Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ceisteanna (247)

Damien English

Ceist:

247. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide in tabular form the total number of inspections for compliance with plastic bag levy in 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; the number of compliant inspections; the number of cases brought and the number of convictions as a result of these cases; the total cost of these inspections for each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49364/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

Environmental enforcement inspections in relation to the plastic bag levy are undertaken by local authorities. While my Department does not collect the data sought in the question, local authorities provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with annual data on the total number of environmental inspections carried out, including those relating to the plastic bag levy.

The table below shows the total number of inspections carried out by local authorities in relation to the plastic bag levy for the years 2009 to 2011, as reported by local authorities to the EPA . Figures for 2012 have not yet been published.

Year

Number of PBL Inspections

2009

1,573

2010

800

2011

683

In a recent report published by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office on the Environment Fund Levies ( Report on the Accounts of the Public Services 2011 ), it was recommended that my Department collate and analyse results of inspections in order to assess the adequacy of the inspection regime and the overall level of compliance indicated by it. However, I believe that the overall level of inspections carried out by local authorities is sufficient. As local authorities are the major beneficiaries of the levy, it is in their own best interests to ensure that the levies are collected and enforced effectively. In addition, plastic bag litter statistics indicate that the current level of inspections is effective in delivering the required environmental outcomes. The latest figures available (2011) from the National Litter Pollution Monitoring Body show that plastic bag litter accounts for 0.24% of litter arising. This compares with 5% prior to the levy’s introduction. My Department also monitors per capita usage of leviable plastic bags. Estimates are that prior to the introduction of the levy 328 bags per person were supplied by retailers per annum compared to a level of 18 bags per person per annum in 2010.

In addition to the role of the local authorities in carrying out environmental enforcement inspections, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners is responsible for compliance in relation to the collection of the levy. Such responsibilities include, inter alia, the identification of accountable persons; carrying out verification checks relating to the accuracy of the returns received; and pursuing accountable persons who fail to deliver returns and payments within the statutory time limits.