Spot a pollution issue? Here’s how to complain.

Very often we see environmental problems, breaches of the law and assume someone else has reported it. That may be a mistake. Never assume that someone else will do it. You are that someone!

You have a powerful tool at your disposal to help enforcement – it’s your mobile phone, contact list and camera. That’s all you need to become a vigilant voyeur or a vigilant environmental enforcer.

So if you spot illegal dumping, sniff dodgy smells or see emissions in the air or water that look unusual, better to report it than ignore it.

Environmental problems: Three steps to action.

Step one. Your first action should be to draw attention to the matter by the site owner, business or establishment where you see the breach. This might be a transport truck spilling liquid, an illegal dumpsite or a cloud of dark smoke coming from a building that is normally not the case. Try to contact the business directly and draw their attention to it and ask them to remedy the situation. Very often this will get them active to investigate and maybe even resolve it. If step 1 doesn’t give you a result, go to the next step.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to make a report to the local authority or the EPA. Here’s how.

Just click the area you are in and follow the information given.

Step two is to contact your local authority. The contact details for each local authority are on this link. Local Authority contact numbers

Step Three. Complain to the EPA 24/7 line.

Beyond this first number is the National Environmental Complains line, which is in 24/7 operation. Any member of the public can report pollution or illegal dumping via this 24 hour CallSave telephone number 1850 365 121.

Call this line, and you will be answered by a person (so far no robots or AI chatbots involved), round the clock, seven days a week. They will record the details of the complaint, such as location, nature of the complaint, and your contact details. They will pass the info to the relevant local authority. The Council will then assess and investigate the complaint as appropriate.

So do one thing right now. Just put this Phone number 1850 365 121 into your contacts list, label it EPA Complaints and have it ready when needed.

What is the NECL?

The NECL ( National Environmental Complaints Line) is the latest initiative by NIECE (the Network for Irelands Environmental Compliance and Enforcement) which includes the EPA, all local authorities, the Gardaí and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Remember that members of the public can also contact their local Council directly with their complaints, as per Step 2, if the line is answered. However, these Council lines may not be manned on a 24/7 basis. That’s where the EPA line comes in. The NECL (national environmental complaints line) ensures that day or night, you will reach a person who can take the details of their complaint and pass it on to the Council. Be warned that they may not act on it until the next business day. So if it is a dangerous event, ensure the Garda are alerted also or ensure the urgency is relayed in your call.

Get the Complaints App

There is a mobile APP also available, which is worth having on your phone. It’s called See It? Say It! This mobile app complements the 24-hour National Environmental Complaints Line (NECL) 1850 365 121. You can report issues such as backyard burning, fly tipping, water pollution, odours and littering and include photos. The App requires access to your GPS location info and Camera (as you would expect). Beware that there are mixed reviews of this app, and it needs to be speeded up. But try it and see for yourself. More info from the EPA here.h

Where do I get the app?

  1. iPhone App: Download it from the iTunes APP store
  2. Android App: Download from Google Play here

Use the app to take a photo and provide other details that may be important. Your contact information is required.

Your report is logged on where the location and photo is publicly visible, but your contact details are not. (Warning : this website is still in beta and is not very reactive yet. It has all Local authority issues (not just environmental) like street lights, broken kerbs, leaks etc). The local authority can see and respond to your report using this site.

You should also contact the local authority directly (numbers in Step 2 above) if you have any queries about the progress that is being made.

So make 2019 the year you become a vigilant voyeur for your environment. Be that someone that everyone else relies upon!