EU Commission

FIE is publishing for the first time the Circular Letters issued by An Bord Pleanala in response to the EU Court Judgment of 3 July, 2008 striking at the heart of Ireland's ‘build first and apply later' retention culture.

The second Circular letter, issued on the 8th of this month states: 'It is understood that some planning authorities may have incorrectly taken the view that they must comply with and operate the relevant planning legislation as it currently stands, and therefore have continued to make decisions [after July 3 2008] on EIA/Retention applications. The case law of the European Court of Justice makes it clear that administrative bodies such as planning authorities and An Bord Plenala, being emanations of the state, are bound to comply with Community law and if necessary to disapply national law."

It is not surprising that these letters have not yet been published. It is revolutionary to admit that when Irish law conflicts with EU law we must disallow Irish law - and more so as this is the first example of European environmental law being implemented in Ireland WITHOUT legislation to authorize it. By the way, which planning authorities have made what decisions which must now be declared invalid?

Read Circular Letters PD 5/08 & 6/08


Speaking at the University College Cork Law Department's conference on ‘Enforcing European Community Environmental Law' last Thursday, FIE has called for a revision of the legislation that prevents ‘access to a review' to challenge planning decisions under the Strategic Infrastructure and Roads Acts.

FIE quotes High Court Justice Kelly's comment that ‘it is not to credit of this state that it has failed to give effect to its legal obligations' under EU law.

FIE also quotes Justice Clarke's subsequent judgement in which he says that he is ‘satisfied that it might well be necessary to have regard to the requirements of the Directive that there be ‘wide access to justice'. Clarke goes even further and says that in order to provide means of reviewing environmental decisions it may well be necessary to go beyond the ‘existing jurisprudence'.

The presentation also highlights the excuses given by Cork and Mayo Councils in not enforcing quarry registration conditions - that the law does not give them the authority to do so - which we are referring to the Minister for the Environment.

This paper will be updated shortly to incorporate the discussions which took place during the conference.

Read the paper in our library.

Is the Commission aware of reports that heavily contaminated agricultural plastic waste is being moved between EU member states and to third countries in direct contravention of the EU Transfrontier Shipment of Waste (TFS) Regulations? Does it know that it is wrongly being declared as Green List Waste, given that up to 75% of its weight comprises animal bedding and fecal and other farmyard waste material? This could obviously constitute a direct vector for disease spread at a time of high alert for outbreaks of animal epidemics, and negates the EU’s otherwise meticulous control measures, thereby also being of direct concern to the Commission for Consumer Health and Protection. Would it not therefore be appropriate to raise the matter at the next meeting of the Waste Shipment Correspondents Committee in February 2008 and for the Commission to consider launching a through European-wide investigation?Caroline Lucas (Verts/ALE)Parliamentary Question P-0690/088 February, 2008

English MEP Caroline Lucas has set the cat amongst the pigeons by tabling an EU Parliamentary Question about the trans-boundary movements of farm plastics.

The material is heavily contaminated and a vector for animal disease and invasive plant material. See our Press Release. However, to date the Irish authorities have considered it ‘green list' waste and have not subject it to any export controls, in spite of representations from FIE and others. See our (unanswered) Letter to the Minister for the Environment.

Documents FIE has seen reveal that at the end of 2007 the Department admitted that they had ‘little or no' ‘Certificates of Disposal' which ensure the material goes to ‘an environmentally safe outlet' as stipulated by the EU Trans Frontier Shipment Regulations. Under Article 40, it is now the responsibility of the exporting country to ensure that the final destination of waste is environmentally safe.

FIE understands that thousands of tons of this contaminated waste is currently awaiting export - some brought by legitimate companies under contract to Local Authorities to unauthorized sites. The MEP's intervention requires the Commission to investigate - which is turning the spotlight on Ireland.


A reply received to this letter dated 20.02.08 states that this letter has been forwarded to Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, responsible for Energy.

 Stavros Dimas,
Commissioner for the Environment
European Commission,
1 February 2008 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re: Star Energy Ratings for Televisions

Dear Commissioner;

Friends of the Irish Environment was established in 1997 to create and maintain a network of conservationists and environmentalists in Ireland to monitor and develop Irish planning and European law, encourage full public participation, and provide assistance to the public with environmental cases and issues.

It has recently been a matter of public concern in Ireland that televisions are not part of the Star Energy Ratings required throughout the European community for similar electronic items such as clothes washers and driers, refrigerators, and even computer equipment.


Your own scientific advisors will provide you with comparisons of television energy consumption both during use and in standby. There is a wide variety of energy efficiency between types and models.

In broad terms, Plasma TVs average 35 watt per square inch; LCD TVs average 29 watt per square inch while Rear-projection TVs average 14 w/square inch.

These figures are not readily available for any individual model and in the case of some countries [such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency] Star Ratings only provide figures for standby usage.

The demand created by televisions is intensified by video recorders and hard drives which can more than double the power demand and many homes have more than one television.

Our organisation belives that above and beyond any measures to switch to alternative sources of power, conservation must be the cornerstone of government's policy.

However, without proper information, the consumer will be unable to play his part in this important challenge and improvements urgently needed in energy consumption that can be encouraged through the use of progressively introduced minimum standards is denied member states.

Respectfully yours,

Tony Lowes,