There are two other Agreements associated with the Aarhus Convention, namely an amendment to the Convention regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer register:
GMO Amendment to the Convention
The GMO Amendment to the Aarhus Convention was adopted in 2005. This specifically puts in place requirements for public participation in decision-making in relation to the deliberate release of Genetically Modified Organisms.
The GMO Amendment has been implemented in the EU by an EU Directive Directive 2001/18/EC (external link) which was subsequently amended by the Directive EU 2015/412 (external link). This amendment allows for Member States of the European Union to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of approved GMO crops within a specified territory.
'Deliberate Release' refers to placing Genetically Modified (GM) products on the market or the cultivation of GM crops. This Directive has been transposed in Ireland by the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2003, S.I. No. 500 of 2003 .
Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers
The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) serves to enhance public access to information on the environment by maintaining a register of industrial activities which release emissions in to the environment. This facilitates public participation in environmental decision-making and contributes to the prevention and reduction of environmental pollution.
The PRTR in Ireland is a national environmental database, or inventory, is intended to make it easier for citizens to gain information about emissions to the environment.
This publicly accessible register contains information on the release of a defined set of pollutants from specified activities into the environment.
The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) The Pollutant Release and Transfer Register Regulations 2011, S.I. No. 649 of 2011 designates the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the Competent Authority which manages the Register in Ireland.
The EPA established the Register in October 2011 and it currently contains information about emissions from more than 300 industrial facilities across the country. More information on the Register is available on the EPA website here.
Ireland submits a National Implementation Report to the UNECE every 3 years on the PRTR Protocol. More information is available at the UNECE website.
Monitoring and reporting
Under Article 17, paragraph 2 of the PRTR Protocol, it is required that the implementation of the Protocol is kept under continuous review. This is achieved through regular reporting by the Parties in National Implementation Reports (NIRs). These are to be completed and submitted to the UNECE ahead of the Meeting of the Parties (MoP) which is held every 3 years.
Ireland prepared and submitted its 2nd National Implementation Report in 2017 ahead of the 2nd Meeting of the Parties in Budva, Montenegro in September 2017 following a public consultation to provide the UNECE, the PRTR Protocol Secretariat and the PRTR Protocol Compliance Committee with the widest possible range of views and opinions on issues related to the implementation and practical arrangements for the promotion of the PRTR Protocol in Ireland.
As part of the public consultation, the Department invited comments from stakeholders, members of the public and other interested parties on a preliminary draft report, updated to reflect any changes in the implementation of the PRTR protocol in Ireland since the previous report published in 2014.
During the public consultation process, which ran for 4 weeks at the end of 2016, 2 submissions were received. All submissions received were analysed and summarised in a decision-making table and used to inform the final draft of the report, in consultation with the EPA as the competent authority.