Waste Management Bill, 1995: From the Seanad.

The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 1:

Section 4: In page 9, lines 28 to 38, subsection (2) (a) deleted and the following substituted:

"(2) (a) In this Act, `hazardous waste' means—

(i) hazardous waste for the time being mentioned in the list prepared pursuant to Article 1 (4) of Council Directive 91/689/EEC of 12 December, 1991, being either—

(I) Category I waste that has any of the properties specified in Part III of the Second Schedule, or

(II) Category II waste that—

(A) contains any of the constituents specified in Part II of the Second Schedule, and

(B) has any of the properties specified in Part III of the said Schedule,

(ii) such other waste, having any of the properties specified in Part III of the Second Schedule, as may be prescribed for the purposes of this definition.".

I am glad to be on what I hope is the final lap of this long debate on one of the most important items of environmental legislation introduced into these Houses; I am glad to have steered it for many months.

This amendment provides for a revised definition of "hazardous waste" to bring it more fully in line with the European Union definition of "hazardous waste". It was brought forward in response to views submitted by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation which expressed concern that the existing definition was significantly broader in its scope than the definition provided for under European law.

The European definition is intended to serve as a common basic definition for "hazardous waste" for all member states of the European Union. The proposed new definition provides essentially that "hazardous waste" under the Bill means hazardous waste for the time being mentioned in the hazardous waste list adopted by the European Union under Article 1 (4) of Council Directive 91/689/EEC of 12 December 1991 on hazardous waste, and any other such hazardous waste having any of the hazardous properties specified in Part III of the Second Schedule which may be prescribed by the Minister.

It is a requirement now to harmonise definitions across the European Union so that both business, the consumer and the general public know exactly what we mean when we use phrases like "hazardous waste". I am anxious that this amendment, which would reflect a common European view, be represented in this Bill.

I, too, am delighted we are on the final lap of this comprehensive legislation which is long overdue but very welcome. I congratulate the officials in the Department for all the work they put into it in the past few years. Listening to a radio programme yesterday, I heard a gentleman complaining about the lack of policy on waste management; he said Ireland did not have any comprehensive waste management policy. That person is obviously not aware of the work and effort politicians and officials have put into the preparation of this legislation. Our message does not seem to be getting across to the general public but I have no doubt this Bill will be a landmark in environmental legislation. We support this amendment and thank IBEC for the comprehensive briefing documents it provided since this legislation was first proposed. IBEC has been very balanced in much of the detail it put forward.

On behalf of my party I support this practical amendment. It is important that we be specific in our definitions. When we debated the Bill in Committee a number of Members tried to put forward amendments that would help to make these matters more specific, but clearly the input from IBEC finally convinced the Minister of the need to be more specific in our definitions. I, too, thank IBEC for the time and expertise it put into studying the provisions of the Bill and for its recommendations in regard to how it can be improved and made more suited to Irish conditions.

When this Bill becomes law and when we seek to enforce its provisions, it will be helpful for us to have the support of IBEC. We go forward now with the knowledge that the proposals we make as legislators have the support of IBEC who agree that it is possible to put these provisions into practice. That is a very good starting point for any new legislation. This is fundamentally important legislation for the social, economic and cultural well-being of this country in the years ahead and it is vital, therefore, to have this level of active support from IBEC.

Question put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 2 is consequential on amendments Nos. 18 and 19. Amendment No. 8 is related and Nos. 9 and 10 are consequential on No. 8. It is suggested, therefore, that amendments Nos. 2, 8, 9, 10, 18 and 19 be taken together. Is that satisfactory? Agreed.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 2:

Section 5: In page 15, subsection (1), lines 1 and 2 deleted, and the following substituted:

"‘vehicle' includes—

(a) part of a vehicle,

(b) an article designed as a vehicle but not capable of functioning as a vehicle,

(c) a skip designed or used for carriage on a vehicle,

(d) a load on a vehicle;".

Deputies will recall I promised this House that I would examine in some detail the law on abandoned vehicles to encompass the disposal of such vehicles within the ambit of the Bill. We have been working on that since the Bill passed all Stages here and moved to the Seanad. We have a number of amendments — with which we are dealing as a group — to deal with this issue. The effect of the amendments is to strengthen the law in relation to abandoned vehicles. These amendments will repeal the existing provisions of the Litter Act, 1982, in relation to abandoned vehicles, insert a new section in this Bill to deal with the matter and introduce certain related provisions.

The proposed new section 71 represents a re-enaction and strengthening of the existing provisions of sections 10 to 13 of the Litter Act. For the purpose of clarity it is best if the amendments are dealt with here in discussion in two groups. The substantive amendments are Nos. 2, 18 and 19. Amendment No. 18 is the principal amendment, it proposes to add a new section 71 to the Bill regarding abandoned vehicles. Sections 9 and 13 of the Litter Act, 1982, deal specifically with abandoned vehicles. It is evident that there is considerable overlap between these provisions and certain provisions that are already part of the Waste Management Bill. It is more appropriate, in present circumstances, that matters relating to abandoned vehicles are incorporated fully in this Bill rather than being dealt with separately in disparate pieces of legislation. Accordingly, it is now proposed to update and strengthen our legislative controls on abandoned vehicles in the context of this comprehensive Bill.

The new section 71 would strengthen the existing provisions in the Litter Act as follows: higher penalties specified in section 10 of the Bill would also apply to offence in relation to abandoned vehicles, the weaker provisions in the Litter Act where the maximum prosecution fine on summary conviction is £800 would be repealed and come under the ambit of the penalties to be imposed under section 10 of the Bill. Under this provision local authorities may remove abandoned vehicles from land without the consent of its occupier and without giving notice of entry on land except in the case of a private dwelling where 24 hours' notice is specified under these provisions. At present, the Litter Act requires the consent of the occupier or 14 days' notice to the occupier before such vehicles can be removed by a local authority.

Amendment No. 19 proposes to repeal sections 9 to 13 of the Litter Act which deal with abandoned vehicles so that they can be transposed more effectively and strengthened in this provision.

Amendment No. 2 proposes to amend the definition of "vehicle" in section 5. This amendment is consequential on the proposed insertion of the new section 71. The existing definition of the word "vehicle" would be replaced with a more extensive definition outlined in the Litter Act. It now includes part of a vehicle, a load on a vehicle, any such vehicle that is no longer capable of functioning, for example, a hulk or a wrecked vehicle. They will be encompassed and subject to the provisions of the new subsection.

The remaining three amendments are related. Amendment No. 8 proposes to re-enact section 9 (1) of the Litter Act which is being repealed. The amendment would insert a new subsection 38 (3) to require a local authority to provide or arrange for the provision of such facilities as appear to be necessary and reasonable at which vehicles may be discarded. The proposed amendment would maintain the existing requirement on all local authorities to provide facilities for the reception of abandoned vehicles. Amendment No. 9 provides that the power available to local authorities under the existing subsection (3) to enter an agreement or joint agreement with other local authorities or other persons, shall also apply to the provision of facilities for discarded vehicles. It can be done on a composite basis between adjoining local authorities or between local authorities and private operators.

Amendment No. 10 provides that for the purposes of the proposed new subsection 38 (3), local authority includes a non-county borough corporation and an urban district council. Urban district councils borough councils and county councils would all have a statutory duty to have a facility to receive abandoned vehicles.

I welcome these amendments. Abandoned vehicles are a nuisance in Dublin city and in other parts of the country and I am pleased higher penalties are being imposed. When one is trying to have a vehicle removed, local authorities say it cannot be done, for different reasons. In the case of abandoned vehicles which have registration plates the position is that local authorities will not remove such a vehicle unless enormous pressure is applied. Is that still the case, even with these amendments?

The new provision will enable a local authority to simply move in on a property and take an abandoned vehicle. The law on registration is a separate matter. Obviously when a vehicle is changing ownership there is a legal requirement in existing law that the local licensing authority, the local county council, would be notified. The number plate which may or may not be attached to the vehicle would not affect it in terms of whether it is regarded as litter or waste under these provisions.

This is a worthwhile and substantial amendment. Abandoned vehicles constitute a major blemish on our landscape and very often a large number of them are dumped in scenic areas where the population is dependent on tourism for its economic survival and jobs for themselves and their children. Nonetheless these people can be casual and careless about dealing with or tolerating abandoned vehicles. I compliment the Minister, in the context of this Bill, for seeking to systematically strengthen and update the law in dealing with abandoned vehicles as the Litter Act has failed in this respect. If the litter law had not failed the situation would have been allowed to develop to the point where abandoned vehicles are peppered around the countryside and a blemish on it. The single most frequent complaint from tourists at the end of a holiday is not about the quality of the food, transport or service but about litter. Certainly abandoned vehicles are a huge component of the overall litter problem.

I am extremely pleased the Minister has decided to put that issue in this legislation which deals with solid waste instead of leaving it to be dealt with under a Litter Act that is proving ineffective. He has the total support of my party. It is important that the operation of this provision is monitored and that we have in place a law which is a clear definition of what constitutes an abandoned vehicle. Time out of number I complained about abandoned vehicles only to be told that because there was a loophole in the law it was not possible to deal with the matter. Now we will have a new law in place. It is important that it is sufficiently tight and that the definition and the powers are sufficiently defined to enable local authorities to deal swiftly and effectively with abandoned vehicles and that the right to do so will be put beyond aye or nay.

It is important to monitor how this is being implemented. I would be encouraged if I thought we had a law that worked effectively and which would rid our country, once and for all, of the scourge of abandoned vehicles.

Nowadays, since Deputies are used to dealing predominantly with Report Stage in the House where they can speak only once, I remind them that we are dealing with Seanad amendments in Committee format and, therefore, that Deputies may speak more than once.

The Chair should not encourage the Deputies. The word "abandoned" includes a vehicle left in such circumstances or for such period that it is reasonable to assume it has been abandoned and cognate words shall be construed accordingly. Under section 8 local authorities are indemnified against anything done in good faith and without negligence in the course of the removal of such vehicles. Therefore, if it is reasonable to assume that a vehicle is abandoned, a person could not take an action against a local authority for removing it. The definition and indemnity provisions are clear in that regard.

We also dealt with a number of the anomalies to which Deputy Quill referred regarding the existing provisions of the law. Local authorities had to serve 14 days notice on the owner of the land before removing a vehicle. We are providing them with a new armoury of powers to preserve a pristine environment and remove abandoned vehicles and rusted hulks from our countryside. We want to insert a provision that deals effectively with the removal of abandoned vehicles and that has been achieved in the amendments under discussion.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 3:

Section 14: In page 20, subsection 6 (c), line 37, after "which", "to his or her knowledge" inserted.

This is a simple technical amendment for the purpose of consistency with similar provisions throughout the Bill. The relevant provision, as amended, would read, "Any person who gives either to an authorised person, a relevant local authority or the Agency, information which to his or her knowledge is false or misleading in a material respect shall be guilty of an offence".

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 4:

Section 21: In page 26, subsection (3), line 18, "district" deleted, and "district," substituted.

This amendment has been proposed by our astute colleagues in the Seanad.

If I had doubts about the usefulness of the Seanad they are dispelled. I support this amendment which states that a comma should be inserted at that point.

The Seanad will be delighted at the Progressive Democrats change of policy.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 5:

Section 28: In page 35, subsection (1), line 4, after "assistance", "and support" inserted.

This is a drafting amendment for the purpose of achieving consistency with the earlier reference in the subsection to assistance for research and development. It simply proposes to transpose the word "assistance" for the sake of consistency.

Question put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 6 is also a drafting amendment and No. 12 is cognate. I suggest, therefore, that amendments Nos. 6 and 12 be taken together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 6:

Section 34: In page 47, subsection 5 (b), line 13, "who" deleted, and "whom" substituted.

Our astute colleagues in the Seanad correctly propose that the word "who" should read "whom" in this subsection. Similarly, in page 58, subsection (9), line 42 it is proposed to substitute the word "whom" for the word "who".

Question put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 7 is consequential on amendment No. 11. I suggest, therefore, that we take amendments Nos. 7 and 11 together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 7:

Section 38: In page 53, subsection (2), the words from and including "in accordance" in line 8 down to and including "deposited" in line 11 deleted.

The purpose of these amendments is to insert a new subsection (10) into section 38 to enable a local authority to specify conditions which shall apply to the discarding or deposit of waste at facilities provided by local authorities. Amendment No. 11 proposes to insert a new subsection (10) in section 38. Amendment No. 7 is a consequential amendment to section 38 (2) (a). The net effect of these amendments is to provide for proper control over the deposit or discarding of waste by the public at all waste management facilities provided by local authorities. It is possible at present to determine where different categories of waste will be deposited. For example, local authorities can specify that tyres must be deposited at a certain site and domestic refuse at another site. This amendment extends that provision to all waste management facilities run by local authorities. For example, a local authority may specify that Christmas trees must be disposed of in a certain location. The provision merely broadens the general discretion of local authorities to specify where waste can be disposed of at reception facilities.

This is a worthwhile amendment and something which I did not think of on Committee Stage. As it will put in place better management procedures, I support it.

I, too, support the amendment. Many dumping sites are badly managed. While in some countries landfill sites are not managed as well as here, in others they are managed in a much superior manner. Landfill sites might not have a bad reputation if they were managed in a proper fashion.

There is a great deal of disquiet about some reception points. For example, many bottle banks are allowed to overflow and instead of presenting an environmentally clean recycling image, they are eyesores. This provision will provide the necessary powers to deal with such matters.

The recycling of glass has become very popular. I receive many complaints about the level of noise emitted by people throwing glass into recycling containers. This may appear to be a minor problem but that is not the case for those living near bottle banks, particularly as some people prefer to recycle their glass late at night. It may not be necessary to deal with this in legislation, but perhaps the Minister could examine the type of containers used for recycling glass.

Under these provisions a local authority may specify the operating hours of such facilities. Subsection (10) (a) of amendment No. 11 proposes that a person shall not deposit or discard waste at a facility provided by a local authority under this section otherwise than in accordance with any conditions for the time being specified by the local authority as respects the nature, type and quantity of waste that may be so deposited or discarded or the use otherwise of such a facility. The local authority can specify the type of waste and other conditions it deems appropriate for its operation and use.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 8:

Section 38: In page 53, between lines 16 and 17, the following new subsection inserted:

"(3) Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (2), a local authority, having made an examination of the matter, shall provide, or arrange for the provision of, such facility or facilities as appears or appear to it to be necessary and reasonable at which vehicles may be discarded.".

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 9:

Section 38: In page 53, subsection (3), line 17, "(1) and (2)" deleted, and "(1), (2) and (3)" substituted.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 10:

Section 38: In page 54, subsection (8), lines 1 and 2, after "paragraph (b) (iii),""and subsection (3)," inserted.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 11:

Section 38: In page 54, between lines 5 and 6, the following new subsection inserted:

"(10) (a) A person shall not deposit or discard waste at a facility provided by a local authority under this section otherwise than in accordance with any conditions for the time being standing specified by the local authority as respects the nature, type and quantity of waste that may be so deposited or discarded or the use otherwise of such a facility.

(b) A local authority shall take such steps as are reasonable to bring to the notice of members of the public any conditions for the time being standing specified by it for the purpose of paragraph (a).

(c) A person who contravenes paragraph (a) shall be guilty of an offence.

(d) Subject to paragraph (e), waste deposited or discarded at a facility provided by a local authority under this section shall become the property of the authority.

(e) Without prejudice to paragraph (c), where a person deposits or discards waste in contravention of paragraph (a)—

(i) the waste shall not become the property of the local authority concerned unless it decides to assume ownership of the waste.

(ii) any expenses incurred by the local authority concerned in recovering or disposing, or arranging for the recovery or disposal, of the waste shall be recoverable by it from the person as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.".

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 12:

Section 40: In page 58, subsection (9), line 42, "who" deleted and "whom" substituted.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 13:

Section 52: In page 75, line 30, "was" deleted and "were" substituted.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 14:

Section 59: In page 82, subsection (1), line 27, "by persons" deleted.

This is a technical amendment intended to clarify the text by removing possible ambiguities. As the section stood, it could have been misinterpreted as applying only to persons resident in the functional area. That is not the intent of the section. It refers to section 59 (1), which I will read for the sake of clarity:

Each local authority shall, save in a particular case where a provision of this Act provides to the contrary, be responsible for the supervision of, and the enforcement of the relevant provisions of this Act in relation to, the holding, recovery and disposal of waste by persons within its functional area.

I queried this because it occured to me that the waste could be held in the functional area but the person might not be. For the sake of clarity it is intended to delete "by persons" so that, irrespective of the residence of "the persons", the local authority will always be responsible for waste within its functional area.

This is a practical and useful amendment and I will certainly give it my support.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 15:

Section 61: In page 84, between lines 3 and 4, the following new subsection inserted:

"(4) An order under subsection (3) shall not take effect until the ordinary time for instituting an appeal against the conviction or order concerned has expired or, where such an appeal is instituted, until it or any further appeal is finally decided or abandoned or the ordinary time for instituting any further appeal has expired.".

This section deals with court orders for the forfeiture of vehicles used in committing an offence. It simply means that the forfeiture of the vehicle would not take effect until any appeal mechanism open to the individual who is convicted under the law has expired. It just extends natural justice to anybody convicted so that the penalty will not apply until such time as his rights to appeal have expired.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 16:

Section 65: In page 85, between lines 34 and 35, the following paragraph inserted:

"(c) the insertion in section 83, after subsection (3), of the following subsection:

‘(3A) Section 53 of theWaste Management Act, 1996, shall apply in relation to a licence or revised licence under this Part, with the substitution for references in that section to the grant or review of a waste licence of references to the grant or review of a licence or revised licence under this Part and with any other necessary modifications.’”.

This amendment proposes to insert a new subsection (3A) into section 83 of the Environmental Protection Act, 1992. The import of the amendment is to provide that section 53 of the Waste Management Act shall apply in the grant or review of a licence or revised licence under Part VI of the 1992 Act. This will allow the Environmental Protection Agency to satisfy itself regarding the ability of an applicant or holder of an IPC licence under the Environmental Protection Agency Act to meet the financial commitment and other possible liabilities arising with compliance with the licence provided. It will also allow the agency to require appropriate financial provision to be made for the purpose. Such financial provision may include a bonding arrangement or other form of financial security. The Deputies and others were anxious on Committee Stage that in terms of issuing waste licences there would be clear indemnities, clear bonding and a clear financial capacity to deal with any pollution that might arise from the holding of such a licence and that we would not have people abandoning a project when they went broke as happened in unfinished housing estates. We have done that very effectively in waste licensing. I suggest that we take the opportunity to extend that to existing IPC licensing under the 1992 Act. It was not done then but we should reflect the strong views put to me on waste licensing in IPC licensing as well. That is the purpose of this amendment.

This was discussed at length on Committee Stage. I am delighted the Minister is extending the powers.

I am suitably humbled because the Minister has been more impressed by the good grammar from the Upper House than by the long arguments put forward by the Members of the Lower House on Committee Stage. What is put in place in the context of this amendment was argued at length and a very strong case put forward on Committee Stage. We did not manage to convince the Minister but I am glad his visit to the Upper House has led to him being really convinced now. It is an extremely good amendment and essential if the objectives of this Bill are to be fully met.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 17:

Section 66: In page 86, between lines 38 and 39, the following new sections inserted:

"(2) Section 3 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, is hereby amended by the substitution for subsection (3) (inserted by the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act, 1990) of the following subsection:

‘(3) It shall be a defence to a charge of committing an offence under this section for the accused to prove that he took all reasonable care to prevent the entry to waters to which the charge relates by providing, maintaining, using, operating and supervising facilities, or by employing practices or methods of operation, that were suitable for the purpose of such prevention, and, where appropriate, that the entry to waters to which the charge relates arose from an activity carried on in accordance with a nutrient management plan approved under section 21A (inserted by the Waste Management Act, 1996) of the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act, 1990.'

(3) The Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act, 1990, is hereby amended by the insertion of the following section after section 21:

21A.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), whenever a local authority considers that, for the purposes of preventing, eliminating or minimising the entry of polluting matter to waters from an activity referred to in section 21 (1) (b) (being an activity that is carried on in its functional area) it is necessary to do so, it may serve a notice in writing under this section on—

(a) the owner of the land on which the activity is carried on, or

(b) if the owner of the said land is not in occupation thereof, the person who is in occupation of the said land, requiring the person to prepare and furnish to it for its approval under this section a plan (in this section referred to as a "nutrient management plan") in relation to the activity within a specified period, being a period of not less than 5 months beginning on the date of service of the notice.

(2) A notice under subsection (1) shall not be served on a person in relation to an activity the carrying on of which requires the grant of a licence under Part IV of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992.

(3) Before a local authority decides to exercise the power conferred by subsection (1), (whether generally as respects activities referred to in section 21 (1) (b) carried on on lands in its functional area or as respects such activities carried on on lands in a particular part of its functional area) it shall consult with such body or bodies as may be prescribed for the purposes of this subsection.

(4) A notice under this section—

(a) shall require that the nutrient management plan—

(i) provide such particulars of the activity concerned as are specified in the notice,

(ii) specify the quantities of such nutrients in animal and other waste as are specified in the notice (which may include nutrients in waste as aforesaid produced from sources other than the land concerned) which it is estimated will be used in each year of the relevant period on the land concerned,

(iii) provide that a determination of the types and concentration of nutrients in the soil of the land concerned shall be made in accordance with a programme of sampling and analysis to be determined by the local authority after consultation with the person on whom the notice is served (hereafter in this section referred to as "the relevant person"),

(iv) specify the maximum quantities of such nutrients as are specified in the notice that, in the opinion of the relevant person, having regard to each of the matters referred to in subsection (5), ought, in each year of the relevant period, to be applied to, or injected into, the land concerned, or such parts thereof as are specified in the notice, or applied to crops growing on that land or such parts as are so specified,

(v) specify the times during the relevant period when the application to, or the injection into, the land concerned, or the application to crops growing thereon, of animal and other waste and chemical fertiliser ought, and ought not, in the opinion of the relevant person, to be carried out, having regard to any crop requirements and the objective of preventing, eliminating or minimising the loss of nutrients to waters,

(vi) require the keeping and maintenance of records in respect of each year, or, in the case of the matter referred to in clause (III), the year or years concerned, of the relevant period, containing such particulars as may be determined by the local authority after consultation with the relevant person in relation to—

(I) the doing of the following things during the year concerned by the said person, namely—

(A) the production, treatment, receiving from, or transfer to, another person by him of animal or other waste,

(B) the application to, or the injection into, the land concerned or the application to crops growing thereon, by him of animal or other waste and the times and rates at which such application or injection is carried out,

(II) the types and quantities of chemical fertiliser applied to the land concerned during the year concerned and the times and rates at which such application is carried out,

(III) the results of the determination referred to in subparagraph (iii) made in relation to the land concerned and, as the case may be, of any further determination of such kind made, pursuant to a requirement under paragraph (b) (ii), during the year concerned,

(vii) require such information in relation to the matters referred to in this paragraph and, as the case may be, paragraph (b), as is specified in the notice to be furnished to the local authority,

(b) may require that the nutrient management plan—

(i) shall require the keeping and maintenance of records in respect of each year of the relevant period containing particulars as may be determined by the local authority after consultation with the relevant person of the concentration of such nutrients in animal or other waste as are specified in the notice that have been applied to, or injected into, the land concerned during the year concerned,

(ii) shall provide that a further determination of the kind referred to in paragraph (a) (iii) (whether in respect of nutrients generally or nutrients of a class specified in a notice served by the local authority on the relevant person for the purposes of this sub-paragraph) shall be made at specified intervals after the determination referred to in that provision has been made,

(iii) shall address such other matters as the local authority considers necessary for the purpose of preventing, eliminating or minimising the entry of nutrients to waters from the activity concerned and specifies in the notice.

(5) The matters referred to in subsection (4) (a) (iv) are—

(a) the nature of the activity concerned,

(b) the type of soil concerned and the types and concentration of nutrients in that soil,

(c) the types of crop previously grown on the land concerned and the types of nutrient previously applied to, or injected into, that land and the rates of such application or injection, where relevant,

(d) the types of crop grown or to be grown on the land concerned,

(e) the intensity of the stocking of animals (if any) on the land concerned and of any other agricultural activities carried on on that land, and

(f) the need to make efficient use of nutrients having regard to any crop requirements and the objective of preventing, eliminating or minimising the loss of nutrients to waters.

(6) In subsection (4) and the subsequent provisions of this section "the relevant period" means the period of 12 months, or such longer period as may be specified in the notice concerned under subsection (1) or (8), as appropriate, beginning on the date that is 2 months after the approval of the nutrient management plan concerned under this section by the relevant local authority.

(7) A local authority may, as respects a nutrient management plan prepared and furnished to it in accordance with a notice under subsection (1), refuse to approve of the plan or approve thereof without modifications or make such modifications therein as it considers proper and approve of the plan as so modified.

(8) (a) A local authority, where it refuses to approve of a nutrient management plan under subsection (7), may, by service of a notice in writing on the person who furnished the plan to it, require that person to prepare and furnish to it another such plan and subsection (3) and the other provisions of this section shall apply to such a notice and such a plan as they apply to a notice under subsection (1) and a plan furnished to it pursuant to a notice under that subsection.

(b) The reference in subsection (2) to a notice under subsection (1) includes a reference to a notice under this subsection.

(9) If, upon the expiration of the period of 2 months from the date of receipt by it of a nutrient management plan prepared and furnished in accordance with a notice under this section, the local authority concerned has neither given a decision under subsection (7) to refuse to approve of the plan nor a decision thereunder to approve of the plan (by either of the means referred to in that subsection), the local authority shall be deemed to have approved of the plan under that subsection.

(10) A nutrient management plan may, with the prior written consent of the local authority which approved of the plan under this section, be varied during the relevant period.

(11) A person who fails to comply with a notice under subsection (1) or (8) within the period specified in the notice shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or to both.

(12) Proceedings for an offence under this section may be brought by the local authority which served the notice concerned".

This is a very important amendment which inserts a new section into the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act, 1990, empowering local authorities to require farmers to prepare nutrient management plans in respect of their farms. Deputies will recall that we had some discussion about this and I promised I would extend it into the area of farm pollution as well. I have had discussions with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and with the farming organisations.

During our earlier consideration of the Bill, there was a debate about the potential of agricultural waste and certain farming practices to cause water pollution. There was a recognition by many Deputies that, in addition to the controls to be applied to waste in general, the Bill contained a number of provisions focusing principally on agricultural wastes. Deputies welcomed these provisions but raised concerns that the threat posed to the environment by some agricultural activities should be countered more effectively. In responding to the debate I undertook to introduce an amendment to the water pollution Act when the Bill came before the Seanad for the purpose of dealing with the excessive enrichment of waters caused by nutrients contained in farm wastes and chemical fertilisers being washed off and causing eutrophication in our waterways.

The water courses of Ireland are relatively clean when compared to those of other European countries. However, in Ireland circumstances have arisen where farm wastes have the potential to impact seriously on the quality of rivers and lakes generally, due to the large volume of waste involved and its high nutrient content, in particular, its high phosphorous content. Farm run-offs is a significant source of pollution causing high nutrient levels in waters and giving rise to eutrophication. There has been a disturbing trend in the proportion of river channel to be affected by eutrophication since the early 1970s. The national overview of water quality for the period 1991-94 which was published recently by the Environmental Protection Agency is a comprehensive overview of the state of the Irish environment of which the Environmental Protection Agency can be very proud. A new overview will be published every five years from this day on. The overview looks at every aspect of the environment. It shows that eutrophication or slight to moderate pollution affected 28 per cent of surveyed river channel. This compared to 21 per cent for the previous period of analysis which was 1987-90.

Since it is essential that we address this issue, I am availing of this opportunity to introduce an amendment to the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act, 1990 to provide that a new responsibility may be placed by a local authority on individual farmers to prepare nutrient management plans in respect of their farms. When considered necessary these new powers will be used by local authorities to prevent, eliminate or minimise pollution caused by a particular segment of nutrients from farming. I hope that farmers generally will adopt nutrient planning as a key element of their farm management strategy for their financial benefit and, of course, for that of the environment generally.

There is an associated amendment to the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977 which seeks to provide farmers with an additional incentive to comply with the provisions of nutrient management plans for their farms. This takes the form of extending the good defence provision to a prosecution for the general water pollution offence under section 3 of that Act to circumstances in which the accused can prove that a farming activity was carried out in accordance with a nutrient management plan.

By international standards we have an extremely good environment but one worrying aspect is the increasing percentage of our navigable waters which are slightly or moderately polluted by eutrophication or farm run-offs, about which we must do something. Through the combined efforts of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the REP programme and informative initiatives undertaken by Teagasc and others — I had the privilege of launching a video for farmers on the spreading of artificial and natural fertilisers — we will reduce any deterimental effects on our environment.

This Bill proposes to give local authorities power to require farmers whose lands adjoin a sensitive area of river or lake to implement a nutrient plan or, if and when there is an occurrence of clear eutrophication in a particular stretch of river or lake to engage in direct discussions with them to ascertain how they apply nutrients to that particular stretch of land, if Teagasc can help them or if a system can be devised to ensure that whatever damage is done is minimised or eliminated. The incentive to farmers, by making it a good defence to devise and follow a plan in the case of prosecution, will encourage them to plan properly for the addition of nutrients. We have had discussions with the farmers' organisations and I believe there will be a general welcome for this proposal.

As the Minister said, the report of the Environmental Protection Agency confirms that, generally, our environment is very clean but that, while not serious, there are problems on the agricultural front. Circumstances may arise after a sudden, torrential shower of rain, in which there may be some seepage of nutrients into waterways for which a farmer may not be entirely to blame. He might very well be putting much effort and work into being environmentally sensitive to local waterways.

While supporting the Minister's amendment, given that there is much confusion about the REP scheme, would the Minister agree that, unless that is eliminated, implementation of this provision will be very difficult? Having spoken to farmers and others in the agricultural industry at a recent Fianna Fáil conference on the environment, I know there is much concern and confusion about that scheme which, while an excellent one, warrants greater clarification.

This amendment represents a significant improvement on the Bill as originally drafted. The Minister is correct in saying that on Committee Stage a number of Members expressed grave concern about the quality of our water nationwide and farm fertiliser run-offs. The recent, well researched report of the Environmental Protection Agency confirms that the overall position is worsening. Following our membership of the EEC and the intensification of farming here, there has been increased if not excessive use of fertilisers, proven by Teagasc reports. If we are really serious about preserving the quality of our water it is important that we put in place the requisite legislative safeguards.

At the beginning of this discussion I said that what this country needs is a more integrated Waste Bill, specifically consolidating the legislative provisions or solid waste and those on air and water quality. In a sense, this amendment is a step in that direction.

I am concerned that there may be some element of complacency in the Minister's proposal. In the context of this amendment he says that a new responsibility "may" be placed on farmers to devise a nutrient plan. Bearing in mind the worsening quality of our water, I would be much more confident about its future condition if the word "may" were changed to "must", thus placing a clear legislative requirement on farmers to prepare a nutrient plan. The REP scheme, while working indifferently, overall is a good one which, if properly implemented, should help in achieving the objectives of the Bill. Whenever farmers are given incentives such as State-aided grants through Teagasc along with a considerable amount of detailed information, expertise and advice on how to deal with excessive use of fertilisers resulting in run-offs from their land, the principle that the polluter pays must apply. There must be a very clear legal requirement on farmers to be more responsive to the law and more responsible in putting in place the type of safeguards against any excessive runoff from fertilisers used on their lands.

We must now take a firm stand on this issue. While I will not call a vote on it, I would be much more confident of the provisions of this Bill achieving their objective were the word "must" substituted for the word "may", thus placing a clear responsibility on farmers whose lands adjoin watercourses, streams and rivers to devise and implement a nutrient plan, with clear procedures in place to monitor its implementation.

For example, we know what happened to the water in Lough Derg and a number of our other key waterways. I tend sometimes to give wrong place names. While I will not be contesting the next Presidential election or anything of that nature, I do not want to get myself into trouble——

You never know.

——nevertheless a number of our rivers are being subjected to considerable eutrophication about which we cannot afford to be complacent. No doubt the Minister expects the provisions of this Bill to remain effective for many decades to come, and does not envisage its amendment in, say, 20 or 30 years' time. In that respect, I would insert a more precise requirement than he proposes.

I had intended to speak on landfill sites but having listened to an urban Minister, although he is not as urban as my two colleagues on this side, one of whom is from the centre of Dublin and the other from the major city of Cork, something nearer to home has to be dealt with first.

I do not think County Wexford could ever be described as urban.

I suspect from Deputy Quill's contribution that she is not very interested in the agricultural vote, especially in Carraigavar which is an intensive farming area. In defence of the farming community, none is more aware of the value of nature than farmers because farming is about nature. Where pollution occurs, it happens more by accident than by malicious design. As we come into the silage season, there will be spillages of silage effluent which usually occur during bad weather. I am glad to see the Chair will be taking my side of the argument.

The Chair is strictly neutral.

One has to look at where he comes from. Agricultural damage to the environment is not as bad as we are led to believe. Many Members have referred to the REP scheme which is against intensification. If the REPS were in place throughout the country we would not have the vibrant economic agriculture that we now have and production would be retarded very substantially. I am aware of farmers who wish to put management schemes in place for the distribution of farm effluent but because neighbouring farmers have participated in REPS they are not able to sign up for a scheme to distribute the effluent. The overuse of chemical fertilisers has resulted in excess nutrient value in the soil. An education process should be put in place on the proper use of chemical fertilisers in order to eliminate their overuse which is a waste of our resources. Our economy would benefit from the saving in foreign currency required to buy the imported raw material used in the manufacture of chemical fertilisers. We are not engaged in intensive agriculture but there is a tendency towards more intensive pig and poultry production. Intensification in the dairying area is restricted by quotas.

Farming is about nature and in my view no farmer would maliciously destroy a lake, river or waterway. The Bill is acceptable but I am concerned about the small print and what the Minister may introduce by way of regulation. I know representations will be made to the Minister as has happened on all occasions but I would like him to retain the power to use his discretion.

Seanad amendment No. 17 refers to:

the application, to, or the injection into, the land concerned or the application to crops growing thereon, by him of animals for other waste and the times and rates at which such application or injection is carried out.

Will it be mandatory that the effluent be injected into the ground? If that is the case, it will be a substantial cost factor on the farming community and will have a retarding effect on agricultural development. The type of equipment necessary to do this job is hugely expensive because the four wheel drive tractor necessary to drive the spray equipment is also expensive. The Minister should have discretion as to whether the old system of spreading can be used.

I did not study agriculture in great depth but everyone knows that phosphorus and possibly potassium is applied to the land in November, December and January and the nitrogenous fertilisers are applied towards the end of February and March. Nitrogenous fertilisers can have the same polluting effect as phosphates where algaes will grow on the non-fast flowing rivers and streams. Whether we like it or not, agriculture is going through a period of uncertainty and any further cost is not in keeping with the times we live in.

Disposal of offal from the meat plants is relevant to this Bill. That is a much bigger issue and I envisage protests about the abuse of many landfill sites. There is a perception that farmers indiscriminately pollute the environment and throw fertilisers around but that is far from the truth.

Nobody has said that except the Deputy.

I want to defend my community and the people I support in the agricultural industry who have made a huge investment. When the Minister writes up the terms I hope he will allow them discretion to work in the way that suits them. It is not in anyone's interest to interfere with the watercourses. We have to face the reality that our country is built on water. I appeal to the Minister to use his discretion.

I think I have struck the balance right when in succession one Deputy says I am going too far and the other says I am not going far enough. It sounds like mission impossible but I believe I can actually please both Deputies. I will explain the situation a little more.

There is no suggestion that there is malice or even negligence on the part of farmers. Everybody would agree that in a very direct way farmers are the custodians of our natural environment. Because they are so directly affected by it, they are more attuned to its protection than most people.

The Environmental Protection Agency in its most comprehensive analysis of the Irish environment has identified the water channel as needing special attention. We required the Environmental Protection Agency in law to produce a report. The least we should do is pay due attention to its very detailed and comprehensive report and I intend to do just that. The report tells us that eutrophication of our waterways has increased by some 7 per cent since the last survey and we need to do something about it. Analysis carried out by Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry tells us that farmers are wasting money by using too much fertiliser so it is not a burden on them to have proper monitoring of the nutrient contents of their land. In its reportThe State of the Environment in Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency on page 121 — referring to a report by Tunney et al of 1994 states:

The authors suggest that chemical P fertiliser inputs could be reduced by about IR£25 million per year, on a national scale, without any adverse effects on production. Even greater savings could be made over a number of years if farms where high soil P reserves have been built up over the years were to draw down these reserves to a more acceptable level.

Having a nutrient management plan monitoring the inputs to agriculture can not only be a major bonus to the environment and resolve the significant problem of eutrophication identified by the Environmental Protection Agency, but can have significant financial benefits for farmers. There is no conflict in regard to these matters.

I wish to deal with the point made by Deputy Quill about the "may" and "must" and this will also answer Deputy O'Keeffe's point. In the amendment I am not requiring that every farmer must, by law, have a nutrient management plan in the detail specified as I do not consider it is necessary at present. Local authorities can require the individual farmers, whose land adjoins sensitive water courses where there are perceived or real problems, to draw up such a plan. I hope that ultimately every farmer will have such a plan for the financial and environmental reasons I outlined. That will happen as it is the direction in which we are going. We cannot require a particular means of insertion of nutrients into the soil. Under this section farmers are required to draw up a register of how they might propose to do this. Such a register would provide relevant information to enable local authorities or farm advisory agencies to give good advice. It is a fair and environmentally positive system and I am sure it will be welcomed by the farming sectors on whom it will not be overburdensome. Ultimately the effort involved in preparing such a plan will be a very good investment.

It will save them money.

Regarding the issue of offal, I will be replying to a priority question on it tabled by Deputy Eoin Ryan during Question Time and I look forward to the debate on the issue. It is one we must face in the future.

It is a major one.

I am not sure that there would be widespread support for Deputy O'Keeffe's solution. I refer him to the debate on the Agricultural Estimate in the Official Report of 2 May 1996 when he was of the view that each meat plant or processor should have an incinerator on site. That would cause some debate and I am not sure if his colleague, Deputy Ryan, would agree with it. I look forward to that debate in due course.

I base my observation on modern technology.

I have an open mind on these matters, but I am not sure that there would be instant agreement on the Deputy's proposal, but there is a real issue to be addressed.

We have gone a long way to deal with an issue that was not initially addressed in the Waste Management Bill as proposed. We have negotiated a point that would be acceptable without being overly burdensome on the agricultural community and it will greatly benefit the environment. In answer to Deputy Quill's point, I am confident that this provision will not only have an impact, but will be meaningful in environmental terms for our future.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 18:

New Section: In page 89, before the First Schedule, the following new section inserted:

"71. —(1) A vehicle shall not be abandoned on any land.

(2) Where there is a contravention of subsection (1)—

(a) the person who placed the vehicle at the place where it was abandoned, and

(b) if there is a registered owner of the vehicle and the person aforesaid is not its registered owner, the registered owner,

shall each be guilty of an offence.

(3) In a prosecution for an offence undersubsection (2), it shall be a good defence to prove—

(a) that the act complained of constituted the transfer of control of the vehicle concerned to a person, with his or her consent, at a facility provided by or on behalf of that person for the purpose of the recovery or disposal of vehicles (including a facility referred to in section 38 (3) and that such transfer of control was not effected in contravention of section 32, or

(b) in case the defendant is the registered owner of the vehicle concerned, that the abandonment of the vehicle was not authorised by him or her.

(4) Without prejudice to the provisions of sections 55 (6) and 56, and notwithstanding the provisions of any regulations made under section 97 (inserted by section 63 of the Road Traffic Act, 1968) of the Road Traffic Act, 1961, a local authority may enter on any land upon which a vehicle has been abandoned and remove the said vehicle; a local authority shall not, other than with the consent of the occupier, enter into a private dwelling under this subsection unless it has given to the occupier of the dwelling not less than 24 hours notice in writing of its intended entry.

(5) Where, in relation to a vehicle removed from land by a local authority undersubsection (4)—

(a) the local authority is of the opinion that the condition of the vehicle is such that it is capable of being used as a vehicle or can, by the expenditure of a reasonable amount of money, be rendered capable of being so used, and

(b) the local authority can, by reasonable inquiry, ascertain the name and address of the owner of the vehicle,

the local authority shall store or arrange for the storage of the vehicle and shall serve a notice on the owner informing him or her of the removal and storage and of the address of the place where the vehicle may be claimed or recovered, and such a notice shall require the owner to claim or recover it within 2 weeks of the date of the service of the notice and inform him or her of the consequences specified in subsection (7) of his or her failure to do so.

(6) A vehicle to which subsection (5) applies shall be given to a person claiming the vehicle if, but only if, he or she makes a declaration in such form as may be specified by the local authority concerned or in a form to the like effect, stating that he or she is the owner of the vehicle or is authorised by its owner to claim it, and pays to the local authority the amount of the expenditure reasonably incurred by the local authority in respect of the removal and storage of the vehicle.

(7) Where a vehicle is removed from land by a local authority under subsection (4), and

(a) subsection (5) (a) does not apply in respect of the vehicle, or

(b) the name and address of the owner of the vehicle cannot be ascertained by the local authority by reasonable inquiry, or

(c) the said owner fails to claim the vehicle and remove it from the place where it is stored within 4 weeks of the date on which a notice under subsection (5) has been served on him or her,

the vehicle shall become the property of the local authority.

(8) No action shall lie in respect of anything done in good faith and without negligence in the course of the removal or storage of a vehicle under this section.

(9) A person who makes a declaration under subsection (6) which to his or her knowledge is false or misleading in a material respect shall be guilty of an offence.

(10) For the purposes of this section—

‘abandoned', in relation to a vehicle, includes left in such circumstances or for such period that it is reasonable to assume that the vehicle has been abandoned, and cognate words shall be construed accordingly;

‘local authority' includes the corporation of a borough of any kind and the council of an urban district;

‘registered owner' has the meaning assigned to it by the Road Traffic Act, 1961."

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 19:

FIFTH SCHEDULE.

In page 97, between lines 17 and 18, the following inserted:

“No. 11 of 1982

Litter Act, 1982

Sections 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.”

Question put and agreed to.

As this is the last time the Bill will be before this House, I thank Deputies on all sides for their contributions during all Stages. I join Deputies in thanking the large number of outside interests ranging from trade unions, IBEC, non-governmental organisations and environmentalists to individuals who not only submitted evidence and presented themselves before committees of the Oireachtas, but produced new proposals and refinements. In processing this legislation I have tried to be as open to any positive suggestion I could encompass. Because of that many Deputies may say that the Bill has grown during its passage through the Houses and involved us all in a great deal of work. I share Deputy Ryan's view that the incredible volume of work Deputies have put into this Bill is not reflected in column inches in any newspaper. People talk about the workings of this House, but it is amazing that when we work in committee and tease out complicated important legislation we do not get great credit for that work outside this House. The monument of the working of the House will be the legislation and its real impact on the environment.

I wish to thank a very burdened group of people, the officers of this House, particularly those in the Bills Office who deal with amendments right through the night as in the case of this Bill when substantive technical amendments were worked on. That should be acknowledged publicly. I express my sincere thanks to all the officers and Deputies involved.

I, too, thank everybody involved in the Department of the Environment, officers in the Bills Office and others who put so much work into this Bill. I would also like to thank the Minister who, in his usual way, listened to people's points of view and accepted many amendments, as a result of which the Bill has grown. Many members of the public with whom I raised this matter during the past year were not aware that this legislation would be passed and bring about changes. I told them the Bill would soon be passed and would have a positive impact on their lives. They may not agree with some parts of it initially, but it will have a positive impact in the long-term.

Recently the Minister was talking a good deal of rubbish, but on the waste management front he should make the point that this is important legislation that will benefit our environment in the long-term. I thank the Minister for listening to the many points put forward in the course of the debate.

I compliment the Minister and congratulate him for the manner in which he introduced this legislation, piloted through the different Stages and the openness he demonstrated to new ideas by Members or outside bodies. I also thank his officials who were enormously helpful to Opposition Deputies in explaining the provisions of the Bill and their implications. I join the Minister in thanking the officers in the Bills Office who worked long and hard on this Bill to which there were perhaps more amendments than to any previous Bill this year, which was the outcome of a good deal of effort by officials in the Department of the Environment and officers in the Bills Office.

This is excellent legislation. For a long time we have taken our environment for granted, but we can no longer do that. I look forward to the Bill's effective implementation. I am very much encouraged that in future the Environmental Protection Agency will monitor its implementation and scientifically demonstrate whether we are making progress and if the environment is benefiting from this legislation. We will no longer be dependent on folklore from different parts of the country. Scientific information contained in an Environmental Protection Agency report five years' hence — and I hope we will all be here five years from now — will be the measure of which we will judge the benefit of this legislation.

We will know then whether there has been a reduction in the eutrophication of the rivers or an improvement in the standards of environmental practice.

Acting Chairman

We may not have Second Stage contributions at this time.

There are some well managed landfill sites in County Cork, especially in north Cork. I compliment the county manager and the council officials for their work. I invite the Minister to visit the landfill site. A lot of work on this legislation was carried out by the former Minister, Deputy Michael Smith.

Acting Chairman

The Deputy may not make a speech now.

The Minister referred to the litter problem. The Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, has an interest in this matter given that he has responsibility for science and technology, which industries are among the cleanest. I urge the Minister to put a strict code of practice in place and perhaps designate certain towns as litter free zones. A clean image is very important.

Amendments reported and agreed to.

Acting Chairman

A message will be sent to Seanad Éireann acquainting it that the Seanad amendments have been reported.