Environmental Complaints – what to do

Environmental ComplaintsThe EPA have presented advice on who to contact and what to do when you identify an environmental problem.

Who to Contact

In many cases, it will be possible to resolve an environmental problem by contacting the person or business that you think is causing the problem directly.

  • If you do contact the person or business directly, it is best to decide before you make contact what outcome you would like to see.
  • Then contact them directly, by phone or in writing and outline the issue that needs to be resolved, how you would like to see it resolved and agree a timescale for this to be achieved.

Some areas, like wildlife and habitat protection, workplace health and safety, and public health are the responsibility of specific public bodies.

If the first step in the process has not produced a satisfactory result please:-

  • Contact your local authority where the problem relates to matters like littering, backyard burning, water pollution, noise, dust and smells

or

or

If you’ve been dealing with an EPA licensed site and the problem has not been resolved then you should contact the EPA.

  • Also, in cases where a local authority has investigated your complaint and the problem persists, please contact the EPA.
  • It is important to note that the EPA will not become involved in investigating an issue that should be resolved by a local authority, until the relevant local authority has been given an opportunity to investigate and resolve the issue.

What to Say and Do.

When you are seeking to resolve an environmental problem, keep the following things in mind.

  • Keep a record: If you have chosen to get in contact by phone, it is good practice to take note of the date and time of the call, the name of the person you spoke to, the main points of the conversation, what actions have been undertaken by the person contacted and by yourself. Where further calls are made the same information should be taken and retained.
  • Details are important: Give as much detail as possible – Who? What? When? Where?
  • Follow up: You may wish to follow up any phone calls in writing or by e-mail. If so, make sure you keep a copy of any correspondence. This information may be useful in later steps of the process.
  • Online form: You can also use the Environmental Complaint Form available on the local authority’s or EPA website and also at the local authority or EPA offices. Again, please remember to keep a copy of all correspondence.
  • Keeping abreast of progress:  When you have made a complaint, you will be told how your complaint will be dealt with. Some problems can be resolved quickly. However, some environmental problems by their nature can take a considerable amount of time to resolve. If you would like to hear more about progress on your complaint, please contact the relevant local authority or EPA office where you lodged your complaint.
  • Confidentiality: To progress its investigation, the local authority or the EPA will, in many cases, need to be able to contact you for further information or assistance. You will be encouraged to give your name and contact details, as investigating anonymous complaints can be very difficult. You can request that your name and contact details be kept confidential.  In order to maintain a complete public record of activities relating to an EPA licensed facility/site, it is normal practice that complaint details about licensed facilities are put on public file. Again, you can request that your name and contact details be kept confidential in which case your name and details will be withheld from the public file.  Please note that information submitted to public bodies is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003.
  • Your role as a witness:  Finally, in some instances it may be necessary that a court action be taken to resolve a problem.  If this is the case you  may be asked to asked to act as a witness and to give sworn testimony.

Source: EPA

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