The case concerned alleged breaches by Ireland of the Directive on pollution caused by dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environment (Directive 76/464/EEC).

It was alleged that Ireland had failed to take the necessary measures to ensure that the Directive was fully transposed into Irish law, having failed to comply with its obligations under the Directive, in particular Articles 7 and 9 of the Directive.

In two reasoned opinions issued to Ireland on 12 June 1997 and thereafter on 28 July 2000, Ireland was advised of its failure to finalise pollution reduction programmes as well as its failure to “prevent the emergence and worsening of widespread phosphorous pollution of fresh water”, and requested to take the necessary measures.

While Ireland notified the Commission of a number of measures, including a number of local bye-laws, which were intended to implement the Directive, the Commission was not satisfied by the responses received and therefore proceedings were brought before the court on 31 July 2002.

The ECJ held that Ireland had failed to comply with its obligations under Article 7 of the Directive, though dismissed the remainder of the action, in particular the arguments regarding Article 9 of the Directive.

In respect of Article 7(1) of the Directive, the Court looked at whether the Irish national legislation constituted “a series of co-ordinated, integrated and comprehensive measures”.

On expiry of the period granted by the reasoned opinion however, Ireland had not established pollution reduction programmes for all of the substances in respect of which it was required to do so.

In addition, those programmes which were adopted did not encompass all surface waters in the country, by excluding canals from the surface water objectives set out in the national regulations.

Ireland was also found to have failed to comply with Article 7(2) of the Directive as it had failed to establish a system of prior authorisation for discharges into water which may contain List II substances.

For details of the case see the link

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