Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Waste Disposal Sites.

Liam Kavanagh

Question:

10 Mr. Kavanagh asked the Minister for the Environment if, arising out of a reply which he gave to a recent parliamentary question, he considers it necessary or appropriate for the Government, at national level through his Department, to establish a national register of waste disposal sites complete with a system of identification, classification, standards of operation and a system of monitoring; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Detailed guidelines have been given to local authorities on site selection and operational criteria for landfill disposal but there is no provision at present for a national register on the lines suggested by the Deputy. It is envisaged, however, that the Environmental Protection Agency will have functions in relation to waste disposal sites and I will consider whether the establishment of a register of the kind proposed would be appropriate in this connection.

The Minister for the Environment is in charge of the Department of the Environment. Is the Minister proposing that responsibility for waste disposal dumps and maintaining a register of them will be hived off to the not yet existent Environmental Protection Agency?

I have issued very specific and clear guidelines on all aspects of waste management planning, including the provision of disposal facilities, to authorities. The agency could have a responsibility for monitoring compliance with the standards which are being created and finalised by the European Community. If a register is required then we will compile one.

Does the Minister not think that it would be advisable and helpful for the Department of the Environment to have a register of waste disposal sites so that they could respond to an inquiry perhaps from the IDA on behalf of an industrialist who may be seeking to establish in this country? This would facilitate that industry, or the IDA on behalf of that industry, in making a final choice of location on the grounds that it may need to have reasonable access to a properly managed and monitored site. Does the Minister not think that having a national register — which would simply mean his vast array of staff contacting 32 local authorities — might be of some benefit to the nation at large?

I am sure the people listening to us over the monitors would not agree that I have a vast array of staff. Local authorities have done a lot over the past few years in so far as centralising dumps and improving their facilities are concerned. As the Deputy rightly said, each local authority has a list of recognised landfill sites. I will consider what the Deputy has said.

In view of the fact that we have spent a lot of time today discussing waste disposal, will the Minister indicate whether he has any plans to publish or bring forward a comprehensive Government policy on waste management?

Our last EC Council meeting was successful in that our Presidency proposal on the strategy for waste disposal generally throughout the Community was accepted.

When are we going to have a waste disposal policy for this country?

As a result of that meeting, standards for disposal in landfills are being drawn up at present by the EC. These standards will apply right across the Community and I am satisfied that we will be in a position to comply with them.