Illegal waste from Republic heads back over the border
The massive multi-million pound cross-border operation to remove 250,000 tonnes of waste dumped illegally in Northern Ireland begins today.
A team of 30-tonne trucks is due to start leaving the site in Slattinagh, near Garrison, Co Fermanagh, this morning.
The rotting household waste will be transferred to an approved landfill facility in Ballynacarrick Landfill, Co Donegal, in a project expected to last for weeks.
After the site is cleared work will begin on removing around 10,000 tonnes of waste at a second site located near Trillick, Co Tyrone.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has described it as “a long and complicated operation”.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots said they are dealing with the “legacy from 10 years ago” when illegal disposal of waste from the Republic was taking place on a large scale.
The £1.65m bill to clear the two sites in the province, however, is expected to soar to around £30m by the time work is completed.
Twenty sites in Northern Ireland, believed to have been used for illegal cross-border dumping between 2002 and 2004, have to be cleared.
The repatriation process follows a 2007 agreement between the two jurisdictions and a further resolution in June 2009 which agreed measures for dealing with sites containing waste from the Republic.
Five people — including four landlords — have been prosecuted and the DoE said it has resulted in £1.6m in fines and £1.5m in confiscations by the Assets Recovery Agency.
All disposal costs of the rubbish, believed to be from Cork and Wexford, will be met by the Republic’s government.
Northern Ireland taxpayers will pay for 20% of the costs of site works and transport of the waste.
But the DoE was unable to give an exact figure for the cost of the overall operation.
It is understood factors such as bad weather or finding hazardous waste could add to the cost.
Mr Poots, however, warned there is “no hiding place” for those involved in the illegal dumping of waste in Northern Ireland.
John McMillen, chief executive of NIEA, said: “This project marks the beginning of a long and complicated operation that will require careful planning and management. The efforts of NIEA officials and their Dublin City Council colleagues are now paying off as the waste begins to move.”
Anne Blacker, head of NIEA’s Environmental Crime Unit, said: “The sight of lorries full of waste being removed represents the culmination of a great deal of planning and teamwork.”