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Owen McIntyre

Abstract

In the absence of Community rules relating to soil contamination and protection, the Irish authorities have neglected to legislate for this issue. While a few common law tortious grounds of action and certain statutory regimes may be applicable to particular cases of soil contamination, their application is arbitrary and piecemeal, depending, for example, on the type of operation originally causing the contamination, on the extent of understanding of the problem at that time, on the nature of its related adverse effects, or on plans for the future use or development of the contaminated site. One particular lacuna in the coverage of the relevant Irish law relates to the problem of historical soil contamination, for which the Irish authorities have felt unable to legislate on account of a constitutional prohibition on retrospective liability. This paper seeks to set out the possible application of existing Irish rules to the problem of historical soil contamination and to highlight the shortcomings inherent therein. It also outlines the non-legislative solutions employed by Irish lawyers in the face of such legal uncertainty. It then goes on to examine the likely impacts of recent key developments, including the 2004 decision of the European Court of Justice in the Van de Walle case and the entry into force of the 2004 Environmental Liability Directive.

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Owen McIntyre

Abstract

While the Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers adopted in 2008 by the International Law Commission (ILC)1 follow the same format as the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention2 and might reasonably have been expected to adopt a similar normative approach wherever possible, the Preamble to the Draft Articles fails to make any reference to this or to other seminal instruments or codifications in the area of international water resources law and the document takes, in some respects, a radically different and less progressive stance. The principal difference in the Draft Articles, and one which can be linked to most of the other deviations, is the inclusion of an express reference to the sovereignty of aquifer States in a manner implying that this is the key guiding principle of the instrument. This emphasis on State sovereignty over shared, and often migratory, water resources appears to represent something of a retreat from the distributive equity inherent in the firmly established principle of equitable and reasonable utilization and from the intense procedural and institutional cooperation required to achieve the community of interests approach necessary to give meaning to this principle. Reliance on sovereignty implies instead a drift towards a position based more on the narrow and immediate self-interest of States. In order to avoid such an interpretation, it would have been better if the Draft Articles had sought to establish two separate but parallel regimes, one based on sovereignty and covering the static geological formation of the aquifer, and one covering the shared water resources contained in, and transiting through, the formation and based on equitable and reasonable utilization.

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Series:

Attila Tanzi, Owen Mcintyre and Alexandros Kolliopoulos

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Series:

Attila Tanzi, Owen McIntyre, Alexandros Kolliopoulos, Alistair Rieu-Clarke and Rémy Kinna

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Series:

Attila Tanzi, Owen McIntyre, Alexandros Kolliopoulos, Alistair Rieu-Clarke and Rémy Kinna