (MS). A judgment is registered requiring the MS to comply with the relevant legislation. However if the MS continues to be in non-compliance then the Commission can institute Stage Two proceedings against the MS with suggested lump sum and ongoing fines should the proceedings be successful.

There are currently 15 cases being taken against Ireland. Of these 5 could be considered to be at Stage Two. These are;

  • Failure to regulate septic tanks (fines of €2.7m lump sum and €26,173 per day of future non-compliance).
  • Failure to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments are carried out on various agriculture and fish farming projects.
  • Failure to implement the Birds Directive with respect to the designation of SPAs (Special Protection Areas).
  • Failure to implement the Habitats Directive.
  • Failure to require EIAs for particular projects and the facilitation of Planning Retentions which are seen as undermining the effectiveness of the EIA Directive.

Interesting times!