The Air Pollution Act 1987 (Commencement) Order 2002 recently brought into operation certain sections of the Air Pollution Act 1987 that did not come into force when the act became effective. The order brings into effect Section 22 of the act, which empowers a local authority, in accordance with regulations made by the minister for the environment and local government, to make charges in relation to such emissions as made be specified in the regulations. Section 22 goes on to provide in general terms that the regulations are to deal with such matters as:

  • the manner in which the charge is to be imposed;

  • the imposition of different charges for different emissions and in different circumstances; and

  • the particular emissions in relation to which a charge may be imposed.

Back in 1987 when the Air Pollution Act was brought into force, the notion of making direct charges for emissions (as opposed to charges for monitoring emissions or charges to a regulatory agency for the cost of inspecting emissions, which arguably achieve the same financial objective) was deferred, but it now seems a less radical course, in the context of closer alignment between economics and environmental protection. The implementing regulations are still awaited. Nevertheless, the recent commencement order applies, in a very direct way, the 'polluter pays' principle - one of the fundamental principles of EU environmental policy. It is to be expected that any regulations brought into force will give discretion to local authorities in relation to the imposition of charges, and the imposition of such charges will link up with local authorities' air quality management plans.

For further information on this topic please contact Conor Linehan at William Fry by telephone (+353 1 6395397) or by fax (+353 1 6395333) or by email ([email protected]).