Sustainable Economic Development
(see pg 160-164 of economic book)
Sustainable Development means meeting our present needs without interfering with
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and using the resources of
the earth that respects the rights of all of its inhabitants.
EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is Ireland’s independent public body
which was set up in 1992 to help safeguard our environment.
One of the main functions of the EPA is to license and control large-scale
activities that might significantly damage the environment. Any company
involved in manufacturing, waste disposal and other such operations must apply
to the EPA for a pollution control licence. The licence lays down the pollution
limits within which the company must operate. The company is required to
regularly report its pollution emissions to the EPA. If the EPA find that
companies have broken their licence agreement and have released more
pollutants than permitted, they are then fined and must make changes to reduce
The EPA also produces regular environmental reports, which inform the public
and advise local authorities on the extent to which economic activities impact on
air quality, water purity and other aspects of the environment.
EIAs: Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are a means of identifying possible
environmental damage by large developments, such as those relating to roads, factories
or mines. An EIA is required whenever a large development is being proposed. Each
Environmental Impact Assessment:
Is commissioned and paid for by the developer
Is carried out by independent experts
Presents its findings in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The EIS evaluates the benefits and the possible negative environmental impacts
of the project, for example on landscape, plants, animals, water and heritage.
The EIS may be debated at a public hearing before the local county council or
An Bord Pleanála (in the case of a planning appeal) decides whether or not to
grant permission for the development.
Case Study: Sustainable Economic Development of Irish Fish Stocks
The waters around Ireland contain some of the most important spawning and nursery
areas for commercial fish stocks in the North-East Atlantic. These include major
spawning areas for mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting, hake and very important
nursery areas for haddock off the south and west coast of Ireland. There is serious
concern that our waters around Ireland are being overfished and if fish resources are
to be used sustainably they must be managed very carefully.
Sustainable Management Plans for Irish fish stocks:
1. A conservation area has been set up.
As a result of surveys of fish species in Irish waters, the EU has
established a special conservation area around the south and west
coasts of Ireland called the Irish Conservation Box. In this area
different rules apply to fishing boats in order to protect young
fish from being overfished. Fishing by certain vessels and vessel
types is restricted in this area. Vessels over 10 metres long are
required to report their catch and movements to the Irish
Fisheries patrol. The Irish Naval Service is tasked with enforcing
the special protection measures.
2. Recovery plans and emergency measures have been set up
As a result of over-fishing, special recovery plans and emergency measures have been
put in place in Irish waters. Ireland is at the geographical centre of this EU Recovery
Plan Area. The mixed nature of the stocks involved means the plan will have a
considerable impact on our fishing communities and our fishing fleet. Recovery plans
are designed to reduce fishing pressure on cod, hake and other fish stock. Emergency
a) Closed areas to protect spawning adult fish and/or measures to protect juvenile
fish in nursery areas.
b) Increased net mesh sizes; the minimum mesh size is now 100mm.
c) The use of escape panels in trawl nets to reduce the catch of small fish.
d) The reduction in fishing time spent at sea.
e) Better enforcement of fishing regulations.
Ireland’s Sustainable Energy Policy
The use of energy sources in Ireland is controlled by government policies and targets
and by EU directives on the generation of electricity from renewables, biofuels and
other sources. In 2006 the Irish government published a green paper on energy (a
green paper is a government report and consultation document of policy proposals for
debate and discussion). Its main concerns were:
1. Greenhouse gas production levels:
Under the Kyoto Protocol the EU committed to reduce its annual greenhouse gas
emissions to 8% below 1990 levels by 2012. In a further commitment the EU has
agreed to a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Under the Kyoto agreement,
Ireland can produce 63 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year up to 2020. In
2012, Ireland produced 58.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Reducing pollutants causing acid rain and smog
Ireland is also bound by the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution.
This aims to reduce emissions that cause acid rain and smog. Under this convention
Ireland must reduce its emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides below an
agreed limit but Ireland has not managed to do this at present.
3. Increasing renewable energy production
The EU renewable energy directive has set targets for the use of renewable energy.
Under this directive Ireland must produce about 25% of its electricity from renewable
sources by 2020. The Irish government’s national target specified in the 2006 Green
Paper on Renewable Energy is 30% by 2020. The development of wind farms for the
production of electricity in Ireland play an important role in Ireland’s proposed
renewable energy policy.
4. Keeping energy supplies secure
Ireland’s proposed energy policy is concerned with keeping supplies of energy
affordable and secure into the future. Security of Ireland’s energy supply involves such
our dependency on imported fuel
the capacity and constancy of the supply
distribution infrastructure (power lines and pipelines)
Since the mid-1990s Ireland’s dependency on imported fuel has grown due to the
increase in energy use, the decrease in natural gas production at Kinsale Gas Field as it
nears the end of its life and declining peat production. Ireland is currently dependent
of imported fuels for 86% of its energy production. This trend is due to the fact that
Ireland has not harnessed all of its renewable energy potential and also because gas
from the Corrib Gas Field is not yet in production.
Higher and Ordinary Level:
1. Examine the role of each of the following in environmentally sustainable development in
(a) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
(b) Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)
Higher Level only:
2. Examine with reference to an example/examples you have studied, the importance of
ensuring that development is environmentally sustainable. (30 marks / 15 SRPs).