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Ireland wants time to answer EC

THE IRISH government has asked for more time to respond to accusations by the European Commission that it has broken European environmental laws on construction projects.

A deadline of 9 April was originally imposed by environment commissioner Margot Wallstrom in a 19 page letter sent in February (NCE 15 March).

In bruising language, her letter accused the Irish government of failing to implement EU environmental legislation on private and public construction works and of not responding to complaints. She also wrote that while Ireland had enacted legislation to conform with EU directives, it did not have the 'necessary interpretation and administrative practice to make it systematically effective'.

A spokeswoman for environment minister Noel Dempsey said that because of the complexities involved, more time was needed for a response. The EC is likely to decide on the extension over Easter.

Failure to satisfy the EC could lead to European Court action and unlimited daily fines levied against the Irish state, as well as requiring re-programming and costing of projects not conforming with EU environmental law.

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