Dáil Éireann - Volume 605 - 28 June, 2005

Written Answers - Waste Disposal.

  38. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he intends to make funding available to local authorities for the remediation of older illegal dump sites or of closed sites in the ownership of local authorities following the results of the office of environmental enforcement audit of dump sites used between 1977 and 1996; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22216/05]

  Mr. Roche:The policy direction which I have recently issued under section 60 of the Waste Management Act 1996 directs the local authorities to ensure that the requirements of section 22 of that Act are fully met in the current review of their waste management plans.

Section 22 states that a waste management plan shall include information on: the identification of sites at which waste disposal or recovery activities have been carried on; the assessment of any risk of environmental pollution arising as a result of such activities; measures proposed to be taken or, where such an assessment has already been made, measures taken, to prevent or limit any such environmental pollution; and the identification of necessary remedial measures in respect of such sites and measures proposed to be taken or, where such measures have already been identified, measures taken, to achieve such remediation, having regard to the cost effectiveness of available remediation techniques. This exercise will be completed as part of the process of replacing the current waste management plans over the coming months.

[545] As regards remediation costs related to illegal dumping, the regulatory authorities have been directed to pursue illegal holders of waste, looking to the maximum potential sanctions available in law. In that regard, prosecutions should be taken in all cases using the powers available under the Waste Management Act, as amended, or other relevant legislation to maximise the deterrent factor. The Garda Síochána should be asked to become involved in regard to more serious offences and the prosecution of offences should be at the highest available judicial level.

In addition, a landfill levy shall be applied in all circumstances of disposal of waste by means of an unauthorised landfill activity after 1 June 2002, when the landfill levy regulations came into effect, and local authorities should, where practicable, pursue civil remedies against illegal operators under the provisions of sections 55 to 58 of the Act, for example, to seek to recover the costs of measures taken to prevent or limit environmental pollution caused by the waste.

Clearly there may also be cost implications related to the remediation of older sites, which may not be amenable to recovery in the courts from those concerned. There may also be cost implications for closed sites which are or were in the ownership of local authorities. Pending the outcome of the section 22 process it is not possible to quantify the extent of future costs in this regard.

  39. Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason he has recently issued policy directions on the movement of waste; the impact such directions are expected to have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22291/05]

  44. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the names of the private sector stakeholders, including waste firms, which have been in contact with him about the relaxation of the planning guidelines for waste facilities such as landfills and incinerators; the principal arguments, technical and otherwise, put forward by these stakeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22224/05]

  45. Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make a statement on the meeting between a company (details supplied) and his Department regarding changes they were proposing to Government policy on the regional movement of waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22292/05]

  116. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make a statement on meetings and submissions made to his Department by a company (details supplied) regarding decisions of An Bord Pleanála relating to waste. [22306/05]

  127. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if [546] he has received legal advice regarding the decision of An Bord Pleanála to limit the origin of waste to the proposed Carronstown incinerator to the north-east regional area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22305/05]

  Mr. Roche:I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 44, 45, 116 and 127 together.

The most recent waste management policy statement, Taking Stock and Moving Forward, April 2004, recognised that the prohibition on all inter-regional movements of waste could be unduly restrictive in terms of securing the development of waste infrastructure and the objectives of waste management plans. It is the case that most waste facilities currently in place are not subject to conditions which limit the geographic area from which they can take waste. In fact, the absence of such restrictions has traditionally allowed local authorities to manage capacity constraints by providing for inter-regional movement of waste. Accordingly, the policy statement provided for an examination of the issues arising in terms of the inter-relationship between regional boundaries and waste facilities.

Concerns about the implications of such planning conditions were expressed to my Department by stakeholders from both the public and private sectors and, in particular, by the Irish Waste Management Association. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency in its 2001 waste database report recommended that the inter-regional movement and treatment of waste should be provided for in appropriate circumstances.

Following legal advice, I recently issued guidance under section 60 of the Waste Management Act to clarify that the application of the proximity principle in the context of waste management does not entail interpreting administrative waste boundaries in such a manner as to inhibit the development of infrastructure which will support the attainment of national waste policy objectives. This guidance is intended to provide greater clarity in regard to the appropriate application of the proximity principle so as to facilitate the provision of environmentally sustainable and economically viable waste infrastructure in accordance with national policy. I am advised that this guidance has been well received by both the public and private stakeholders.