Guidance for Members of the Public regarding Complaints
This guidance explains how, you as a member of the public can go about making a complaint or reporting pollution incidents regarding litter, illegal waste activities, noise nuisance, drinking water complaints, river quality and/or other general environmental pollution matters. There are a number of state bodies with responsibilities for environmental protection.
The relevant state bodies are set out below
- Local Authority i.e. Wicklow Local Authorities (Wicklow County Council, Arklow Town Council, Bray Town Council and Wicklow Town Council) - responsibility for investigating and resolving complaints about pollution and environmental protection matters in their functional areas.
- Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) - responsible for enforcing licences issued by the EPA and also acts as a resource for members of the public who have exhausted all other avenues of complaint.
- Health Service Executive - responsible for dealing with complaints about public health matters.
- Regional Fisheries Boards – mainly responsible for aquatic life forms and the fish habitat. They investigate complaints about fish kills and water pollution matters, including pollution arising from Local Authority Works and are also interested in any activity that impacts on waters such as dredging, gravel removal, bridge construction etc.
- National Parks and Wildlife Service - responsible for investigating complaints about wildlife and habitat protection matters.
- Health and Safety Authority - responsible for securing health and safety in the workplace.
- Food Safety Authority of Ireland - protects consumers’ health and consumers’ interests by ensuring that food consumed, distributed, marketed or produced in the state meets the highest standards of food safety and hygiene.
- Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) - the national organisation with regulatory, monitoring and advisory responsibilities in matters pertaining to ionising radiation and with radioactive contamination in the environment.
When Should You Contact Wicklow Local Authorities?
Pollution incidents, reports about illegal dumping and complaints about general environmental pollution matters should be reported in the first instance to Wicklow County Council. When you contact Wicklow County Council, the matter will be directed to the appropriate personnel in the Water and Environmental Services Section.
How to Contact the Local Authority?
It is preferable to make your complaint to Wicklow County Council in writing. Our address is Water and Environmental Services Section, Wicklow County Council, County Buildings, Wicklow. Complaints may also be emailed to Water and Environmental Services Section, Wicklow County Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to assist you, an Environmental Complaint form for submitting a complaint to Wicklow County Council is available on our website to download. Please note that you are not obliged to use this form. However, as it is in your interest to provide as much information as possible, the use of this complaint form is strongly recommended.
Whatever written method you use (letter, email, complaint form), it is advisable to keep a copy of whatever correspondence you send so as to facilitate any necessary follow up.
Complaints can also be made by telephone. However, you are strongly encouraged to follow up any telephone complaint with the submission of a written complaint using the complaints form provided, so that an effective and comprehensive investigation can be carried out.
Issues within the remit of the Local Authority
Where you have made a complaint to Wicklow County Council on environmental issues, and the Wicklow County Council fails to respond to your complaint and the environmental pollution problem persists, you should then contact the EPA Office of Environmental Enforcement, so that your complaint can be investigated. Copies of all correspondence between yourself and the local authority should be submitted along with details of your complaint.
Standard forms for submission of complaints to the EPA Office of Environmental Enforcement are available on the EPA website
What You Can Expect from Wicklow County Council?
Having forwarded a written complaint to Wicklow County Council, it is our intention to work within the following timeframes:
- A written acknowledgment of receipt within 5 working days.
- A full response on the complaint investigation to issue as soon as possible but within 20 working days.
Where it is not possible to resolve a complaint within this timeframe, you will be advised of this; of the progress made in resolution to the complaint and also when a final response on the complaint investigation may issue.
Telephone Complaints (Tel. 0404 20296)
Where you make initial contact with Wicklow County Council by telephone regarding an environmental complaint, our personnel will endeavour to give you as much assistance as reasonably possible and provide you with accurate and clear information.
If the matter cannot be dealt with immediately, our personnel will take your details and tell you when you can expect to hear from us again. We will then arrange to return your call to provide you with the relevant information.
Again, it must be reiterated that in order for an effective investigation of the complaint issue to occur, full written details are clearly preferable. Accordingly, written complaints (or a written follow up of your initial complaint call) are encouraged.
Please note that anonymous complaints are not encouraged. In many cases insufficient or vague details are supplied and the lack of complainant contact details enabling investigators to seek further information or to clarify information makes effective investigation very difficult and sometimes impossible. Moreover, the lack of complainant contact details means that we, Wicklow County Council cannot report back on our investigation of the complaint to you.
Accordingly, the provision of name and contact details is encouraged. However, where you do wish your name and contact details to be kept confidential, this should be specifically requested in the written complaint.
Wicklow County Council will respect your wishes in this regard within the powers provided under the Freedom of Information Act 1997.
What Wicklow County Council Expects of You
Please note that Wicklow County Council staff are entitled to be treated with courtesy and respect. Accordingly, the following types of behaviour are not acceptable:
- Harassment of staff by use of offensive or inappropriate language
- Behaviour which is disruptive; or use of violence or threat of violence towards staff
If you feel that you have been unfairly treated or are not satisfied with our decision on your complaint, it is open to you to contact the Office of the Ombudsman.
By law the Ombudsman can investigate complaints about any of our administrative actions or procedures as well as delays or inaction in your dealings with us. The Ombudsman provides a free, impartial and independent dispute resolution service.
Contact details are as follows:
Office of the Ombudsman 18 Lower Leeson Street Dublin 2
Tel: Lo-call 1890 22 30 30
Tel: 01 639 5600
Fax: 01 639 5674