Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Waterstown (Dublin) Dump.


asked the Minister for the Environment if he is aware of proposals by Dublin County Council for the development of a major dump at Waterstown, County Dublin; if he is satisfied that this proposal is consistent with the overall environmental objectives of the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I am aware of the proposal. While my Department have issued guidelines to local authorities on the factors that they should take into account in selecting, designing and managing waste disposal sites, the statutory position is that responsibility for the planning, organisation, authorisation and supervision of waste disposal operations in its functional area is a matter for Dublin County Council. The local authority have put it on record that the site in question will be designed, operated and managed to the highest environmental standards. They also state that in the longer term the reclaimed site will constitute part of the Liffey Valley Regional Park and that the longer term development of the site will be the subject of further discussions with the residents' associations so as to ensure that the final development will be as aesthetically pleasing as practicable.

The Minister referred to the importance of selecting suitable sites and said that it is a matter for the local authority. Would the Minister, first of all, say if he or his Department have any say in the selection of a site? Does his Department not have to say: "That is all right, you can go ahead with that"? In the case of a major tiphead such as this, which will take in the region of 100,000 cubic metres of refuse per annum, does the Minister not have to sanction the site?

So the Minister had not even been made aware of what is happening? He left it to the local authority?

I am aware of the proposal, but you asked whether they have to seek my permission and the answer to that is no.

Was the Minister aware in advance or has he only heard of it since the row erupted?

Unless the local authority wanted some funding for this, if they were doing it within their own resources, they would not make us aware of it. I am not saying the Department would not be aware of it but they would not have to be aware of it. There is no reason why they should be aware of it.

I presume the Minister's Department have issued strict guidelines to local authorities in regard to sites that would be suitable for tipheads and could I bring to the attention of the Minister a statement made in 1980 by Mr. Kevin O'Donnell, the Dublin Chief Engineer for Sanitary Services? Is the Minister aware that he said that an aspect of waste disposal by landfill that has become manifest as being of major importance in recent years is the occurrence of a polluting discharge from tiphead refuse? Rainfall passing down through the layers of refuse——

Quotations are not allowed at Question Time, Deputy.

——picks up a variety of substances and can the Minister say that he has read this statement from the Dublin Chief Engineer for Sanitary Services which also stated that unlike ordinary sewage——

I cannot permit quotations at Question Time.

Does the Minister realise that unlike ordinary sewage this refuse now disposed of at tipheads is not amenable to treatment? Has he heard or was he advised by the Chief Engineer of Dublin Sanitary Services that it now appears that valleys and hillsides have little suitability as tipheads in the Dublin region? If the Minister is aware of that has he asked the local authority to produce an environmental impact study or is that necessary before such a tiphead is commenced?

It has been thoroughly investigated from a hydrological point of view. That is the idea of this type of testing. It has been found to be suitable. The Dublin County Council, in which Kevin O'Donnell is the chief engineer, indicated to the Department that it is suitable.

The Minister did not answer my question. Has he issued guidelines?

Yes, we issued guidelines to them.

Could I have a copy of those guidelines?

I will get the Deputy a copy.

Is the Minister aware that, while the county council may maintain that this site is suitable, they do so on their own because the local communities and experts they have hired say that it is not suitable? Is the Minister further aware that at enormous expense to the local communities they have had independent consultants produce a report and would the Minister consider that report which is already with him? It has been produced in the last couple of weeks. Would the Minister consider that no matter what the county council do with that valley they will not be able to improve on God's work, they will not be able to improve on nature and produce a better park than what has been there for thousands of years?

It is very hard to know but when one looks at Fairview Park it is a reasonable amenity within the Dublin area as a result of what we are talking about. The matter is one for the local authority. The obligation is on them to provide sites for tipheads subject to the guidelines we have laid down. They have the responsibility of looking after refuse and waste. The Dublin area is not well endowed with tipheads and areas like that. Industry particularly is affected because of the lack of waste disposal outlets. If the local authority does not provide adequate disposal outlets you will have indiscriminate dumping. The local authority are the responsible authority. They are the planning authority for this area and one must leave it to them.

The Minister cannot get out of his responsibility.

My responsibility is in laying down guidelines and we have issued guidelines to all the authorities and indeed reminded them of the responsibility they have to provide tipheads.

Is the Minister——

I am moving to the next question.

This is a dump in a high amenity area——

The Deputy should not ignore the Chair.

I have to ask a final question.

You will ask such questions as you are permitted to ask.

No access to the Minister's office. Obviously there is a split.

I am entitled to defend my constituents. Every time I stand up I am told to sit down. Even on the Criminal Justice Bill I did not get a fair hearing from the Chair.

The Deputy will withdraw that remark.

I withdraw it.