Between 2002 and 2004 some 250,000 tonnes of Irish domestic and commercial waste is believed to have been illegally dumped at 20 identified sites in Northern Ireland. To avoid large fines from the European commission, Environment Ministers from both sides of the border have agreed to “repatriate” the waste over a 5-year period to the Republic. More than 70 prosecutions involving the illegal dumping of waste from the South have already been taken by the Northern Ireland authorities, 4 landowners have received prison sentences for allowing Irish waste to be dumped on their lands and fines totaling about £800,000 (€965,000) have also been imposed.
While we are now taking responsibility, how did we allow the illegal dumping happen in the first place? Minister for Environment John Gormley said “the enforcement regime was not as “robust” as it was now” - while that may be true it seems that illegal dumping or “fly tipping” as its more commonly known, in the south by individuals is more prevalent than ever.
Some remote rural and scenic countryside areas are still being used as rubbish tips by proactive “fly tippers”. However “in this day and age” there is no need for illegal dumping! Under the Waste Management Act, (1996), all local authorities in Ireland are obliged to collect or arrange for the collection of the domestic waste in their area – the collection charge is usually quite low, for example €20 per month. Not only that but a large percentage of your domestic household waste is recyclable and some local councils also provide a collection for recyclable material. Most, if not all councils provide local bring centres or recycle collection points where you can recycle glass, aluminum cans, plastic and newspaper for FREE. What many people do not know is that you can also recycle bigger household items AND electrical goods at the local bring centres such as; beds, wardrobes, computers, televisions, videos, washing machines, fridges, toasters etc. and hazardous items including batteries, fluorescent lighting tubes, etc.
Many counties now have waste enforcement teams that practice zero-tolerance on illegal dumpers. If caught, the maximum sanctions are as outlined in the Waste Management Act, which, depending on the offence, can be up to €3,000 fines and/or 12 months imprisonment - there is an on the spot fine of €150.
To report illegal dumping, call the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 24-hour hotline on 1850-365121. Or check out your local councils website where you can contact them directly about illegal dumping in your area. – Also if a complaint requests anonymity, their details will not be divulged.