Republic of Ireland's illegal waste sent back
Thousands of tonnes of waste illegally dumped in Northern Ireland has begun the transfer back to the Republic of Ireland.
Work began yesterday to transfer around 10,500 tonnes of rubbish across the border.
The process, which is expected to take up to 10 weeks, will transfer the waste from its current site beside a GAA pitch in Ballymartin, Co Down, to an authorised landfill site in Co Louth.
It is believed the sites were used for illegal cross-border dumping between 2002 and 2004. The movement of waste from Northern Ireland to the Republic is part of a wider operation which began in August 2010 at the first site in Slattinagh, Co Fermanagh. A second site in Trillick, Co Tyrone, was emptied in October 2010.
There is believed to be around 250,000 tonnes of waste in total across a further 14 sites.
Northern Ireland's taxpayers will contribute 20% towards the costs of site works and transport of the waste, with all disposal costs being met by the Republic. The total cost could be £30m.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said it was important a key source of pollution in Northern Ireland was removed "as quickly as possible".
"I welcome the fact that illegally deposited waste has started to be removed from another site. I am in ongoing contact with my counterpart in the Republic of Ireland, Phil Hogan, over this issue. I want the whole process to be completed as quickly as possible.
"What I and DoE are about is making Northern Ireland a better place to live, work and invest, and the less illegally deposited waste the better."
He added the entire clear-up will take "a number of years".