Air Quality Air Quality in Ireland reports identify that particulate matter from the burning of solid fuels, including wood, coal and peat, poses the greatest threat to human health with the problem most acute in small towns and rural areas. The second biggest cause of pollutants is nitrogen dioxide from cars, particularly in heavily trafficked urban areas. The protection of air quality requires cross-sectoral policy responses to address air pollution emissions from transport (diesel) energy (peat, biomass) and home heating (solid fuel). A National Clean Air Strategy will provide the strategic policy framework necessary to identify and promote integrated measures that are required to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air while delivering on wider national objectives. Arising from the EPA’s Ireland’s Environment: An Assessment 2016 report, the response required is for policymakers, legislators and regulators to ensure that the safest fuel and transport options are favoured and promoted to assist people in making healthier decisions. In parallel, individuals need to consider how their behaviours impact on our environment and contribute to health problems such as respiratory and heart disease in our own communities. Transformative change is required to prevent people being exposed to unacceptable levels of pollution by supportingpublic transport,walking and cycling asmore favourable modes of transport to the private car and the promotion of energy efficient buildings and homes and innovative design solutions. The careful planning of nature-based solutions, blue green infrastructure and vegetation are important for air quality in urban areas, as trees naturally remove pollutants from the air and help better manage urban micro-climates. Noise Exposure to excessive noise can have significant impacts on human health as well as pressures to wildlife and ecosystems. According to WHO, excessive noise is the second greatest environmental cause of health problems after air quality. Environmental noise from major infrastructure including roads, railways and airports is governed by the EU’s Environmental Noise Directive (2002/49/EC). The preparation of strategic noise maps is a major task associated with this directive and this is currently under way in Ireland. Following completion of the noise maps, the relevant Action planning authorities will prepare Noise Action Plans. The action plans are designed to manage environmental noise through land-use planning, traffic management and control of noise sources.
Air Quality It is an objective to: a. Improve and maintain good air quality and help prevent harmful effects on human health and the environment in our urban and rural areas through integrated land use and spatial planning that supports public transport, walking and cycling the promotion of energy efficient buildings and homes, heating systems with zero local emissions, green infrastructure planning and innovative design solutions and promotion of measures that improve air quality including provision and management of green areas and vegetation; b. Support local data collection in the development of air quality monitoring and to investigate the merits of creating a regional air quality and greenhouse gas emissions inventory.
Noise It is an objective to promote the pro-active management of noise where it is likely to have significant adverse impacts on health and the environment. It is also an objective to support the aims of the Environmental Noise Regulations through national planning guidance and Noise Action Plans formajor urban centres as considered appropriate.
In addition to controlling excess noise, it is also important to identify and protect those areas which are substantially unaffected by man-made noise. Accessibility to quietness is highly important to the health of both wildlife and humans. This is particularly so in urban environments leading to the concept of Relatively Quiet Areas, such as local parks, green and blue areas and are valued by the public as areas of tranquillity. The RSES supports ‘Quiet Areas’ in proactively managing noise as part of noise levels action plans
Southern Regional Assembly | RSES
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