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GORMLEY ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT WITH NORTHERN IRELAND ON REPATRIATION OF WASTE

Press release June 12, 2009 Energy & Environment

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. John Gormley T.D. today (12/6/2009) announced that agreement had been reached with Northern Ireland to repatriate waste which originated in the Republic but which was illegally disposed of in Northern Ireland in the early part of this decade.

The Minister said: "We are dealing with a legacy issue going back to a time when a great deal of illegal waste activity took place in both jurisdictions and we must now, given our responsibilities under EU waste shipments legislation, bring the waste back for proper disposal." 

"I welcome that significant progress has been made in dealing comprehensively with this issue. It shows that cross border cooperation between the relevant agencies in both jurisdictions is essential to the protection of our environment, and the pursuit of environmental
crime."

The framework agreement reached provides a template for dealing with this historical legacy issue and initially two sites will be dealt with involving some 14,000 tons of waste. The framework itself derives from a "road map" agreed by both jurisdictions in relation to co-operation in dealing with illegal waste movements, both current and historical, which was endorsed by Ministers from both jurisdictions in October 2007 and by the EU Commision.
Under the agreement the costs of disposing of the waste will be met by the Irish Government together with 80% of the costs of removing the waste from Northern Ireland. The Minister thanked the Northern Ireland authorities for agreeing to make a contribution to the removal costs. 

The Minister said that the agreement, building on the road map, underpinned the high level of co-operation between Ireland and Northern Ireland in dealing with illegal activity and ensuring the implementation of the "polluter pays" principle and bringing to justice those who
caused the illegal deposition.   

The Minister added: "We intend that the initial sites will be dealt with as quickly as possible and we hope the excavations will provide further evidence to help us pursue those responsible for this environmental crime. Local authorities, the EPA and the Garda continue to work closely together on bringing those responsible for this to account. I am confident these investigations will lead to successful prosecutions. In addition, enforcement staff from both jurisdictions are working closely together to enhance capacity to deal with any future attempted Cross Border illegal movement of waste." Notes for editors

 
1. The framework agreement has been developed by officials from both Departments of the Environment and has been approved by Ministers Gormley and Wilson.
2. The agreement relates, in the first instance, to two sites identified by Northern Ireland as being the priority. These are at Slattinagh, Co. Fermanagh and near Trillick, Co. Tyrone. The agreement will also form the basis for action in respect of another 18 suspect sites.

3. Under the framework agreement Dublin City Council, as the Irish competent authority, will be responsible for procuring a contract or contracts for the excavation, examination and removal of the waste and the remediation of the site afterwards.  This will be done in consultation with the NI competent authority, the NIEA. Both competent authorities will oversee the agreed excavation work each site and will cooperate to ensure that the environment is protected during works. The waste and any contaminated sub-strata will be removed and disposed of in
Ireland.   
4. The procurement process, carried out under EU rules, is likely to
take some months.   It is hoped that the work could commence on site
shortly after the main contract has been awarded, which is likely to be
in the autumn.  
Under the agreement Northern Ireland will contribute 20% of the costs of excavation, examination and removal of the waste and the remediation of the site. The remaining costs including the full cost of disposal will be met by Ireland.
 
An initial estimate of costs for the first two sites is in the region of 3m for Ireland. More accurate figures will be available when the tendering process is completed.
 
Criminal prosecutions are expected as a result of on-going investigations in Ireland in relation to the illegal waste deposition.
Further evidence gathered during the excavation can be anticipated also.
 
 
In Northern Ireland the NIEA is actively targeting those involved in illegal dumping via a dedicated Environmental Crime Team. Of the prosecutions taken to date, over 70 cases have involved waste from Ireland. This has resulted in a number of fines, and in 4 cases prison sentences, being imposed on landowners allowing Irish waste to be dumped on their land.  Cases are still ongoing.
 
The NIEA estimates that up to 250,000 tonnes of municipal and commercial waste from Ireland was illegally deposited at 20 sites in Northern Ireland between October 2002 and the end of 2004.

Contacts


Sean Dunne

Press-Office
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
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