Thursday 19 July 2007

Illegal waste lagoons still in operation after ban

ILLEGAL waste lagoons which the European Court ordered closed 27 months ago are still in operation.

Last January the owner of the land gave a court undertaking to Cork County Council that he would resolve the situation within three months but, as yet, has not fulfilled the commitment.

Angry residents living near the site said yesterday that they will take a civil court action if Cork County Council doesn’t act rapidly to force their total closure.

The Valley Residents’ Association, which has fought a 16-year campaign against the lagoons at Ballard, Araglin, say they are running out of patience with the local authority’s lack of enforcement against the landowner, Michael Hyland.

The lagoons were created on Mr Hyland’s land by a company, Greenfield Environmental Ltd, which has since ceased trading. When operational, the lagoons contained animal and dairy byproducts.

The lagoons have still not been filled in, despite a European Court ruling in April 2005 which ordered the site to be eradicated.

On January 30 last, the county council took Mr Hyland to Mitchelstown District Court in relation to non-compliance with notices issued under Section 12 and Section 23 of the Water Pollution Act.

On that date, Mr Hyland gave an undertaking to the court to carry out certain works within three months.

A spokesman for the county council said that its officials subsequently met with consultants acting on behalf of Michael Hyland on a number of occasions.

Clean-up work then commenced on the site on May 10, but last Thursday officials from the council’s enforcement section made another inspection at Ballard and confirmed that the works Mr Hyland had given commitments to carry out were not complete.

Council officials were set to enter the site again yesterday.

“We propose to re-sample the lagoons to determine the most appropriate means to resolve this long standing matter,” a council spokesman said. However, angry local residents say it is taking far too long to resolve the situation, especially as the European Court ruling was handed down nearly 27 months ago.

Valley Residents’ Association spokesman, Bob Allen, said it was high time that the council ensured the lagoons were emptied and filled in.

“It’s a fright Cork County Council can’t get this sorted out. We are prepared to take a private court action if we have to, to ensure this is resolved. This battle has cost local people thousands of euro already and they won’t be found wanting. We’ve made up our minds, we won’t let this drag on,” Mr Allen said.

The association, which has hundreds of members in Kilworth, Araglin and Ballygiblin, has raised fears about possible contamination of the public water supply.

MEP Kathy Sinnott recently asked EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to investigate why Ireland had not carried out the European Court ruling of April 2005.

Irish Examiner

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