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The CSO wishes to thank: Birdwatch Ireland; Coillte; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment; Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; DKM Economic Consultants; European Environmental Agency; Environmental Protection Agency; Eurostat; Forest Service; Met Éireann; Sea Fisheries Protection Authority; and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland for providing data and technical advice on the most appropriate indicators for Ireland. The structure of these background notes follows the nine domains referred to in this report: air, greenhouse gases and climate change, water, land use, energy, transport, waste, biodiversity and heritage and the environmental economy.

Domain 1 – Air

Particulate matter (1.1 and 1.2)

There are many sources of particulate matter (dust) including vehicle exhaust emissions, soil and road surfaces, construction works and industrial emissions. Particulate matter can be formed from reactions between different pollutant gases. Small particles can penetrate the lungs and cause damage. These are known as PM10 (diameter less than 10µm) and PM2.5 (diameter less than 2.5µm). There are high levels of PM10 in many cities and towns. In smokeless fuel zones, levels of particulate matter decreased after the ban on bituminous coal in Dublin in 1990. The ban was extended to other parts of Ireland subsequently.

PM2.5 has similar effects on health as PM10. However, PM2.5 is a better indicator of anthropogenic (man-made) emissions than PM10. Fine particulate matter PM2.5 is responsible for significant negative impacts on human health. There is no identifiable threshold below which PM2.5 would not pose a risk.

National Emissions Ceiling 2010 Directive (1.3 to 1.10)

Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on National Emission Ceilings for certain pollutants (NEC Directive) sets upper limits for each Member State for the total emissions in 2010 of the four pollutants responsible for acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone pollution (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds and ammonia), but leaves it largely to the Member States to decide which measures – on top of Community legislation for specific source categories - to take in order to comply. Ireland’s limits are as follows: 

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

  42 kilotonnes

Nitrogen oxides (NOX)

  65 kilotonnes


  55 kilotonnes

Ammonia (NH3)

116 kilotonnes

Sulphur dioxide (1.3 and 1.4)

The main source of sulphur dioxide in Ireland is burning coal and oil to heat homes and industries and to produce electricity. Levels have decreased over recent years due to increased use of low-sulphur "smokeless" coal, increased use of natural gas instead of solid fuels and reduced industrial emissions through Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licensing.

Nitrogen oxides (1.5 and 1.6)

Emissions from traffic are the main source of nitrogen oxides in Ireland along with electricity generating stations and industry. Oxides of nitrogen contribute to the formation of acid rain and of ozone. Nitrogen oxides levels in Ireland are moderate but are increasing due to growth in vehicle numbers.

Ammonia (1.7 and 1.8)

Ammonia (NH3) emissions are associated with acid deposition and the formation of secondary particulate matter. The agriculture sector accounts for virtually all ammonia emissions in Ireland. Grasslands ultimately receive the bulk of the 40 million tonnes of animal manures produced annually in Ireland along with over 300,000 tonnes of nitrogen in fertilisers. A proportion of the nitrogen in these inputs is volatilised into the air as ammonia.

Non-methane volatile organic compounds (1.9 and 1.10)

Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) are emitted as gases from the use of a wide array of products including paints, paint strippers, glues, adhesives and cleaning agents. Several constituents of gasoline are important NMVOCs, which are emitted by combustion and evaporation. NMVOCs also arise as a product of incomplete combustion of other fuels, especially solid fuels and as such there are significant emissions from residential fuel combustion. The principal environmental problem associated with NMVOCs is their contribution to the formation of ground level ozone. Fugitive emissions are intentional or unintentional releases of gases from anthropogenic activities. Intentional or unintentional release of greenhouse gases may also occur during the extraction, processing and delivery of fossil fuels to the point of final use.

Ozone threshold exceedances (1.11)

The ozone layer is the Earth's natural sunscreen, filtering out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. UV rays can cause damage to humans and other forms of life.

Although the ozone layer is high up in the atmosphere, chemical substances used at the surface of the planet can damage it. If the ozone layer is damaged, UV rays can get through and cause damage to humans and other forms of life.

Domain 2 – Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change

Greenhouse gas emissions (2.1 to 2.5)

Climate change refers to significant change in the measures of climate, such as temperature, rainfall, or wind over a long period of time. Climate change is a natural phenomenon. However, the current phase of climate change is being accelerated by human activities that result in the emission of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are those gases which contribute to the greenhouse effect. Seven greenhouse gases are regulated. These are:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFC)
  • Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6)
  • Nitrogen Trifluoride (NF3)

Each of these gases is regulated by global environmental agreements: the Kyoto Protocol running from 2008-2012 and an agreement signed in Paris in 2015 which comes into force in 2020. Ireland’s Kyoto target was 62.837 million tonnes of C02 equivalent or +13% compared with 1990.

EU greenhouse gas emission targets and reduction obligations for Ireland under the Climate and Energy Package are split into two broad categories. The first category covers the large energy and power (i.e. energy intensive) industry which have their emissions controlled under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The second category deals with the non-Emissions Trading Scheme sectors such as agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, waste and non-energy intensive industry. The ETS sector has an overall EU reduction target of 21% between 2005 and 2020.

The EU’s Effort Sharing Decision (Decision No 406/2009/EC) sets targets for the non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector for EU Member States including Ireland for 2020.

Ireland’s 2020 target is to achieve a 20% reduction of non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector emissions on 2005 levels with annual binding limits set for each year over the period 2013-2020.

Average annual temperature and annual rainfall (2.6 and 2.7)

Temperature and rainfall are key indicators of changes in climate. Air temperature and rainfall have been measured since the early 19th century and the measurement network was reorganised and expanded following the establishment of the Irish Meteorological Service in 1936.

Currently temperature and rainfall are recorded every minute at 25 synoptic stations, and once a day at 65 climatological and approximately 440 rainfall stations.

Domain 3 - Water

Bathing water quality (3.1 and 3.2)

Bathing water assessment and classification according to EU Bathing Water Directive 2006/7/EC.

Bathing waters are classified as poor quality when microbiological levels are worse than the "sufficient" values set out in the directive.

For inland waters


Excellent quality

Good quality


Intestinal enterococci (cfu/100 ml) 

200 (*)

400 (*) 

330 (**)

Escherichia coli (cfu/100 ml)

500 (*)

1,000 (*)

900 (**)

(*)Based upon a 95 percentile evaluation.
(**) Based upon a 90 percentile evaluation. 

For coastal waters and transitional waters


Excellent quality

Good quality


Intestinal enterococci (cfu/100 ml) 

100 (*)

200 (*) 

185 (**)

Escherichia coli (cfu/100 ml)

250 (*)

500 (*)

500 (**)

(*) Based upon a 95 percentile evaluation
(**) Based upon a 90 percentile evaluation

Both Escherichia coli and Intestinal Enterococci are types of bacteria that live predominantly in the gut of warm blooded animals, including humans. They generally enter the water environment in run-off containing small amounts of faeces from deposition on agricultural land or urban areas, from the land-spreading of manures, or directly from wastewater treatment systems and overflows. Their lifetime outside the gut generally ranges from a few hours to a few days depending on sunlight, temperature, and other environmental conditions.

Drinking water quality (3.3)

Trihalomethanes (THM’s) are formed in drinking-water primarily as a result of chlorination of organic matter present naturally in raw water supplies. The rate and degree of THM formation increase as a function of the chlorine and humic acid concentration, temperature, pH and bromide ion concentration.

Before 2004, there was no parametric limit for compliance with levels of trihalomethanes (THM). In 2009 the limit changed from 150 µg/l to 100 µg/l. Table 3.3 shows the compliance rate from 2004 to 2014 using a compliance rate of 100 µg/l.

Urban waste water treatment (3.4)

The Urban Waste Water (UWW) regulations define an agglomeration as 'an area where the population and/or economic activities are sufficiently concentrated for urban waste water to be collected and conducted to an urban waste water treatment plant or to a final discharge point'. Normally there is one agglomeration with a waste water collection system treated by one waste water treatment plant. In the UWW report, the EPA report on villages, towns and cities with 500 people or more.

The Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations 2001-2010 and the 1991 Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) set requirements on the provision of waste water collection systems and treatment plants, provide for the monitoring of waste water discharges and specify limits for certain parameters in the discharges.

The Regulations and UWWTD specify monitoring requirements and set limits on the concentration of biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, and total suspended solids in waste water discharges.

River water quality (3.5)

River water is the principal source of drinking water in Ireland. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts an assessment of river water quality on behalf of Local Authorities and publishes the figures every three years. Samples are taken from over 3,000 locations around Ireland. These biological surveys began in 1971. River water quality is classified into four quality classes based on a scheme of biotic indices, which codify the characteristic changes induced in flora and fauna of rivers and streams in the presence of pollution. Unpolluted waters include pristine waters and waters of a less high but acceptable standard. Slightly polluted and moderately polluted waters are mainly characterised by eutrophication and may not be able to support fish survival. Seriously polluted waters are characterised by the presence of high concentrations of biodegradable organic waste. These waters are of very little beneficial use.

Nitrates in groundwater (3.6)

Nitrates can cause serious problems when they end up in groundwater or surface water by causing increased growth of algae and eutrophication of water systems. The drop in oxygen that comes with the presence of nitrates can lead to fish kills. The problem stems from the practice of spreading animal wastes – which contain nitrates in high concentrations – on land to improve crops and pastures.

Chemical status of groundwater bodies (3.7)

Groundwater monitoring programmes are required to provide a coherent and comprehensive overview of water status within each river basin, to detect the presence of long-term anthropogenically induced trends in pollutant concentrations and to ensure compliance with Protected Area objectives. Reliable and comparable methods for groundwater monitoring are an important tool for assessment of groundwater quality (this is applicable to quantity as well). A groundwater body will be at good chemical status if the following criteria are satisfied:

  • General water quality: The concentrations of pollutants should not exceed the quality standards applicable under other relevant Community legislation;
  • Impacts on ecosystems: The concentration of pollutants should not be such as would result in failure to achieve the environmental objectives specified for associated surface waters nor any significant diminution of the ecological or chemical quality of such bodies nor in any significant damage to terrestrial ecosystems which depend directly on the groundwater body;
  • Saline intrusion: The concentrations of pollutants should not exhibit the effects of saline or other intrusions as measured by changes in conductivity.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires both surveillance and operational programmes to be established to provide the information needed to support the assessment of chemical status and identification and monitoring of pollutant trends.

The data on water bodies by count shows total numbers of all water bodies (including all horizons) assigned to a particular class of chemical status (either at country level or RBD level).

Domain 4 – Land Use

Land use categories (4.1)

Forest Land

Forest land is an area greater than one hectare which has a closed canopy of trees or where afforestation has been grant aided (though the canopy may not as yet be fully developed). It does not include orchards or hedgerows.


Cropland is the CSO’s annual estimate of crop areas based on survey returns and administrative data.


Lands reported as grasslands are based on land cover in 1990, and subsequent gains and removals. The land cover information does not indicate the condition of these grasslands and whether they are fit for grazing. A comparison of utilised agricultural areas and the land cover data indicates that (in any given year) we do not graze all our natural grasslands. It may be that over time, patterns of rotational grazing means that all these lands are grazed.


Wetland consists of both exploited wetlands and unexploited wetlands.

Unexploited wetland is based on an extrapolation of the 1990 CORINE area of peatlands and wetlands adjusted to account for afforestation and other demands for land. There has also been some managed and unmanaged rewetting of exploited peatland.

Corine Land Cover (CLC) is a map of the European landscape based on interpretation of satellite images. It provides comparable digital maps of land cover for each country for much of Europe. This is useful for environmental analysis and for policy makers.

Corine stands for Coordination of Information on the Environment. The EU established Corine in 1985 to create pan-European databases on land cover, biotopes (habitats), soil maps, and acid rain.


Settlement area is extrapolated from the 1990 CORINE area for urban and suburban land covers. Extrapolation is based on road completions, housing and other construction statistics. The original CORINE figure includes urban green areas (e.g. parks and leisure facilities).


Lakes are excluded from these land use categories. However watercourses, intertidal zones, coastal lagoons, salt marshes and estuaries are included. These are either included within Wetlands or Other Land depending on the likely vegetation associated with each category.

Other Land

Other land is the residual area when all other land use types have been estimated. It is assumed to include rock and sand areas and hedgerows (unless already reported under agricultural areas).

Afforestation (4.2)

Afforestation is the man-made establishment of new forests on treeless land.

Forest cover (4.3)

This is defined as land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 metres and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.

1. Forest is determined both by the presence of trees and the absence of other predominant land uses. The trees should be able to reach a minimum height of 5 metres .

2. Includes areas with young trees that have not yet reached but which are expected to reach a canopy cover of 10 percent and tree height of 5 metres. It also includes areas that are temporarily unstocked due to clear-felling as part of a forest management practice or natural disasters and which are expected to be regenerated within 5 years. Local conditions may, in exceptional cases, justify that a longer time frame is used.

3. Includes forest roads, firebreaks and other small open areas; forest in national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas such as those of specific environmental, scientific, historical, cultural or spiritual interest.

4. Includes windbreaks, shelterbelts and corridors of trees with an area of more than 0.5 hectares and width of more than 20 metres.

5. Includes abandoned shifting cultivation land with a regeneration of trees that have, or are expected to reach, a canopy cover of 10 percent and tree height of 5 metres.

6. Includes areas with mangroves in tidal zones, regardless of whether this area is classified as land area or not.

7. Includes rubber-wood, cork oak, energy wood and Christmas tree plantations.

8. Includes areas with bamboo and palms provided that land use, height and canopy cover criteria are met.

9. Excludes tree stands in agricultural production systems, such as fruit tree plantations (incl. olive orchards) and agri-forestry systems when crops are grown under tree cover.

Public forest (4.4)

Farm partners means that a farmer owns the land and Coillte manages the tree crop and shares in the profit.

Organic agricultural land (4.5 and 4.6)

Organic farming is a system of farming which avoids the use of soluble fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators, feed additives and other chemicals. The organic farmer relies on the use of crop rotations, animal manure, clover, low stocking rates and good animal husbandry for producing outputs.

Fertiliser sales and consumption (4.7 and 4.8)

Well-structured soils that are rich in nutrients are said to be highly fertile. Given sufficient light, warmth and water, they will produce abundant crops. However, the nutrients removed by crops or feeding animals must be replaced or soil fertility will be run down.

Nutrients can be replaced by returning to the soil, plant, animal or human waste, such as sewage sludge, or by adding mineral fertilisers. To grow well, crops need a balanced supply of essential nutrients. The main nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, potash and phosphate. These and most other nutrients are normally dissolved in water in the soil.

Livestock numbers (4.9 and 4.10)

The data for cattle are obtained by the CSO from Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine’s Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) system, formerly known as the Cattle Movement Monitoring System (CMMS). This system was introduced at the beginning of 2000 and involves electronically recording data on animal movements. Information on cattle numbers and on flows into and out of the cattle population has been available from this system since December 2002.

Dwelling completions (4.11 and 4.12)

Dwelling completions data are based on the number of new dwellings, including apartments, connected by ESB Networks to the electricity supply. These represent the number of homes completed and available and do not reflect any work-in progress. Local authority house completions do not include second-hand houses acquired by them. New units acquired under Part V, Planning and Development Acts 2000-2006 for local authority rental purposes are included. Voluntary and co-operative housing consists of housing provided under the capital loan and subsidy and capital assistance schemes.

Dwelling completions for EU countries includes both houses and apartments.

Domain 5 – Energy

Primary energy requirement and final energy consumption (5.1 to 5.3)

Total Primary Energy Requirement (TPER) is a measure of all energy consumed, including that consumed and/or lost in transformation and transmission/distribution processes (e.g. electricity generation transmission and distribution; oil refining). TPER = Indigenous Production + Imports - Exports - Marine Bunkers - Stock Change.

Total Final Consumption (TFC) represents the amount of energy consumed by the different sectors of the economy after all transformations have been completed. It excludes any losses that may occur in this process or in the transmission of these secondary sources of energy. The processes are the generation of electricity, oil refining and the production of briquettes (production of secondary energies).

The “Other” category in Table 5.3 refers to consumption of nuclear energy, energy generated from waste and derived heat. Derived heat covers the total heat production in heating plants and in combined heat and power plants. It includes the heat used by the auxiliaries of the installation which use hot fluid (space heating, liquid fuel heating, etc.) and losses in the installation/network heat exchanges. For auto-producing entities (entities generating electricity and/or heat wholly or partially for their own use as an activity which supports their primary activity) the heat used by the undertaking for its own processes is not included.

Energy intensity (5.4)

The energy intensity ratio is the result of dividing the gross inland consumption of energy by GDP. Since gross inland consumption of energy is measured in k.g.o.e. (kilogram of oil equivalent) and GDP in €1,000 at constant prices, this ratio is measured in kgoe per €1,000. Energy intensity measures the energy consumption of an economy and its overall energy efficiency.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the central aggregate of National Accounts. GDP represents the total value added (output) in the production of goods and services in the country. GDP at market prices is the final result of the production activity of resident producer units. GDP is compiled both in constant prices and in current prices. Constant price data indicate the development of volumes, while current price data reflect volume and price movements. The GDP figures are chain-linked volumes, with 2005 as the reference year.

The gross inland consumption of energy is calculated as the sum of the total primary energy requirement of the five types of energy: coal, electricity, oil, natural gas, and renewable energy sources. 

Primary energy production and renewable energy (5.5 to 5.10)

Production refers to the quantities of fuels extracted or produced. It is calculated after any operation for removal of inert matter or impurities (e.g. sulphur from natural gas). It refers only to indigenous production of fuels in Ireland.

Peat is a combustible soft, porous or compressed, fossil sedimentary deposit of plant origin with high water content (up to 90% in the raw state), easily cut, of light to dark brown colour.

Natural gas comprises gases, occurring in underground deposits, whether liquefied or gaseous, consisting mainly of methane. It includes both "non-associated" gas originating from fields producing only hydrocarbons in gaseous form and "associated" gas produced in association with crude oil as well as methane recovered from coal mines (colliery gas).

Hydro-power: Potential and kinetic energy of water converted into electricity in hydroelectric plants. Pumped storage is treated separately in the energy balance.

Wind energy: Kinetic energy of wind exploited for electricity generation in wind turbines.

Solid biomass: This covers organic, non-fossil material of biological origin which may be used as fuel for heat production or electricity generation. It comprises charcoal and wood, wood wastes and other solid wastes.

Charcoal covers the solid residue of the destructive distillation and pyrolysis of wood and other vegetal material.

Wood, wood wastes and other solid wastes cover purpose-grown energy crops (poplar, willow etc.), a multitude of woody materials generated by an industrial process (wood/paper industry in particular) or provided directly by forestry and agriculture (firewood, wood chips, bark, sawdust, shavings, chips, black liquor etc.) as well as wastes such as tallow, straw, rice husks, nut shells, poultry litter, crushed grape dregs etc.

Combustion is the preferred technology for these solid wastes. The quantity of fuel used is reported on a net calorific value basis.

Landfill gas: A gas composed principally of methane and carbon dioxide produced by anaerobic digestion landfill wastes.

Biogas: A gas composed principally of methane and carbon dioxide produced by anaerobic digestion of biomass, comprising: Sewage sludge gas, produced from the anaerobic fermentation of sewage sludge and other biogas, such as biogas produced from the anaerobic fermentation of animal slurries and of wastes in abattoirs, breweries and other agri-food industries.

Liquid biofuel: This covers the following fuels: Bioethanol: ethanol produced from biomass and/or biodegradable fraction of waste; Biodiesel: a diesel quality liquid fuel produced from biomass or used fried oils; Biomethanol: methanol produced from biomass and/or the biodegradable fraction of waste; Biodimethylether: a diesel quality fuel produced from biomass and/or the biodegradable fraction of waste; Other Liquid Biofuel: liquid biofuels, used directly as a fuel, not included in biogasoline or biodiesels.

Solar energy: Solar radiation exploited for hot water production and electricity generation by: flat plate collectors, for domestic hot water or for the seasonal heating of swimming pools; photovoltaic cells; solar thermal-electric plants. Passive solar energy for the direct heating, cooling and lighting of dwellings or other buildings is not included.

Geothermal energy: Energy available as heat emitted from within the earth’s crust, usually in the form of hot water or steam. It is exploited at suitable sites: for electricity generation using dry steam or high enthalpy brine after flashing or directly as heat for district heating, agriculture etc. Ground source geothermal energy is included in the category.

In calculating the contribution of hydro and wind energy the effects of weather fluctuation are smoothed through normalisation. The normalised figures are what will be reported to Europe as progress towards renewable electricity targets and are required by the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC).

Imported energy dependency (5.11 and 5.12)

Energy dependency shows the extent to which an economy relies upon imports in order to meet its energy needs. The indicator is calculated as net imports divided by the sum of gross inland energy consumption plus bunkers. The data are based in tonnes of oil equivalent.

Fuel imports (5.13)

The fuel import data presented in this table are based upon International Energy Agency/Eurostat/UNECE energy surveys which are carried out by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Domain 6 – Transport

Vehicles under current licence (6.1)

Vehicles under current licence includes private cars, goods vehicles, motor cycles, tractors, dumpers, excavators, public service vehicles, exempt vehicles and other vehicles.

New private vehicles licensed by emission class (6.3)

New vehicles registered after 1st July 2008 are subject to motor vehicle duty based on CO2 emissions rather than on engine size. The table below sets out the seven band classes.


CO2 emissions – grammes per km


O – 120 g


More than 120 g/km up to and including 140 g/km


More than 140 g/km up to and including 155 g/km


More than 155 g/km up to and including 170 g/km


More than 170 g/km up to and including 190 g/km


More than 190 g/km up to and including 225 g/km


More than 225 g/km


Road freight transport (6.4 and 6.5)

Tonne-Kilometres: For end-to-end journeys this is the result of multiplying the weight of goods carried by the distance they were carried.

Tonnes Carried is the weight of goods (including empties) carried inclusive of packaging etc. excluding the weight of demountable containers (if any) in which the goods are carried.

Rail and bus transport (6.6 and 6.7)

Bus transport in Ireland refers to large public service vehicles (PSVs) which cover all buses and coaches except those in private use, school buses and youth community buses.

Rail passenger transport figures in the EU refer to passenger kilometres per capita. Data are not applicable for Cyprus and Malta which do not have rail networks.

International air and sea passenger data (6.8 and 6.9).

Sea passenger data refers to international arrivals and departures at Irish sea ports, excluding passengers on cruise ships. Air passenger data in Table 6.8 refers to the number of international passengers carried on flights (both scheduled and unscheduled) arriving at and departing from airports in Ireland. Figures in 6.9 refer to passenger carried on international flights (both scheduled and unscheduled) arriving at or departing from airports in the EU.

Means of travel to work (6.10)

The data in this table are from the Census of Population question: “How do you usually travel to work, school or college?”

The respondent is asked to choose only one option, representing the longest part of their usual journey. The question is only asked of people working, and does not include students, unemployed or retired people.

Domain 7 – Waste

Municipal waste (7.1 to 7.4)

Municipal waste means solid household waste as well as commercial and other waste that, because of its nature or composition, is similar to household waste. It excludes municipal sludges and effluents. Municipal waste consists of three main elements - household, commercial (including non-process industrial waste) and street cleansing waste (street sweepings, street bins, municipal parks and cemeteries maintenance, waste, litter campaign material).

Waste management means the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste, including the supervision of such operations and the aftercare of disposal sites and including actions taken by dealers and brokers.

Disposal means any operation which is not recovery even where the operation involves, as a secondary consequence, the reclamation of substances or energy.

Recovery of packaging waste (7.5 and 7.6)

Packaging is used to contain, protect and present goods. Virtually all packaging eventually becomes waste. Packaging is made from such materials as cardboard, paper, glass, plastic, steel, aluminium, wood and composite materials such as those used in milk and juice cartons.

Recovery means any operation the principal result of which is waste serving a useful purpose by replacing other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function, or waste being prepared to fulfil that function, in the plant or in the wider economy.

Collection of Electrical waste (7.7 and 7.8)

The EPA collects and compiles statistics relating to Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment under EU Directive 2012/19/EC which replaced the earlier WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC. WEEE data are now split into 10 European categories compared with five WEEE families used in the last Environmental Indicator report in 2014. There is a break therefore in the time series between data referring to years before 2012 and subsequent years.

The 10 European WEE categories are: large household appliances; small household appliances; IT and telecommunications equipment; consumer equipment; lighting equipment; electrical and electronic tools; toys, leisure and sports equipment; medical devices; monitor and control instruments; and automatic dispensers.

Collection of construction and demolition waste (7.9)

Construction and demolition (C&D) waste is all waste that arises from construction, renovation and demolition activities and all wastes mentioned in Chapter 17 of the European Waste Catalogue (EWC).

The bulk of the tonnage is made up of soil and stones, while the remainder mainly comprises rubble, metals, timber, plastic and wood.

Construction and demolition waste data are compiled by the National Waste Collection Permit Office in County Offaly.

Domain 8 – Biodiversity and Heritage

Common Birds (8.1)

The Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) is Ireland’s national monitoring scheme for common and widespread breeding birds. It is funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and is coordinated by Birdwatch Ireland. It has been running since 1998.

The Common Bird Index in 2014 was based on 55 common and widespread breeding farmland birds which are monitored as part of the Countryside Birds Survey. The Countryside Bird Survey is based on a random and stratified sampling design, where squares were randomly selected and allocated in sequence within eight regions. Approximately 300 survey sites (one kilometre squares) throughout the country are surveyed every year and all birds seen and heard are recorded. These squares are located in a variety of habitats because of the random nature of the selection of squares, but squares with more than 50% water have been excluded. Accordingly, it is expected the species recorded reflect the diversity of habitats available in Ireland. Trends are generated for all species that occur in a minimum of 30 squares on average. Below this threshold, the trend result is much less robust. Consequently trends are produced only for those species that are relatively widespread. Species with more localised distributions are not included in the trend analyses. Accordingly, most of the species that are included are habitat generalists.

While overall trends have been broadly stable since monitoring began, it is important to note the following caveats: acute declines are known to have occurred in several of Ireland’s breeding bird populations before 1998, driven largely by the intensification of agricultural practices; and the CBS cannot accurately monitor the trends in species with scarce distributions

Common farmland birds (8.2)

The indicator is an aggregated index of population trend estimates of a selected group of 39 breeding bird species dependent on agricultural land for nesting or feeding. Indices are calculated for each species independently and are weighted equally when combined in the aggregate index using a geometric mean. Aggregated EU indices are calculated using population-weighted factors for each country and species.

Protected areas (8.3 and 8.4)

EU Member States, concerned about the decline of wild bird species adopted the Birds Directive 79/409/EEC in April 1979. It is the oldest piece of EU legislation on the environment and one of its cornerstones. Amended in 2009, it became Directive 2009/147/EC.

Habitat loss and degradation are the most serious threats to the conservation of wild birds. The Directive therefore places great emphasis on the protection of habitats for endangered and migratory species. It establishes a network of Special Protected Areas (SPA’s), including all the most suitable territories for these species. Since 1994, all SPA’s are included in the Natura 2000 ecological network, set up under the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC.

Adopted in 1992, the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements. It forms the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy with the Birds Directive and establishes the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas, safeguarded against potentially damaging developments.

Member States are required to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) for threatened species and habitats. This ensures the conservation of a wide range of rare, threatened or endemic species, including around 450 animals and 500 plants. Some 200 rare and characteristic habitat types are also targeted for conservation in their own right.

 National monuments (8.5)

The term ‘national monument’ as defined in Section 2 of the National Monuments Act (1930) means a monument ‘the preservation of which is a matter of national importance by reason of the historical, architectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest attaching thereto.” National monuments in State care include those which are in the ownership or guardianship of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Record of protected structures (8.6)

Every development plan by planning authorities includes a record of protected structures where the authority decides that they possess sufficient architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest to merit designation as a protected structure.

Domain 9 – Environmental Economy

Environmental taxes (9.1 and 9.2)

An environmental tax is defined by Regulation (EU) 691/2011 as:“a tax whose tax base is a physical unit (or a proxy of a physical unit) of something that has a proven, specific negative impact on the environment, and which is identified in ESA as a tax.”

Once a tax base has been included in the list of environmental tax bases, any tax levied on that base is considered an environmental tax, irrespective of the motivation behind it. A list of Environmental tax bases was agreed by Eurostat, the EU Commission, the OECD and the International Energy Agency and has been periodically revised.

There are four main types of environmental taxes: Energy, Transport, Resource and Pollution taxes.

A carbon tax was introduced by the government in 2010, which placed a tax upon auto-diesel, petrol, aviation gasoline, kerosene, marked gas oil, fuel oil, LPG (Other), Auto LPG, and natural gas.

Environmental transfers (9.3)

Transfers arise where goods, services and assets are provided without receiving any good, service or asset in return as a direct counterpart. National Accounts distinguish between two types of transfers: Current transfers which affect the level of disposable income; and capital transfers which are transfers linked to the acquisition (or disposal) of fixed assets.

An Environmental Transfer is therefore a “current or capital transfer that is intended to support activities which protect the environment or reduce the use and extraction of natural resources” (SEEA 2012 S 4.138).

The figures in Table 9.3 include environmental transfers from both the Irish Government and the European Union.

The most significant environmental transfers in Ireland are associated with the protection of biodiversity and landscape (farming and forestry), waste water management, energy efficiency and the production of energy from renewable sources.

Wholesale price indices for energy products (9.4)

The wholesale price index for energy products measures in index form the change in prices for electricity and petroleum fuels purchased by manufacturing industry in Ireland. The series is compiled using a Laspeyres type index.

Consumer price and harmonised price indices for energy products (9.5 and 9.6)

The Consumer Price Index is designed to measure the change in the average level of prices (inclusive of all indirect taxes) paid for consumer goods and services by all private and institutional households in the country and by foreign tourists holidaying in Ireland. In 2016, approximately 53,000 prices were collected for a representative basket consisting of 634 item headings in a fixed panel of retail and service outlets throughout the country during the week containing the second Tuesday of each month up to and including the third Tuesday of each month.

"Gas" includes both natural and bottled gas. Natural gas prices are obtained for residential usage (cents/pkWh); for the standing charge and for the gas carbon charge (cents/pkWh). VAT is included in all prices used. Bottled gas prices are calculated excluding the cost of delivery and cost of cylinder.

"Heat Energy" refers to hot water and steam purchased from district heating plants. It is not a widely available form of energy in Ireland at present and therefore a proxy heat energy price index is calculated using the price of other fuels.

Harmonised indices of consumer prices (HICPs) give comparable measures of inflation for the countries and country groups where they are produced. They are economic indicators that measure the change over time of the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. They are a set of consumer price indices (CPIs) calculated according to a harmonised approach and a single set of definitions. In particular, HICPs provide the official measure of consumer price inflation in the euro area for the purposes of monetary policy and the assessment of inflation convergence as required under the Maastricht criteria.

Resource use and resource productivity (9.7 and 9.8)

Domestic material consumption (DMC) equals domestic extraction plus imports minus exports. DMC measures the annual amount of raw materials extracted from the domestic territory of the national economic area, plus all physical imports minus all physical exports.

Domestic extraction covers the annual amount of solid, liquid and gaseous raw materials (except for water and air) extracted from the national territory to be used as material factor inputs in economic processing i.e. acquiring value within the economic system. These materials consist of biomass, construction and industrial minerals, gross ores and fossil fuels. Concerning the water content of the raw materials, the convention is to account for all raw materials in fresh weight, with the exception of grass harvest, fodder directly taken up by ruminants, and timber harvest.

Resource productivity is calculated as real GDP divided by domestic material consumption and is expressed in terms of euro per kilogram.

Imports and exports of fuels (9.9 and 9.10)

The data are a combination of Customs-based non-EU trade statistics and estimates from the Intrastat survey of Irish traders involved in trade with other EU member states. Imports and exports are classified according to the United Nations’ Standard Trade Classification, Revision 4 (SITC Rev 4). The SITC has been developed by the United Nations for the advancement of the international comparability of statistics on external trade.

Sea fishery landings (9.11 and 9.12)

These figures refer to all fish landings (live weight) by Irish and foreign boats in Irish ports. The data are provided by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

There are four types of fish included in these statistics: Deepwater; Demersal (fish which spend most of their time on or close to the seabed); Pelagic (species which spend most of their time somewhere in the water column off the bottom); and Shellfish.

Aquaculture and inland fisheries are excluded from these figures.