My role, as Minister, is to provide the legislative and policy framework under which both local authority and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement action against illegal dumping is initiated.
In accordance with section 59(1) of the Waste Management Act, 1996, each local authority is responsible for the supervision and the enforcement of the relevant provisions of the Act in relation to the holding, recovery and disposal of waste within its functional area. Local authorities have specific powers under sections 55 and 56 of the Act to require measures to be taken, or to take measures directly, to prevent or limit environmental pollution caused or likely to be caused by the holding, recovery or disposal of waste, and to mitigate or remedy the effects on the environment of any such activity.
Underpinning waste enforcement is state funding for waste enforcement officers. I have made €9 million available from the Environment Fund this year to support the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities (WERLAs) and the recruitment and continued employment of a network of local authority waste enforcement officers. This investment is critical in tackling issues such as illegal dumping in local communities and in providing an enhanced response on the ground to other infractions of the waste code.
My Department has also developed an Anti-Dumping Initiative to work in partnership with local authorities and community organisations in identifying high risk or problem areas, developing appropriate enforcement responses and carrying out clean-up operations.
Applications for funding from local authorities were invited for consideration by the relevant WERLA with an initial allocation of €650,000 made available to support this initiative. Funding is being prioritised for projects where community groups and other state agencies work in partnership to clean-up and prevent illegal dumping and where effective enforcement actions are being undertaken by local authorities.
I have been advised that 111 applications have been received from all over the country and given this very positive response it is my intention to make further funds available to support a second phase of this initiative in 2017. I will be making an announcement in this regard shortly.