Limerick Against Pollution (LAP) expect further public outrage at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) refusal to postpone Irish Cement’s oral hearing.
The “virtual” oral hearing set to take place on December 2nd is in relation to the Irish Cement/ CRH application for an emissions license to incinerate toxic waste at their facility in Mungret, Limerick.
According to LAP spokesperson, Claire Keating, the EPA are violating the Aarhus Convention, outlined in European Law, by denying citizens their right to open public participation.
Keating said: “We appealed to the agency to hold off on scheduling the oral hearing until it was safe to do so. We feel strongly that members of the public, understandably concerned for the health of their families, should be given the opportunity to attend and observe these proceedings in an open forum.”
“Our request was ignored. Now it appears that the EPA plan to hold the hearing online, pushing the process forward during lockdown and denying citizens the right to open public participation, guaranteed in European Law under the Aarhus Convention”.
One threat posed by the online hearing is accessibility issues for a number of members of the public, particularly the elderly.
“A significant part of our support group are senior citizens and many of them do not have the technological access to participate in a virtual event. Besides their failure to apply the precautionary principle, the EPA seem to be disqualifying the most vulnerable,” said Keating.
“In this entire process from the planning stage through to the granting of a licence, there has been a complete lack of transparency and public engagement and a flagrant dismissal of the citizen’s rights as enshrined in the Aarhus Convention”.
The Aarhus Convention was created to empower citizens and civil society organisations in environmental matters based on the principles of participative democracy.
The convention establishes a number of rights for individuals and civil-society organisations regarding their exposure to environmental degradation and risk. It guarantees:
- Access to environmental information: the right of the citizens to receive environmental information that is held by public authorities.
- Public participation in environmental decision making: the right of the citizens to participate in preparing plans, programmes, policies, and legislation that may affect the environment.
- Access to justice: the right of the citizenry to have access to review procedures when their rights with respect to access to information or public participation have been violated.
The parties to the Convention, including Ireland, must make all necessary provisions so that public authorities, at national, regional or local level, can contribute to effectively supporting these rights for all citizens.
Limerick Voice contacted the EPA for comment, but received no response.
Photo Credit: Claire Keating (LAP)