The 2016 Annual Report sets out the major areas of activity and progress delivered across the sectors for which the Department is responsible. It provides a summary of the key outputs in 2016 along with highlights of the programmes under each of the high level objectives and strategies in the reconfigured Department’s Statement of Strategy 2016 to 2019.
Key Outputs in 2016 Environment
- The new regional waste enforcement structures, the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities (WERLAs), were consolidated during 2016. The WERLAs have responsibility for coordinating waste enforcement actions within their regions, and setting common objectives for waste enforcement. The work of the WERLAs is overseen by a National Steering Committee, which is chaired by the Department.
- Progress continued to be made in terms of Ireland becoming a recycling society. New criteria were developed for preparing for re-use of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) organisations to support the development of a vibrant re-use market in Ireland. The British Irish Council considered food waste and endorsed the need to take concrete steps towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target to halve per capita food waste by 2030.
- The Minister approved End of Life Vehicles Environmental Services (ELVES) CLG as the new compliance scheme with effect from 1 January 2017. ELVES CLG has been given responsibility for the establishment of a national collection system for End of Live Vehicles (ELV) and for the achievement of the targets set down in the ELV Directive.
- To enable and support the enforcement of environmental provisions relating to solvents, paints and coal products, a series of fixed payment notices were introduced for breaches of the provisions of the Air Pollution Act.
- The Department published a report prepared by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands (RIVM) on the current scientific knowledge on the possible effects of exposure to electro -magnetic fields. A report was also published, in November 2016 by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on the potential economic impact on Ireland of a nuclear accident.
- The Department organised a dedicated training event on AIE for public authority officials which was delivered to approximately 110 attendees from 41 public authorities in October 2016.
- Two public consultations were carried out in quarter four 2016 to complete National Implementation Reports for both the Aarhus Convention and the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Register. The National Implementation Reports were submitted to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Aarhus Convention Secretariat and are available on the Department website.
- The Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme (ALAGS) provides funding to local authorities to conduct public awareness and education initiatives at a local level in respect of both litter and graffiti. The Department allocated €690,000 in grants under ALAGS for 2016.
- The Local Environment Partnership Fund/Local Agenda 21 Scheme (LA21) supports environmental initiatives by communities, individuals and not-for-profit groups. The Department provided funding of €400,000 for the 2016 LA21 Scheme. Local authorities provide matching funding and private sources also make contributions. In 2016, when all three funding sources were combined, total funding leveraged through the LA21 Scheme amounted to in excess of €1.4 million and supported over 700 projects.
Key Outputs in 2016 Climate Action and Energy
- Ireland signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, the world’s first comprehensive, legally binding agreement on climate change, on 22 April and 4 November 2016 respectively. The approval of Paris Agreement by the European Union enabled its entry into force on 4 November 2016.
- The Climate Change Advisory Council, an independent statutory body established under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, was formally established in January 2016. The role of the Advisory Council is to provide advice and recommendations to Ministers and to the Government on the formulation of climate change mitigation and adaptation policy.
- The Minister delivered his first National Annual Transition Statement, required under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, to each House of the Oireachtas in December 2016.
- In anticipation of developing Ireland’s first statutory National Adaptation Framework, a public consultation on this process was carried out in March 2016 with a view to informing the ongoing development work on the framework.
- Local Authority Guidelines for developing climate adaptation strategies were published in May 2016. The purpose of these guidelines is to support local authorities in the development of a local climate change adaptation strategies with the aim of fostering coherence between strategies developed at local and national scale.
- The Department continued its engagement with International Climate Finance by making Ireland’s first contribution (€2 million) to the Green Climate Fund.
- The Energy Act 2016 was passed by the Oireachtas in July 2016. It includes provisions to enhance the powers of the Commission for Energy Regulation and to facilitate the delivery of new wholesale electricity market rules for the Single Electricity Market across the island of Ireland.
- €55 million in Government grant support was invested in the Better Energy Programme, supporting energy efficiency upgrades to more than 24,000 homes and 385 community and commercial buildings. This delivered energy savings of 182 GWh reduced CO2 emissions of 45 ktCO2 and lowered energy bills by €11.6 million in 2016.
- A new “Warmth & Wellbeing” pilot scheme was launched to provide deep energy efficiency upgrades to people suffering from acute respiratory conditions and living in poor quality homes.
- The first period of the Energy Efficiency Obligation Scheme (2014-2016) drew to a close with the energy industry having delivered energy savings of 1,868 GWh, comfortably exceeding the 1,650 GWh target. The savings delivered over this first phase of the scheme are equivalent to the energy consumption of approximately 100,000 homes.
- 350 MW approx. of renewable electricity capacity was installed during the year. A total of 174 million litres of sustainable biofuels were placed on the road transport fuel market and 638 new electric vehicles were grant aided in 2016.
- A new Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty was published which sets out how the Government will build on the achievements made to date in alleviating energy poverty.
- The Annual Report 2016 on Public Sector Energy Efficiency Performance showed that by the end of 2015, public sector bodies had reported energy efficiency improvements amounting to 21% – 2,442 GWh. This Department provided €1.9 million in support in 2016 to help public sector organisations build on this. In December 2016 Ireland’s first Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy was approved by the Government.
- €1.6 million in exchequer funding was provided to support businesses, large and small, who want to increase their energy efficiency.