EC warns four member states for delays in responding to environmental complaints

The European Commission has begun enforcement action against Ireland, Italy, France and Spain over their alleged delay in providing EC officials with environmental information. The EC says that Ireland has a particularly poor track record in replying promptly to EC correspondence on environmental complaints.

“In order to efficiently process environmental complaints, the Commission

needs to have prompt Member State answers to its letters. It is therefore

very disappointed to have to resort to legal action just to obtain answers,”

commented EC Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström.

First warnings were sent last November to Ireland, Italy and France and this

time around Spain has been added to the list. The EC states that “in

general, Spain, Italy and France answer Commission requests on time”, but it

admits that “in the case of Ireland, despite some recent improvements,

delays in answering are a more regular feature”.

The EC has spelled out the nature of the complaints which still await

replies from the four member states.


In the case of Ireland, the EC is waiting for details regarding the


  • pig farm developments in County Kilkenny (Environmental Impact

    Assessment Directive and the Dangerous Substances Directive)

  • declines in water quality of Lough Gill, County Sligo (Dangerous

    Substances Directive)

  • failure to designate a tributary of the River Liffey and the alleged

    impacts of a quarry at Brittas, County Kildare (Environmental Impact

    Assessment Directive and Freshwater Fish Directive)

  • alleged operation of a waste facility without a waste permit at

    Cullinagh, Fermoy in County Cork and alleged pollution of water by chlorine

    and hydrocarbons as a result (Framework Waste Directive and the Groundwater Directive)


France has failed to reply to EC letters regarding two situations. The first

involves an alleged failure to remove wastes properly from Ales at a site

where a car racing track is planned (Framework Waste Directive, Groundwater

Directive and Dangerous Substances Directive). The second complaint awaiting

a reply from French authorities involves mineral extraction in the Grounde

Estuary and canalisation of the River Garonne. Both sites are habitats for

an endangered species – the Sturgeon (Habitats Directive and the

Environmental Impact Directive).


The EC has warned Spain over its failure to provide information in response

to three complaints. They are:

  • alleged failure to protect salmon along a section of the River Mino

    where the Frieira hydro-electric plant is situated (Freshwater Fish


  • alleged failure to undertake an environmental impact assessment for the

    enlargement of a road, despite the fact that the road crosses an important

    wild bird conservation area known as the Petrola-Almansa-Yecla

    (Enviornmental Impact Assessment Directive)

  • complaint that canalisation works within the Albufera special protection

    area in the province of Valencia may have infringed on the Wild Birds and

    Habitats Directives

Meanwhile, Italy’s seven outstanding replies primarily involve complaints

about alleged infringements of environmental legislation from improper waste

management, landfill site operation and waste incineration plant operation

in several locations including areas around Naples, Milan and Siena.

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