Irish authorities urged to adopt eco-audit

Agency pushes for an environmental management system in every county within three years

Irish environment minister Noel Dempsey yesterday urged local authorities to "take fuller ownership of the environmental management approach" by adopting an environmental management system (EMS). The minister was speaking at a conference on EMS for local authorities at which results of a pilot project in Galway, Cork and Cavan county councils were outlined. The Irish environmental protection agency (EPA), which devised the EMS, is hoping to move to full implementation of the system in the three authorities over the next year, followed by about 15 in the following year and the remaining 15-or-so the year after. An EPA official told ENDS Daily that the push to get local authorities to use an EMS was a development of Ireland's existing policy of encouraging their use by industrial companies. Uniquely, Ireland requires adoption of an EMS as a condition for granting firms an integrated pollution control or waste licence (ENDS Daily 25 June 1998/a). The EMS developed for local government would provide a straightforward way for authorities to assess their legal responsibilities and to identify where corrective action was needed, the official said. It also included a self-auditing mechanism, and a structure for annual reporting. The agency saw the EMS as a "building block" towards longer-term take-up of the certified environmental management systems ISO 14001 and EMAS, he added.

Follow Up:
Irish environment ministry, tel: +353 1 888 2000; Irish EPA, tel: +353 53 60600.

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