I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 and 128 together.
There can be no excuse for illegal waste activities, irrespective of whether they take the form of illegal dumping within the State or the illegal exportation of waste to another jurisdiction. I have, therefore, introduced a number of significant initiatives designed to achieve more vigorous enforcement of the waste code.
I took the opportunity by way of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003 to provide new enforcement powers for the environmental authorities concerned and to increase the maximum fines that can be imposed for contraventions of the waste code. I have recognised the need for improved structural arrangements to underpin the enforcement effort. Last October I announced details of the establishment of a new Office of Environmental Enforcement, OEE, located within the Environmental Protection Agency. While it has a wide remit, the OEE, at my request, is focusing on waste related enforcement activities as a priority.
I have allocated €7 million from the environment fund to support the first year of a major five year programme of local authority waste enforcement activities. The aim is to provide a stronger and more visible local authority enforcement presence on the ground and ensure more frequent inspections and speedier responses to reported instances of illegal dumping.
I am not in a position to comment on individual cases of suggested illegal dumping in this jurisdiction as the investigation of such complaints is a matter for the relevant local authority, the OEE and, in some cases, the Garda. On reported incidences of illegal cross-Border dumping in Northern Ireland, the OEE is considering how the extent of such incidences might be more precisely established. I am aware that there are ongoing contacts on individual cases between the relevant authorities, North and South. I have also recenltly received correspondence on the matter from Omagh District Council, in response to which I have sought a report from the OEE. The relevant authorities in this jurisdiction will co-operate actively with the authorities in Northern Ireland with a view to dealing effectively with illegal cross-Border movements of waste.