Thursday 25 October 2007

EPA waste tip-off phoneline receives 2,184 calls

The Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘Dump the Dumpers’ phoneline had 2,184 calls in its first year of operation, the agency said yesterday.

Fly-tipping and burning of waste accounted for 75% of the calls received, with 522 complaints made in Dublin, 349 in Wicklow and 266 in Cork.

The phoneline — 1850 365 121 — was made operational on June 28, 2006, initially for a six-month period in response to the high levels of waste being dumped around the country, particularly in Border areas. Large amounts were also being transported into the North. That upsurge was blamed on the increase in the cost of legal dumping in this country.

When it was found to be so successful, the scheme was extended beyond the six-month period.

The results for the phoneline were announced ahead of the EPA’s fourth annual environmental enforcement network waste conference, which began in Wexford yesterday and continues today.

Enforcement officers will review the results of action taken against illegal operators over the past year and decide the next move against illegal waste activities.

The EPA said the numbers of inspections doubled to more than 32,000 in 2006, carried out by 317 staff from 34 local authorities.

It said the types of enforcement undertaken by local authorities had changed radically in recent years, with the likes of Cork County Council using a helicopter survey to identify 60 unauthorised car scrapyards which were subsequently inspected.

Of those sites, 40% have either closed or are closing and more are upgrading their facilities to appropriate standards. Enforcement action is planned against a number of facilities.

Other case studies detail sting operations against illegal collectors of waste and against those burning waste. Kilkenny County Council secured a landfill levy of €170,000 in respect of an unauthorised landfilling activity.

Elsewhere, the EPA in taking part in major investigations into illegal sites in North which are being filled by southern operators.

Authorities on both sides of the Border are co-operating and sharing intelligence.

Lines of enquiry are being followed and investigators in the Republic are examining the suspected producers, collectors and transporters of the waste.

Enforcement officers dealing with illegal waste activities are meeting in Wexford today and tomorrow. They will review the results of enforcement action taken against illegal operators over the past year and decide the next offensive against illegal waste activities.

Dara Lynott, director of the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) in the EPA, & said problems are being tackled but added there was no room for complacency. He said challenges — such as increased illegal collection, fly tipping of waste and poor management of construction and demolition waste — remain serious areas of concern.

Irish Examiner

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