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Soil Health in Ireland

Soil Health in Ireland

Soil health is important nationally for a range of functions. Healthy soil provides us with clean air, food and water, supports ecosystem services, the growth of plant and animal life and provides the foundations for human habitats and structures.

The threats to soils under current land use, management and climate conditions are low by international standards (EPA, 2014d). Soils can act as barriers to subsurface contamination. Where geological bedrock is exposed or soils are thin, the potential exists for pollutants to permeate deeper into the ground and have wider impacts on aspects such as groundwater quality.

The EU Seventh Environment Action Programme (which came into force in 2014) commits Member States to increase efforts to reduce soil erosion, increase soil organic matter and remediate contaminated sites by 2020 (EC, 2013). The Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) (WFD) and the Floods Directive (2007/EC/60) create planning mechanisms that can support actions to improve soil quality and combat land degradation, including measures to put green infrastructure in place (EEA, 2016).

There is little specific legislation relating to soil protection in Ireland, apart from that for key habitats/ecosystems associated with peat soils and site-specific regulation linked to industrial and waste facilities. However, the 2011 Environment Impact Assessment Regulations for On-Farm Development include requirements for environmental impact assessments for soil operations. In addition, the European Communities (Environmental Liabilities) Regulations 2008 establish an environmental liability framework based on the “polluter pays” principle to prevent and remedy environmental damage, including damage on, in and under land.

(Reference: Environmental Protection Agency – Ireland’s Environment An Assessment 2016)

Photo by Muffin Creatives:

Verde undertake characterisation of soils as required by landfill regulations and undertake the necessary sampling to assess whether a waste is classified as hazardous or non-hazardous. Our specialists are trained in the use of the appropriate classification tools and have an in-depth knowledge of the relevant legislation and guidance, which allows them to guide clients in establishing cost effective and sustainable soil management solutions.