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Ireland in the dock over asbestos dust

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The Irish government is considering how to respond to a threat to take it to the European Court of Justice over the need to write official construction work plans to prevent the release of asbestos dust into the environment.

The ec claims that Irish legislation does not force companies to write such plans, which also have to ensure that asbestos dust is not left in a building after construction has been completed.

It has told Dublin that it has a duty to ensure that this is the case, under Council Directive 87/217/eec on the prevention and reduction of environmental pollution by asbestos. Ireland has written to Brussels three times, saying that its legislation is adequate, but claims have fallen on deaf ears.

Now the Commission has issued the Irish government with a Reasoned Opinion, an official note stating that Brussels considers that Ireland has broken eu law and warning it that a referral to the European Court of Justice could follow if nothing is done about it. Ireland has two months in which to tell the Commission how it intends to change its laws, or a court battle is likely.

An official at the Irish department of the environment told the aj: 'We will have to consider whether we will defend ourselves at the court or whether there is some avenue by which we can satisfy them by amending the legislation.'

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