£1.5m to aid fuel laundering drive
An extra £1.5 million is to be spent on new surveillance equipment and additional staff as part of a heightened offensive against criminals involved in fuel laundering in Northern Ireland.
The additional money is also going towards buying specialist vehicles and surveying equipment and more resources to investigate financial affairs of the men suspected of involvement in illegal dumping of waste.
Environment minister Alex Attwood said efforts had to be multiplied to face down organised environmental crime on the island of Ireland.
He said: "Protection of our clean and green environment is one side of a coin. The other side is the enforcement to make sure this happens.
"That means more people on the ground, visiting sites, more people checking where waste starts and where it ends up, investigating the hauliers using illegal fuel, investigating their financial practices and their computer records. This additional funding will ensure that can now happen."
The money was secured by the minister in the June monitoring round after the Stormont Executive acknowledged the need and agreed to his request.
Last month his department closed down a plant after hundreds of thousands of tons of waste were discovered near Derry.
Mr Attwood added: "It is my firm belief that government, the police and crime agencies must escalate further their response to organised crime. This money is a good step but one of many that need to follow. Criminals and organised crime need to know we are going to come for them. The £1.5 million will help."