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Limerick Against Pollution – Press Release, November 9th 2020

Limerick Against Pollution (LAP) express grave concerns about EPA Oral Hearing Decision

The environmental campaign group LAP is anticipating further public outrage at the EPA’s latest decision to hold a “virtual” oral hearing on December 2nd on the Irish Cement / CRH application for an emissions license to incinerate toxic waste at their facility in Mungret, Limerick.

“We appealed to the agency to hold off on scheduling the oral hearing until it was safe to do so. We feel strongly that members of the public, understandably concerned for the health of their families, should be given the opportunity to attend and observe these proceedings in an open forum,” said LAP spokesperson, Claire Keating.

“Our request was ignored. Now it appears that the EPA plan to hold the hearing online, pushing the process forward during lockdown and denying citizens the right to open public participation, guaranteed in European Law under the Aarhus Convention.

“This virtual oral hearing prevents citizens from coming together to engage with friends and neighbours. It is important that people understand the risks to public health. Limerick has a very high level of respiratory disease and we need to understand those risks.

“A significant part of our support group are senior citizens and many of them do not have the technological access to participate in a virtual event. Besides their failure to apply the precautionary principle, the EPA seem to be disqualifying the most vulnerable.”

“In this entire process from the planning stage through to the granting of a licence, there has been a complete lack of transparency and public engagement and a flagrant dismissal of the citizen’s rights as enshrined in the Aarhus Convention.

The Aarhus Convention was created to empower citizens and civil society organisations in environmental matters based on the principles of participative democracy. It is now enshrined in Irish and European law. The convention establishes a significant number of rights for individuals and civil-society organisations regarding their exposure to environmental degradation and risk. It guarantees

• Access to environmental information: the right of the citizens to receive environmental information that is held by public authorities;
• Public participation in environmental decision making: the right of the citizens to participate in preparing plans, programmes, policies, and legislation that may affect the environment;
• Access to justice: the right of the citizenry to have access to review procedures when their rights with respect to access to information or public participation have been violated.

The parties to the Convention, including Ireland, must make all necessary provisions so that public authorities, at national, regional or local level, can contribute to effectively supporting these rights for all citizens.

“The EPA, bound by the Convention under Irish law as an arm of the Irish State, is shamefully negligent in its legal and moral obligations to the public,” commented the LAP spokesperson.
Notification Letter from EPA 5th November 2020