Ireland has received final warnings from the European Commission on four cases over failing to comply with rulings from the European Court of Justice.

The Commission has detailed the cases, including illegal development, which may harm heritage, access to the Irish courts and the protection of marine mammals.

Today’s announcement was tempered by the fact that two long-standing cases against Ireland on drinking water quality and shell-fish breeding grounds were closed at the same time.

Of the final warning cases, the most important relates to Ireland's failure to ensure that work on projects that might require an environmental impact assessment does not start before the necessary checks are carried out.

In 2008, the Court determined that Ireland's use of a system of retention permission to retrospectively approve such work was contrary to the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.

Another case relates to Ireland's failure to transpose into national law changes to the EIA Directive, including provisions on public participation in the decision-making process and access to justice.

If Ireland fails to act speedily on these complaints from the Commission, the State will be forced to return to the EU Court of Justice.