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Environment: Law for a healthy planet

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WATER POLLUTION

 This text examines the legislation concerning water pollution in Ireland.

Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977

Introduction to the Act

The Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977 (the Act) provides for the prevention of water pollution in Ireland.

Offence to cause or permit polluting matter to enter waters Section 3(1) makes it an offence for a person to cause or permit any polluting matter to enter waters.

Definition of ‘polluting matter’

‘Polluting matter’ is defined in s 1 of the Act as including:

Any poisonous or noxious matter, and any substance (including any explosive, liquid or gas), the entry or discharge of which into any waters is liable to render those or any other waters poisonous or injurious to fish, spawning grounds or the food of any fish, or to injure fish in their value as human food, or to impair the usefulness of the bed and soil of any waters as spawning grounds or their capacity to produce the food of fish or to render such waters harmful or detrimental to public health or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural or recreational uses.

Definition of ‘waters’

Section 1 of the Act also provides the definition of ‘waters’, which are defined as including:

(a) Any (or any part of any) river, stream, lake, canal, reservoir, aquifer, pond, watercourse or other inland waters, whether natural or artificial,

(b) Any tidal waters, and

(c) Where the context permits, any beach, river bank and salt marsh or another area which is contiguous to anything mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b), and the channel or bed of anything mentioned in paragraph (a) which is for the time being dry, but does not include a sewer.

Definition of ‘sewer’

‘Sewer’ is defined in s 1 of the Act, as substituted by s 2 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act 1990 (the 1990 Act), as being: a sewer within the meaning of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Acts, 1878 to 1964, that is vested in or controlled by a sanitary authority and includes a sewage treatment works, and a sewage disposal works, that is vested in or controlled by a sanitary authority.

Definition of ‘aquifer’

‘Aquifer’ is defined in s 1 of the Act, as substituted by s 2 of the 1990 Act, as being: any stratum or combination of strata that stores or transmits groundwater.

Defence to a charge of committing an offence under s 3(1)

Section 3(3), as substituted by s 3(1)(a) of the 1990 Act, provides, however, that it is a good defence to a charge of committing an offence under s 3(1) of the Act for the accused to prove that he took all reasonable care to prevent the entry of any polluting matter into any waters to which the charge relates to providing, maintaining, using, operating and supervising facilities, or by employing practices or methods of operation that were suitable for the purpose of such prevention.

Prosecution for an offence under s 3(1) of the Act

Section 27(b) of the 1990 Act (which replaces s 3(4) of the Act) provides that a prosecution for a summary offence under s 3(1) of the Act may be brought by a local authority, or regional board, in or adjoining whose area any of the waters concerned are situated or any other person affected.

Discharges which are not in breach of s 3(1) of the Act

Section 3(5) of the Act, as substituted by s 3(1)(b) of the 1990 Act provides that certain discharges which are controlled by other provisions of the Act or by other enactments are not offences within s 3(1) of the Act.

These discharges include, inter alia, discharges of trade effluent or sewage effluent made under and in accordance with a licence granted under s 4 of the Act or in accordance with any applicable regulations, the entry of any matter from vessels to tidal waters or discharges authorised by the Foreshore Act 1933, the Harbours Act 1946 or the Fisheries Acts 1959 to 1997.

Offence to discharge effluent to waters without a licence

Section 4(1) of the Act controls the discharge of any trade effluent or sewage effluent. It provides that a person shall not discharge, or cause or permit the discharge of, any trade effluent or sewage effluent to any waters except under and in accordance with a licence granted, in the case of a discharge to waters, by the local authority of the area in which the waters into which the effluent is discharged are located, or, in any other case, by the local authority in whose area any premises, works, apparatus, plant or drainage pipe from which the effluent is discharged are situated. According to s 4(2), s 4(1) does not apply to discharges to tidal waters from vessels or marine structures, or to discharges from a sewer, or discharges exempted by regulations made under s 4(10) of the Act.

Local authority may grant a licence

Section 4(3) of the Act provides that a local authority may grant or refuse to grant a licence under s 4, or may grant it subject to conditions. In deciding whether or not to grant a licence the local authority must have regard to the objectives contained in any relevant water quality management plan made under s 15 of the Act.

Compliance with water quality standards

By virtue of s 4(4) of the Act, a local authority must not grant a licence in respect of the discharge of an effluent which would not comply with, or would result in the waters to which the discharge is made not complying with, any relevant water quality standard prescribed under s 26 of the of the Act.

Types of conditions which may be attached to a licence

Section 4(5) of the Act lists the types of conditions which may be attached to a licence. The conditions may deal with such matters as the nature, composition, rate, volume, method of treatment and location of a discharge, the periods during which a discharge may or may not be made, the provision and maintenance of meters, gauges and other apparatus, the keeping of records of discharges and the prevention of a discharge in the event of breakdown in plant. A local authority may also attach a condition requiring the payment of a charge or charges to the local authority.

Lapse of a licence granted under s 4(1) of the Act

If a licence has been granted under s 4(1) for a certain type of discharge but no such discharge has been made or has ceased, for three years, s 4(7) provides that the licence shall cease to have an effect.

 Prosecution for an offence under s 4(1) of the Act

Section 4(9), which listed the parties permitted to bring a prosecution for a na offence under s 4 of the Act, was repealed by s 30 of the 1990 Act. In its place, s 27(b) of the 1990 Act provides that a prosecution for a summary offence under 4 of the Act may be brought by a local authority, or regional board, in whose area or adjoining whose area any of the waters concerned are situated, or any other person affected.

Defence to a prosecution for an offence under other enactments

Section 4(11) of the Act states that it shall be a good defence to a prosecution for an offence under any other enactment that the act constituting the alleged offence is authorised by a licence under s 4 of the Act.

Section 4(12) provides that the fact that a person has a licence under s 4 does not mean that he is entitled to discharge trade effluent or sewage effluent to waters solely by reason of such licence without regard to such obligations which he may have to others.

Licensing of existing discharges

Section 5 of the Act deals with the licensing of existing discharges of trade effluent or sewage effluent which were being made before, and continued to be made after, the Act came into force. It provides that once a licence application is made for an existing discharge before a date to be prescribed by regulations and any information required by any regulations in relation to a licence is furnished, the applicant may continue to make discharges without being in breach of s 4(1) until such time as the local authority grants or refuses a licence.

Review of licences granted under s 4(1) of the Act

Section 7(1) of the Act provides that licences issued under s 4(1) may be reviewed by a local authority at intervals of not less than three years from the date of granting of the licence, or the date of its last review, or at any time with the consent of the person making, causing or permitting the discharge.

Sections 7(2) and 7(3) of the Act have been amended by s 5 of the 1990 Act which substitutes new s 7(2) and (3) into the Act and inserts a new s 7(2A) into the Act. Section 7(2), as substituted, provides that, notwithstanding any other provision of the Act or any condition in a licence, the licence may be reviewed at any time by the local authority that granted it if any of the followings occurs:

(a) The local authority has reasonable grounds for believing that the discharge authorised by the licence is, or is likely to be, injurious to public health or renders, or is likely to render, the waters concerned unfit for use for domestic, commercial, industrial, fishery (including fish-farming), agricultural or recreational uses;

(b) There has been a material change in relation to the nature or volume of the discharge;

(c) There has been a material change in relation to the waters to which the discharge is made;

(d) Further information has become available since the date of granting of the licence relating to polluting matter present in the discharge concerned, or relating to the effects of such matter; or

(e) The licensee applies to the local authority concerned to review the licence.

Local authority action following a review of a licence

Section 7(3) of the Act, as substituted, provides that on completion of a review under s 7, a local authority may amend or delete any condition of the licence or may attach conditions or further conditions to it or may revoke it. Where it proposes to exercise any of these powers it must do so as soon as may be after the completion of the relevant review.

Appeals

A new s 8 of the Act has been substituted by s 6(1) of the 1990 Act. Section 8(1)(a), as substituted, gives any person a right of appeal to A Bord Pleanála in relation to the grant, refusal to grant or revocation of a licence by a local authority under s 4. An appeal may also be made in relation to the attachment of conditions or additional conditions to such a licence or the amendment or deletion of any such condition. An appeal under s 8(1) must be made before the expiration of such period as may be prescribed by regulations.

Date of effectiveness of a local authority’s decision

Section 8(1)(b) of the Act provides that a decision of a local authority in relation to the grant, refusal to grant, or revocation of a licence, or in relation to the conditions attached to such a licence, shall have effect, where no appeal is brought against it, on the expiration of the period prescribed by regulations.

If an appeal is brought against such a decision and the decision is not set aside by the final determination of the appeal, the decision will have effect in accordance with such final determination. Where an appeal is brought against such a decision but is withdrawn before the final determination of the appeal, the decision shall have effect on such withdrawal if the period prescribed by regulations has expired. If the period has not expired, the decision shall have an effect on its expiry.

Decision of A Bord Pleanála

Section 8(2) of the Act provides that A Bord Pleanála, after consideration of an appeal under s 8, shall (as it thinks proper) allow or refuse an appeal and may give any direction that it considers appropriate to the local authority concerned. This may include a direction that a specified condition is attached to the licence concerned or be amended or deleted. The alocal authority must comply with any such direction.

 Registers of licences and abstractions

Section 9 of the Act obliges a local authority to establish and keep a register of all licences granted by it under s 4 and also to keep a register of abstractions from waters in its area. Each sanitary authority must also keep a register of all licences granted by it under s 16 of the Act. All registers must be kept at the offices of the local authority or sanitary authority and must be open to inspection by any person at all reasonable times. Any person is also entitled to obtain a copy of any entry in a register on payment of a prescribed fee.

 Court order to terminate discharge, remedy effects and pay costs

Section 7 of the 1990 Act has substituted a new s 10 of the Act. Under s 10(1), as substituted, where, on the application of any person to the appropriate court, whether or not that person has an interest in the waters concerned, that court is satisfied that another person either:

(a) Is causing or permitting, or has caused or permitted, polluting matter to enter waters and the entry is or was not one to which s 3(5) applies and is or was not authorised by a licence under s 171 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 (the Fisheries Act 1959); or

(b) Is discharging or causing or permitting to be discharged, or has discharged or caused or permitted to be discharged, trade effluent or sewage effluent to waters and the discharge is or was not one to which s 4(2) of the Act applies and is or was not one authorised by a licence under that s or s 171 of the Fisheries Act 1959, the court may order that other person to do any one or more of the following:

• To terminate the entry or discharge within a specified period; or

• To mitigate or remedy any effects of the entry or discharge in such manner and within such period as may be specified; or

• To pay to the applicant or other specified person a specified amount to defray all or part of the costs incurred by the applicant or such specified person in investigating, mitigating or remedying the effects of the entry or discharge concerned.

Application for an order under s 10(1) of the Act

An application under s 10(1) of the Act, as substituted, may, in any case, be made to the High Court. If the estimated cost of complying with the order to which the application relates comes within the jurisdiction of the District Court or Circuit Court it may, alternatively, be made to the relevant court. If such an application is made and during the hearing of the action the court is of the opinion that the estimated cost will exceed the jurisdiction of the court, it may, if it thinks fit, transfer the application to the appropriate court. An application under s 10(1) of the Act shall be brought in a summary manner and a court may, if it thinks fit, make such interim or interlocutory order as it considers appropriate.

Offence not to comply with an order made under s 10(1) of the Act

If a person does not comply with an order made under s 10(1), he shall be guilty of an offence under s 10(2).

 Defendant must be heard by the court before an order is made Section 10(3) of the Act, as substituted, provides that an order shall not be made by a court under s 10(1) unless the person named in the order has been given an opportunity of being heard by the court in proceedings relating to an application for the order.

Local authority may take action specified in order and recover costs

Section 10(4) of the Act, as substituted, gives the local authority, or the regional board, in whose area the waters concerned are situated, the power, where a person does not comply with an order under s 10(1), to take any steps specified in the order to remedy or mitigate the effects of the entry or discharge. The costs of taking such steps shall be recoverable by the local authority or regional board, as the case may be, from the person in respect of whom the order was made as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Local authority may serve a notice requiring cessation of discharge

Section 10(5) of the Act as substituted, empowers a local authority to require, by notice in writing, the cessation of the entry or discharge of polluting matter, or trade or sewage effluent, to waters. Such a notice may be served on a person who is causing or permitting the entry of polluting matter, or trade or sewage effluent, to waters where s 3(5) or s 4(2) of the Act does not apply to such entry or discharge and the entry or discharge is not under and in accordance with a licence under s 171 of the Fisheries Act 1959.

Contents of a notice served under s 10(5) of the Act According to s 10(5) of the Act, as substituted, the notice shall require the cesser of the entry or discharge within such period as may be specified in the notice and shall require the mitigation or remedy of any effects of the entry or discharge within such period and in such manner as may be specified.

If the notice is not complied with within the specified period, s 10(6), as substituted, provides that the local authority may carry out the works itself and recover the cost from the person on whom the notice was served as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction of courts in making an order under s 10(1) of the Act Section 10(7) of the Act, as substituted, deals with the jurisdiction of the District Court or Circuit Court in relation to the making of orders under s 10(1). Where an order is sought under s 10(1), as substituted, an application must be made to the judge of the District Court or Circuit Court, as the case may be, for the district or circuit in which the waters concerned, or the land or other premises from which the entry or discharge concerned takes place, are situated.

Action which may be specified in a notice served under s 10(5) of the Act Section 10(8) of the Act, as substituted, specifies the steps which an order made, or notice served, under s 10(1) or s 10(5), as substituted, may require to be taken.

These include the replacement of fish stocks, the restoration of spawning grounds, the removal of polluting matter from waters and the treatment of affected waters so as to mitigate or remedy the effects of the entry or discharge concerned.

Notice may be served without prosecution under s 3 or s 4 of the Act

By virtue of s 10(9), as substituted, an application may be made under s 10(1), as substituted, and a notice may be served under s 10(5) whether or not there has been a prosecution under s 3 or s 4.

Application for an order of the High Court under s 11(1) of the Act

The High Court may make an order under s 11 if it is satisfied that:

(a) Polluting matter is being, has been or is likely to be caused or permitted to enter waters and the entry is not one to which s 3(5)178 of the Act applies or would apply and is not under and in accordance with a licence under s 171 of the Fisheries Act 1959;

 (b) Trade or sewage effluent is being, has been, or is likely to be, discharged or caused or permitted to be discharged to waters and the discharge is not one to which s 4(2)180 of the Act applies or would apply and is not under and in accordance with a licence under that section or s 171 of the Fisheries Act 1959; or

(c) The polluting matter has escaped, is escaping or is likely to escape accidentally from premises to waters.

Such an order may:

(a) Prohibit any person from causing or permitting, or continuing to cause or permit, the entry of polluting matter, or the discharge of trade or sewage effluent, to the waters;

(b) Require the carrying out of specified measures by any person having the custody or control of polluting matter or trade or sewage effluent to prevent any such entry or discharge, or its continuance or recurrence, or refrain from or cease doing any specified act or making any specified omission;

(c) For the purposes of preventing the escape of polluting matter from premises, require the carrying out by the occupier of any such premises of specified measures or to do, refrain from, or cease doing any specified act or making any specified omission.

Application may be made in the absence of a prosecution under s 3 or s 4 of the Act

Section 11(1A) of the Act provides that an application may be brought under s 11(1) Notwithstanding that a prosecution under s 3 or s 4 in respect of the relevant entry or discharge has not been brought.

Notice served on person having custody or control of polluting matter

Under s 12(1) of the Act, a local authority may serve a notice in writing to any person having the custody or control of any polluting matter on premises in its area, where it appears that it is necessary to do so in order to prevent or control pollution of waters.

Section 12 (2) states that the notice shall:

(a) Specify the measures which appear to the local authority to be necessary to prevent such matter from entering waters; and

(b) direct the person on whom the notice is served to take the measures specified

in the notice within a stated period.

Section 9 of the 1990 Act inserts an additional s 12(2A) into the Act. The new s 12(2A) provides that a notice under s 12(1) of the Act may, either in addition to or in lieu of, complying with s 12(2) of the Act:

(a) Regulate or restrict in such manner and for such period as may be specified in the notice the carrying on of any activity, practice or use of premises that, in the opinion of the local authority concerned, could result in the entry of polluting matter to waters; and

(b) Require the provision, re-location or alteration of facilities for the collection or storage of polluting matter.

Person served may make written representations to the local authority

Section 9 of the 1990 Act also substitutes a new s 12(3) into the Act. This provides that a person on whom a notice under s 12(1) of the Act is served may make representations in writing to the local authority regarding the terms of the notice within such period as may be specified in the notice and the local authority may, after consideration of any representations, confirm, amend or revoke the notice and shall inform the person in question of its decision.

Power of local authority to take action to prevent and abate pollution

A new s 13 of the Act has been substituted by s 10 of the 1990 Act. Section 13(1), as substituted, gives a local authority or a sanitary authority power to prevent and abate pollution. The local authority or sanitary authority may take such measures as it considers necessary for the purpose of:

(a) Preventing the entry of polluting matter to any waters, or to any drain or sewer provided solely for the reception or disposal of storm water in its area;

(b) Removing polluting matter from any such waters, drain or sewer;

(c) Preventing polluting matter in waters outside its area from affecting such area or any seashore (within the meaning of the Foreshore Act 1933) adjoining such area; or

(d) mitigating or remedying in relation to its area or any such seashore the effects of any polluting matter in any such waters, drain or sewer.

Measures which may be taken under s 13(1) of the Act

The measures taken by a local authority or sanitary authority under s 13(1) may include the giving of assistance, whether financial or otherwise and the procuring of the taking of measures by others. The local authority or sanitary authority may also dispose of any such polluting matter in such manner as it thinks fit.

Recovery of costs by a local authority or sanitary authority

Section 13(2) of the Act, as amended, states that where any measures taken by a local authority or a sanitary authority under s 13(1) were necessitated by the acts or omissions of a person which that person ought reasonably to have foreseen would or might necessitate the taking of the measures by the relevant authority, the authority may recover the expenditure incurred in taking such measures from the person as a simple contract debt.

Notification of an accidental discharge

Under s 14, notification of any accidental discharge, spillage or deposit of any polluting matter which enters, or is likely to enter, any waters or a sewer must be made as soon as practicable after the occurrence of the discharge, spillage or deposit by the person responsible to the local authority in whose area the discharge, spillage or deposit occurs or, in the case of a sewer, to the sanitary authority in which the sewer is vested or by which it is controlled. It is a na offence to fail to make such notification.

Licence to discharge trade effluent or other matter to a sewer

Section 16(1) of the Act provides that a person, other than a sanitary authority, shall not discharge or cause or permit the discharge of any trade effluent or other matter (other than domestic sewage or storm water) to a sewer, except under and in accordance with a licence granted by the sanitary authority in which the sewer is vested or by which it is controlled.

 Procedure for granting and reviewing a licence granted under s 16(1) of the Act

The provisions governing the granting, reviewing and duration of a licence granted under s 16(1) are broadly similar to those under s 4(1). However, the procedure laid down by regulations to be followed by an applicant for a licence under s 16(1) and by the sanitary authority in considering such an application contains a number of differences from that laid down in respect of a licence under s 4(1). Among the most relevant of these differences are the following:

(a) An applicant for a licence under s 4(1) must publish notice of his intention to apply for a licence in a newspaper circulating in the local authority’s area;

(b) The application for a licence under s 4(1) and all relevant plans and other particulars submitted by the applicant to the local authority must be made available for public inspection at the local authority’s offices but no provision is made for public inspection of materials relating to an application pursuant to s 16(1) of the Act;

(c) Only the applicant, the occupier of premises for which a discharge to which a licence under s 16(1) relates and the sanitary authority which granted, refused or reviewed such a licence may appeal a decision on the licence, whereas any person may appeal against a decision by a local authority relating to a licence granted pursuant to s 4(1) of the Act.

Power of a sanitary authority to grant a licence under s 16(1) of the Act

Section 16(2) of the Act gives a sanitary authority power to refuse to grant a licence under s 16(1) of the Act or to grant such a licence subject to specified conditions. In considering whether or not to grant a licence, a sanitary authority is obliged to consider the objectives stated in any relevant water quality management plan made under s 15 of the Act. In addition, s 16(3) prohibits the granting of a licence in respect of the discharge of a trade effluent which would not comply with any water quality standards made under s 26(1) of the Act.

Conditions attached to a licence under s 16(1) of the Act

Section 16(4)(a) provides that any conditions attached to a licence granted under s 16(1) may relate (but are not limited) to such matters as the nature, composition, temperature, volume, method of treatment and location of a discharge and the times during which a discharge may or may not be made. Conditions may also provide for the provision and maintenance of meters, gauges and other apparatus and require the taking of samples and the keeping of records. The update may also be specified by which conditions must be complied with.

A new s 16(4)(b) has been substituted by s 12 of the 1990 Act. This gives the sanitary authority power to attach a condition to a licence requiring the licence holder to pay the sanitary authority such amount as may be specified by it, having regard to expenditure incurred by it in monitoring, treating and disposing of discharges to sewers in its area.

Section 16(5) provides that any condition attached to a licence granted under s 16(1) of the Act shall be binding on any person discharging, or causing or permitting the discharge of, trade effluent or other matter to which the licence relates.

Lapse of a licence granted under s 16(1) of the Act

If after three years from the date on which such a licence is granted no discharge of the type authorised by that licence has been made, or where such a discharge has ceased for a period of three years, s 16(6) of the Act stipulates that the licence shall cease to have an effect.

Offence to discharge to a drain or sewer provided for storm water

Section 16(7) of the Act makes it an offence for a person to permit or cause the entry of any polluting matter (including sewage) to any drain or sewer provided solely for the reception or disposal of storm water.

Prosecution of offences under s 16 of the Act

Section 16(9), which provided for the prosecution of offences under s 16 by any sanitary authority, has been repealed by s 30 of the 1990 Act and, in its place, s 27(b) of the 1990 Act now provides that a summary offence under s 16 of the Act may only be prosecuted by the sanitary authority in which the sewer concerned is vested, or by which it is controlled, or in whose area it is situated.

Defence to a prosecution under other enactments

According to s 16(11) of the Act, it shall be a good defence to a prosecution under any other enactment that the act constituting the alleged offence is authorised by a licence under s 16.

However, s 16(12) provides that a person shall not be entitled solely by reason of a licence under s 16 to make, cause or permit a discharge to a sewer.

 Local authority power to require cessation of discharge in breach of s 16 of the Act

A sanitary authority is given power by s 16(13) to serve a notice in writing to any person making, causing or permitting a discharge or entry in breach of s 16(1) or 16(7), requiring the cessation of the breach within such period as may be specified in the notice. The notice may also require the mitigation or remedy of any effects of the breach within a specified period and may specify the actual steps to be taken.

 Offence not to comply with a notice served under s 16(13) of the Act

Section 16(13) has been strengthened by the insertion by s 12(b) of the 1990 Act of a news 16(13A) into the Act. Section 16(13A), as inserted, makes it an offence not to comply with a notice served under s 16(13).

Sanitary authority may take steps specified in the notice

In addition, where a person does not comply with a notice served under s 16(13) of the Act within the period specified in the notice, s 16(14) provides that the sanitary authority which served the notice may take any steps it considers necessary to prevent the discharge or entry or to mitigate or remedy any effects of the breach. It may recover the cost of such steps from the person on whom the notice is served as a simple contract debt in a court of competent jurisdiction on proving to the satisfaction of the court that that person is responsible for the breach.

Review of a licence granted under s 16 of the Act

Section 17, as amended by s 13 of the 1990 Act, deals with the power and, in certain cases, the obligation of a sanitary authority to review a licence granted by it under s 16(1).

The circumstances in which the sanitary authority may, and those in which it must, review a licence granted under s 16 are in terms identical to those specified in s 7 of the Act, as amended by s 5 of the 1990 Act, relating to licences granted under s 4(1) of the Act.

 Offence to make a false or misleading statement

Section 19(3)(a) of the Act, as amended by s 24(2) of the 1990 Act, provides that a person who, on application for a licence under s 16, or on appeal under s 20, makes a statement in writing which is false or to his knowledge misleading in a material respect shall be guilty of an offence. In addition, any licence issued to that person as a result of the application or appeal in relation to which the information was furnished shall stand revoked from the date of the conviction.

Appeals relating to a licence granted under s 16 of the Act

A news 20 of the Act has been substituted by s 15(1) of the 1990 Act. The news 20(1)(a), as substituted, now provides that the occupier of premises from which a discharge is made which requires a licence under s 16 may appeal to the Planning Board, within such period as may be prescribed by regulations, against the decision of the sanitary authority to revoke the licence, attach conditions to the licence, or amend or delete any such conditions. Section 20(1), as substituted, gives a person whose application for a licence under s 16(1) has been refused by a sanitary authority a right of appeal to Na Bord Pleanála within such period as may be prescribed by regulations.

Decision of A Bord Pleanála

Section 20(2) of the Act, as substituted, provides that the Planning Board, after consideration of an appeal, shall allow or refuse the appeal and may give a direction to the sanitary authority concerned, which must be complied with by that sanitary authority. Any such direction may require that a specified condition is attached to the licence concerned or be amended or deleted.

 Monitoring of waters and discharges

Under s 22(1) of the Act a local authority or sanitary authority must carry out, or cause to be carried out, such monitoring of waters and discharges of trade effluents and sewage effluents and other matter to waters or to sewers, as the case may be, as it considers necessary for the performance of any of its functions under the Act.

It also may collect, or cause to be collected, such information as it considers necessary for the performance of any of its functions under the Act. Section 22(2) gives a local authority or a sanitary authority the power to provide meters, manholes or inspection chambers, or any other apparatus for any of these purposes.

Notice requiring information about activities or practices

Section 23(1) of the Act, as substituted by s 17 of the 1990 Act, provides that a local authority may serve a notice in writing on certain persons requiring them to give to the local authority in writing, within a specified period of not less than 14 days beginning on the date of the giving or serving of the notice, such details as may be so specified in relation to any such activities or practices and such other information (if any) as it may consider necessary for the purposes of these functions.

The persons on whom such a notice may be served are persons who:

(a) Are abstracting water from any waters in the area of the local authority;

(b) Are discharging, or causing or permitting the discharge of, trade effluent or sewage effluent or other matter to such waters;

(c) have custody or control of any polluting matter in the local authority’s area;

or

(d) are engaged in activities or practices that, in the opinion of the local authority, may cause or permit polluting matter to enter waters.

Notice requiring information about discharges

A similar power is given by s 23(2) of the Act, as substituted by s 17 of the 1990 Act, to a sanitary authority, for the purpose of its functions under the Act, to require a person by notice in writing who is making, causing or permitting a discharge to a sewer to provide such details of the discharge as may be specified in the notice, and any other relevant information, within a specified period of not less than 14 days beginning on the date of the giving or serving of the notice. Section 23(3), which was also substituted by s 17 of the 1990 Act, provides that a notice served under s 23(1) or s 23(2), as substituted, may require maps, plans, drawings or photographs showing the location, nature and extent and condition of:

(a) Any facilities for the collection, treatment or disposal of the effluent or other polluting matter;

(b) Any other premises from which polluting matter may enter waters;

(c) Any sewer, and showing the relationship of those evidential exhibits to any waters.

Details may also be requested of the systems, methods and arrangements in use or proposed for the disposal of the effluent or other polluting matter and of the times and rates at which such disposal is effected.

 Offence to fail to give information or to give misleading information

Section 23(4) of the Act, as substituted by s 17 of the 1990 Act, provides that it is an offence to fail or refuse to comply with such a notice or to give information which, to the knowledge of the person giving it, is false or misleading in a material respect.

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