Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (62)

Denis Naughten


62. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he plans to increase on-the-spot litter fines; his plans to address data protection concerns with regard to the use of CCTV for litter enforcement; if he will review the provisions with regard to the confiscation of vehicles used by fly-tippers in view of the fact that this provision has not been utilised by local authority enforcement officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2958/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have committed, under the Government's Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, to increase the range of offences to which Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) penalties would apply and the level of the on-the-spot litter fine may be considered in that context.

I have also set out a commitment in the Waste Action Plan to ensure that all waste enforcement legislation will be “data proofed”, so that all available and emerging technologies can be fully utilised in a manner which is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant. My Department will continue to liaise with the local authority sector and the Data Protection Commission to ensure that the appropriate legislative underpinning is in place to allow for the use of CCTV to support enforcement efforts in a manner which is both effective and GDPR compliant.

In terms of the use of specific enforcement options, such as the confiscation of a vehicle, by the EPA or local authorities, section 60(3) of the Waste Management Act, I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by the EPA or a local authority, in particular circumstances, of a statutory function vested in it.

Section 14 of the Act allows an authorised person, for any purpose connected to the Act, halt and/or board a vehicle, which can then be taken to a designated place and detained there, for only as long as is necessary to fulfil the purpose under which it was seized.

Section 61 of the Act does provide for the detention and forfeiture of certain vehicles and equipment, but only by order of the court and only after a person is convicted on indictment of an offence under Section 36, 39 or 57 of the Act. Only in such instances can the court, before which the person is convicted, order the forfeiture to a local authority or the Agency of vehicles/equipment owned by the defendant and used in the commission of the offence.