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Information on Air Quality

Air pollution is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Local Authorities. Pollutants in the air, many of which are invisible, create a variety of dangers for the environment and the health of residents and visitors

Air Pollution can be caused from many activities including:

Solvents Regulations

Important Information for Any Person Using Vehicle Spray Shops or Dry Cleaners

The use of certain types of industrial solvents is heavily regulated in the interests of minimising air pollution. It is an offence for anyone to undertake either activity without a valid Certificate of Compliance issued by a local authority.

Certificates are issued by Westmeath County Council and must be clearly displayed in a public area of the premises to which they apply.
 
On-the-Spot fines of up to €1,000 and Court fines of up to €5,000 apply for breaches of the legislation. If you are aware of a possible breach, please contact this Council in confidence at environment@westmeathcoco.ie.

The Background Legislation

European Directives transposed into Irish law, regulate operational procedures in businesses which use solvents or solvent-containing materials.

Such businesses are required to undergo an inspection by an Approved Assessor at regular intervals and to hold a Certificate of Compliance, issued for a fixed duration, by the relevant local authority.

Role of the Approved Assessor

The EPA maintains a panel of Approved Assessors at www.epa.ie/air/airenforcement/solvents

An installation operator may choose any member from the appropriate Approved Assessors Panel for inspection purposes and engage them directly to perform the assessment.

The Approved Assessor will review the activity and produce a report on the level of compliance with the regulations. This report will state if an installation is in general compliance or otherwise and if appropriate, will recommend that the relevant local authority issue a Certificate of Compliance.
 
The report will also record any incidences of major/minor non-compliances and any relevant observations vis-a-vis the requirements of the regulations. 

Certificate of Compliance

The Compliant Approved Assessor report must then be submitted to Westmeath County Council, together with the completed registration form (this will have been supplied to the applicant by the Approved Assessor with the report) and a fee of €50 in respect of renewals or €70 in respect of a new Certificate of Compliance (including cases where the previous one
had lapsed).

On the basis of this documentation, Westmeath County Council, as appropriate will make a decision on the issue of a Certificate of Compliance for an installation.

Failure to obtain a Certificate of Compliance may result in Westmeath County Council, as appropriate, instigating enforcement proceedings under the Air Pollution Act 1987. Westmeath County Council issue Certificates of Compliance which are valid for up to three years but this period may be reduced if concerns about a specific installation, such as for example, a failure to renew certificates on time.

Annual Self-Assessment Compliance Reports

These reports must be submitted annually, regardless of the validity duration of a Certificate of Compliance. Templates for such reports will be issued to Certificate holders in advance. Failure to submit such reports may delay the issue
of updated Certificates of Compliance.

Penalties and Enforcement

Local Authorities are now enabled to issue fixed penalty notices (“on-the-spot fines”) in respect of alleged breaches of these Regulations.

  • €1,000 for placing a product on the market where the volatile organic compound exceeds stipulated limits (“Deco Paints Regulations”).
  • €500 for placing a product on the market with deficient labelling (“Deco Paints Regulations”).
  • €500 for operating an installation without a current certificate of compliance where such a certificate is required (both sets of Regulations).

If the recipient does not pay the fine, then Westmeath County Council will prosecute him/her in the District Court. Where court proceedings have been instigated, the maximum fine for breaches of these Regulations is €5,000, or a term of imprisonment for up to six months, or both.

Listings of Current Holders of Certificates of Compliance

Please refer to the document links below. The Registers, as published on this website are updated regularly.

In the event of circumstances or contact details changing, the holder of a Certificate of Compliance should inform Westmeath County Council so as to ensure that this information is kept up to date.

 

Smoky Coal Ban

The burning of smoky coal has been linked with respiratory problems and premature deaths.  A ban on the burning of smoky coal and other prohibited fuels now applies in the designated smoky coal ban Low Smoke Zones (LSZs) of Athlone & Mullingar  (see maps below) .  The Minister announced on 6th December 2017 his intention to introduce a nationwide Low Smoke Zone. The ban on the sale of smoky coal in the existing zones, which has been in place in larger towns for some time, will be extended countrywide from Autumn of 2018. The Minister intends to allow coal distributors 12 months from then to sell off existing stocks before a total ban comes into effect in 2019.

Complaints regarding the marketing, sale, and distribution and burning of prohibited fuels or smoky emissions from the use of prohibited fuels in Low Smoke Zones (LSZs) should be reported to the environment office of Westmeath County Council at environment@westmeathcoco.ie or by phone to 044 9332166.

Authorised Officers from Environment may undertake inspections of premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel as well as collect samples.

  • A Local Authority may bring a prosecution under the Air Pollution Act for breaches of the Regulations.
  • The maximum fine amounts for breaches of the Regulations is € 5,000 on summary conviction.
  • Fixed payment notices (or ‘on the spot fines’) applied by the local authority are in operation for alleged offences relating to the marketing, sale and distribution of prohibited fuels in Low Smoke Zones (LSZs).

The Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012-2016 provides the legal basis for enforcement of these improvement.

Further information on Air Quality can be found in the following reports: