EPA’s Review of 2023 showcases work to address environmental challenges

In 2023 the EPA:

  • Carried out over 1,200 inspections of industrial and waste facilities, along with 205 urban waste water and 154 drinking water site inspections.
  • Obtained 19 convictions for environmental offences.
  • Monitored more than 2,500 waterbodies – with data showing no significant improvement in water quality – largely caused by high nutrient levels.
  • Provided real time data at 113 air quality monitoring stations– with particulate matter from solid fuel combustion and nitrogen dioxide from traffic causing poor air quality.
  • Launched new maps with up to 3 days forecast of Air Quality Index for Health.

In its 2023 Highlights the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showcases its work in addressing environmental challenges across Ireland.


Publishing the review, EPA Director General, Laura Burke said:


“2023 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the EPA’s establishment. While our remit has grown, the core of what we do remains the same – we regulate activities that have the potential for significant pollution. We produce timely, reliable, trustworthy data on Ireland’s environment. And we work with others to protect and preserve our environment.


EPA highlights of 2023 include:



Since its establishment 30 years ago, the EPA has assessed thousands of licence applications and each year performs more than a thousand inspections of licensed sites. While the majority have operated well and in accordance with their licence, a small number have not and in those cases the EPA has exercised its full range of enforcement powers, with 19 convictions in 2023 alone. In 2023, the EPA also launched LEAP online, enabling the public to access licence, inspection, and licensee information like never before.



The EPA provides independent scientific evidence to inform decision making. On water quality, the EPA has monitored Ireland’s rivers, lakes and estuaries for decades, with our latest data showing no significant improvement nationally in the biological quality of rivers and lakes, which is largely attributable to excess nitrogen and phosphorous.


New forecast maps launched in 2023 predict air quality for up to three days ahead, using real-time data from 113 ambient air quality monitoring stations nationwide. While air quality in Ireland is generally good, there are concerning localised issues from particulate matter due to burning solid fuel, and nitrogen dioxide from traffic.


Waste generation continues to rise, and recycling rates are not keeping pace. Ireland remains overly reliant on unpredictable export markets for significant quantities of waste sent abroad.


EPA research shows the Irish public overwhelmingly believe climate change is already affecting Ireland, and they support climate action. While our data shows a small reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2022, emissions aren’t declining fast enough to meet Ireland’s commitments for 2030 and beyond.



Working with others

In 2023 the EPA partnered with a range of organisations to support the protection of Ireland’s environment. Collaborations with An Taisce and the city councils of Cork and Galway helped grow citizen science initiatives aiming to improve air quality. And coinciding with its 30th anniversary, the EPA kicked off a novel partnership with the National Library of Ireland to creatively document Ireland’s environment.


Concluding, Ms Burke said:

“Three decades on from its establishment, the EPA’s role to protect, improve and restore Ireland’s environment, through regulation, scientific knowledge and working with others, is more relevant than ever.”


Further information is available in the EPA’s Review 2023.

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