Thursday 25 February 2010

Minister announces membership of the Environmental Protection Agency Review Group

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. John Gormley, TD, has formally announced the membership of the (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency Review Group.

The establishment of the Review Group follows on from a commitment made in the Programme for Government of June 2007.

The purpose of the Review is to assess the performance of the EPA, its scope and mandate and to examine whether the Agency has the optimum structure and governance arrangements in place to continue to deliver its objectives effectively - particularly in view of its expanding role and additional functions.

The membership of the group is as follows -

* Dr. Kenneth Irvine, School of Natural Science, Zoology Department, Trinity College
* Professor Sharon Turner, Chair of Environmental Law, Queens University Belfast
* Mr. Jack O’Sullivan, Director, Environmental Management Services
* Dr. Áine Ryall, Law Faculty, University College Cork
* Mr. Fred Langeweg, former Deputy Director, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
* Mr. Larry Stapleton, Former Director, Environmental Protection Agency
* Mr. John McCarthy, Assistant Secretary, Environment Division, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will provide secretariat to the Group.

The Minister said - “Given the key role played by the Agency in monitoring, maintaining and improving Ireland’s environmental performance, I attach a high level of importance to this Review. Good environmental governance is a key priority for me as Minister for Environment and for the Government as a whole - in particular, as an essential element of sustainable development.

"The review is also important in the context of the Transforming Public Services agenda and need for efficiency and effectiveness in a resource constrained environment.”

As part of the Review, there will be a comprehensive consultation process involving the key stakeholders, including Government Departments / Agencies which interact with the EPA, local authorities, NGOs, business groups and the general public.

The Minister added - “I have asked the Group to report to me before the autumn. The members of the Group possess the necessary skills and experience for the task. I wish the members well in their work and look forward to receiving the outcome of their deliberations on this wide and complex remit.”

The terms of reference of the Review Group are -

* To review the legislation governing the EPA - including the licensing functions and the processes in place to ensure public participation and the various remedies and sanctions available to the EPA for enforcement provided in the Acts - and to identify any necessary improvements in the legislation;
* To assess the performance of the EPA against the mandate which it was given when it was originally established in 1993, in relation to the expanding goals which have been set for it in the past decade and in comparison with best practice elsewhere - and to identify any necessary improvements in the EPA’s procedures and approaches;
* To assess the scope of the EPA’s mandate and whether it could be strengthened to include other areas;
* To review the resources allocated to the EPA in relation to current obligations and further functions that may arise, on foot of EU legislation;
* To assess the structures and governance of the EPA (including the operation of advisory committees and whether non-executive directors should be provided for) - and
* To re-assess the ongoing relationship between the EPA and other parts of the environmental governance structure in Ireland, having regard to the environmental challenges facing Ireland and developments in society.

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