Criminals 'exploit NI waste systems'

Published Wednesday, 18 December 2013
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Illegal dumping is widespread in Northern Ireland and involves organised criminal gangs exploiting poor waste regulation to make vast profits, a report said.

The study was commissioned following the discovery of a massive illegal dump in Campsie on the outskirts of Londonderry.

An estimated 516,000 tonnes of rubbish was buried in an area close to the River Faughan on a site which stretches over a mile - everything from household to industrial waste.

It was just the tip of the iceberg, with the independent investigation team lead by the former Director of the Welsh Environment Agency Chris Mills discovering that gangs are dumping waste right across NI, making huge profits and damaging the environment.

Twenty other suspect operations have now been identified and probed, and persecutions are being pursued against 34 people.

Mr Mills has recommended an overhaul of the entire system to prevent criminal activity.

He said: "The cost of dealing with this historic legacy could run into hundreds of millions of pounds and failure to do so risks infraction under the EU Waste Framework Directive."

Based on an assumption the clearance work was required at 100 locations in the region, Mr Mills estimated the cost could reach as much as £250m.

He revealed that the regulation of waste here is highly vulnerable to criminal infiltration which can allow criminals to access vast profits with low deterrents.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said the report "makes for sober reading".

The SDLP man went on: "Mills is clear in pointing out that we have serious problems right across our waste systems.

"Mr Mills provides a set of recommended actions to fix these problems. Given the scale of the problems, the implementation of these actions must be done in a powerful way that creates and delivers fundamental change.

"I am determined that this will happen as quickly as possible so that we can start building a waste system that everyone in Northern Ireland can have confidence in."

Proposal on how to tighten up the law will go before the minister early in the New Year.

© UTV News
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4 Comments
Paul in Castlederg wrote (124 days ago):
This so called country is a dump anywey
jim in derry wrote (127 days ago):
The people responsible for this illegal dumping should be footing the bill for the clean up and not the tax payers. Those who are prosecuted should be stripped of all their assets!
Brian in Banbridge wrote (127 days ago):
The clean-up for all this is going to cost millions. The judiciary really need to start taking environmental crime seriously and start dishing out appropriate sentences.
Terry in belfast wrote (127 days ago):
Why when the first reports of illegal dumping were reported to the DOE as far back as 2007 did the evironmental regulators not get their act together and prosecute the offenders then? What we need is an independent Environment Agency as the current NIEA is not fit for purpose. For years the various sections have worked in silos they are simply not fit to protect our precious environment.
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