Ryan 'ashamed' as number of pristine rivers in Ireland has fallen from 500 to 20

ireland
The EPA report found that the number of pristine rivers in Ireland has fallen from 500 to 20 in the space of 30 years.
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James Cox

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has said he is ashamed at the findings of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report which shows the number of pristine rivers in Ireland has fallen from 500 to 20 in 30 years.

This was just one of a number of a number of concerning findings in the report, which also revealed almost ninety per cent of our energy is generated from fossil fuels giving rise to greenhouse gases.

The Green Party leader said: “One of the projects we're going to do in terms of tackling climate change is for the first time ever to have a proper national land use plan. We need to look at the whole island, we need to do this with our colleagues up North.

“Pollution doesn't recognise borders.”

Findings in the EPA seventh State of the Environment Report include the following:

  • Almost ninety per cent of our energy is generated from fossil fuels giving rise to greenhouse gases.
  • Air quality in some urban areas doesn’t meet WHO standards.
  • Nature and habitats are being damaged (85 per cent of EU listed habitats are in unfavourable condition).
  • Wetland bird species, such as curlew, are under threat as a breeding species.
  • Raw sewage is being discharged to water from 35 towns and villages.
  • There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of Ireland’s most pristine rivers, which have fallen from over 500 sites to only 20 sites in 30 years.
  • Nutrient concentrations in rivers and nutrient inputs to the marine environment are increasing.
  • More than one million tonnes of food waste is generated each year in Ireland.
  • Littering remains a problem, resulting in thousands of complaints annually to local authorities.
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Eamon Ryan said he was 'ashamed' at the findings of the EPA report.

Laura Burke, EPA director general, said: “The overall quality of Ireland’s environment is not what it should be, and the outlook is not optimistic unless we accelerate the implementation of solutions across all sectors and society.”

Decade of action

She added: "Environmental issues and challenges such as climate change, air quality, water quality and biodiversity cannot be looked at in isolation, as they are complex, interconnected and need to be tackled in an integrated way.

"Now is the time for an overarching environmental policy position for Ireland — to be clear on our ambition to protect Ireland’s environment in the short, medium and long-term and on our commitment to live up to the image of a Clean Green Island.

"We need to see a decade of action in the 2020s. A policy position would provide a national vision that all government departments, agencies, businesses, communities and individuals can sign up to, to play their part in protecting our environment."

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