The proposals involve the introduction, on a pilot basis, of a procedure for the eco-auditing of policies in specific sectoral areas by Government Departments and in respect of national development plans. After one year, Departments will evaluate the results of pilot exercises with a view to wider use of eco-auditing.

Eco-auditing will apply to new or substantial modification of existing policies in the areas of:

  • agriculture,
  • energy,
  • transport,
  • industry,
  • tourism,
  • forestry,
  • marine, and
  • natural resources.

Legislative proposals, plans, programmes and policy statements in these areas will be eco-audited as will National Development Plans. However, eco-audit will not apply to the carrying out of physical projects as these are already governed by Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legislation.

Welcoming what he described as “a milestone decision”, Environment Minister Noel Dempsey stressed the importance of integrating environmental considerations into policy development as a “vital element in achievement of sustainable development”. Dempsey looks forward to the outcome of the pilot projects “which will provide the information necessary to facilitate the establishment of an appropriate and effective process for the eco-audit of all Government policies in due course”.

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