Decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year requiring the removal of all polluting material from two sites in Co Wicklow "should bring to a close a shameful episode of illegal dumping in Ireland", according to its director general.
Dr Mary Kelly said the EPA's decisions in relation to illegal dumps on lands owned by Roadstone Dublin Ltd, near Blessington, and Brownfield
Restoration Ltd, at Whitestown, "should send a clear message to those involved in illegal waste disposal practices".
In the agency's annual highlights report for 2006, issued yesterday, she said enhanced powers given to the EPA under the Protection of the Environment Act for "tackling environmental crime" had been used to good effect by its Office of Environmental Enforcement.
Three licensees were convicted in the Circuit Court and a further 15 were prosecuted in the District Courts. "Those convicted have committed substantial investments - up to €4 million in some cases - to carry out environmental improvements at their facilities."
In December, the High Court ruled in favour of the EPA in two judicial review cases. The cases related to decisions to grant waste licences for landfills at Kilcullen, Co Kildare, and Grangemockler, Co Tipperary. Judgment in both cases upheld the agency's decisions.
The EPA also issued two legally-binding directions during 2006 requiring local authorities to take immediate action in areas where an imminent risk of significant environmental pollution had been identified. Both issues were resolved satisfactorily, Dr Kelly said.
A total of 173 investigations were carried out on foot of 499 complaints made to the EPA about activities that were the responsibility of local authorities. The majority of these complaints related to either waste management or water management issues.
As a result of these investigations, seven directions were issued to Louth, Leitrim, Kildare, Sligo, Roscommon, Galway and Kilkenny county councils, while 92 advice and recommendation notices on environmental complaints were issued to other local authorities.
© 2007 The Irish Times