Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (579)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

579. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason Meath County Council has not complied with the waste management landfill regulations or taken sanction against those responsible for an unauthorised landfill (details supplied). [26085/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Issues concerning the enforcement of waste legislation are statutory matters for local authorities or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as appropriate, who both have significant powers under waste regulations to secure compliance by waste operators. The role of my Department is to provide a comprehensive legislative and waste policy framework through which the enforcement authorities operate.

Under section 60(3) of the Waste Management Act 1996, as Minister, I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by the agency or a local authority, in particular circumstances, of a statutory function vested in it.

The primary objective of local authorities in terms of waste enforcement is to achieve regulatory compliance in relation to waste activities in the local authority’s functional area. It is a matter for each individual local authority in the first instance to deal with any instances of illegal disposal of waste in their area and to take the appropriate enforcement action. Local authorities have significant powers available to them under the Waste Management Act, to enable them to tackle illegal waste activity. This includes the power to investigate complaints, prosecute offences, apply to the Courts for the imposition of fines, direct a holder of waste to dispose of it in a certain way within a specific timeframe and monitor and inspect waste holding, recovery and disposal facilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency carries out its waste enforcement functions through the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE). The OEE has a mandate to deliver enhanced environmental compliance through enforcement of EPA licences issued to waste, industrial and other activities. It also exercises a supervisory role in respect of the environmental protection activities of local authorities. In this regard, the OEE acts as a resource to members of the public who have exhausted all other avenues of complaint.

With respect to this particular site, it is my understanding that the OEE has a Public Authority Enforcement file open in respect of waste deposited on these lands and that this file remains under active consideration.