The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to distribute €10m in Government funding to 60 different projects proposed under its 2019 annual research calls and various schemes. The largest awards have been made to University College Cork (UCC) and NUI Galway for projects looking at plastic packaging and pesticide management for better water quality.

Other projects awarded as part of this latest funding will look at areas such as the effects of the climate crisis on Irish coasts, the effect of traffic emissions on air quality in Dublin and the radioactivity of Ireland’s surrounding water.

“Over 100 proposals were received by the EPA research programme under EPA research calls in 2019 and we are happy to announce today that the most promising projects are now getting underway,” said Laura Burke, the EPA’s director general.

“Ireland is experiencing complex and systemic challenges which impact on our environment and, by extension, our health. High-quality, policy-relevant research is essential to setting out sustainable and low-carbon transition pathways for our society, our ecosystems and our economy. It is also critical to informing good decision-making.”

Worrying times for water quality
The EPA’s research manager, Dr Alice Wemaere, added that this funding will give “an insight into the integrated nature of the environmental challenges facing us”.

“The co-funding model [from various departments and agencies] nurtures an integrated, cross-sectoral approach and provides us with the opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with other organisations in addressing key environmental challenges.”

In recent months, the EPA has warned that water quality in the country has deteriorated considerably, with only 53pc of surface waters in Ireland now having satisfactory water quality.
This marks a net decline of 5.5pc – totalling 128 water bodies – with a continuing decline in terms of Ireland’s most pristine sites. There are now just 20 pristine river sites across the country, according to the EPA, down from more than 500 sites in the late 1980s.

Colm Gorey

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