Overall the air quality in Ireland and Wicklow is good. The EPA monitors air quality at a number of locations around Ireland. Visit the EPA’s website at www.epa.ie where their sitemaps show monitoring locations and air quality status.
Wicklow County Council has responsibility for air quality and for air emissions for all industrial /commercial activities that are not subject to Integrated Pollution Control licensing by the EPA. Complaints of odour nuisance frequently have to be investigated. There are provisions in the Air Quality Act for serving enforcement notices requiring abatement of emissions causing nuisance.
Licensing discharges to Air
To ensure good air quality, Wicklow County Council licenses small businesses that emit polluting substances like nitrous oxides (Bitumen Plants), volatiles (Asphalt Plants) or solvents (dry cleaners or car body repair shops). The EPA licenses the larger industries.
Currently there are 4 air emission licences for asphalt plants in the county. The Solvents Directive (2000) has been transposed into Irish Law through the Organic Solvents Regulations 202 (S.I. no 543) and is currently implemented by Wicklow County Council. The main operations covered by the Regulations are car body shops and dry cleaners.
Smokeless Coal Ban
Wicklow County Council is also charged with implementing the smokeless coal regulations. There are five designated smoke free urban areas:
- Wicklow Town
Only smoke-free products can be sold in these areas and The Pollution Control Division carries out checks on suppliers to ensure compliance with the regulations. Air quality has vastly improved in these areas since the introduction of the ban with a significant reduction in smog and sulphur dioxide since the 1980s.
A programme of air quality monitoring has been carried out in Arklow, Bray and Greystones since the mid 1990’s for smoke and CO. The interpretation of monitored results in Arklow was complicated by interference from emissions from IFI Ltd. The results in Bray and Greystones have been consistently good and well within compliance with the Urban Air Quality Regulations.