Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan has published the Department of Environment’s Operational Plan for managing and regulating waste in Northern Ireland, announcing the country needs a “radical and coordinated” approach to waste crime.
Last year the DOE discovered some 500,000 tonnes of illegal waste dumped in the Mobuoy area, Campsie, just outside Derry. At that time, the Minister gave a commitment to publish an Operational Waste Plan for Northern Ireland.
An independent review, The Mills Report, published last December, highlighted that there were systemic failures in the management and regulation of waste in Northern Ireland including significant criminal infiltration.
It also identified a lack of a joined up approach to tackling this problem with agencies often working in silos and that partnership working with councils, industry and the waste sector was critical.
Commenting on the need to implement a radical new approach, Mark H Durkan said: “The failures identified by the Mills Report require a new radical, and coordinated approach. A key part of this is for DOE to improve traditional methods of regulation and enforcement.
Durkan – “A narrow approach relying mainly on traditional crime fighting and tougher enforcement are indeed critical to creating a legitimate and successful waste sector in Northern Ireland. However, used in isolation they cannot solve the problem. This was a point emphasised strongly in the Mills report”
“My position is clear, we need to use every mechanism available to tackle the serious problems identified. A narrow approach relying mainly on traditional crime fighting and tougher enforcement are indeed critical to creating a legitimate and successful waste sector in Northern Ireland. However, used in isolation they cannot solve the problem. This was a point emphasised strongly in the Mills report.
“Arguably the most important actions in the Waste Plan will require strong partnership working between the new local councils and my Department. Powerful co-operation between the central and local arms of government will go a long way to ensuring the proper management of waste in the North.
“I have also recruited Chris Mills, the author of the Mills report, to work within the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to assist in driving forward these essential changes.”
Speaking at the Inauguration of CIWM’s President, John Quinn, the Minister outlined his vision. He said: “A prosperous Northern Ireland is one in which the current illegal disposal of waste is consigned to its own rubbish bin. I have published actions to improve our regulatory oversight of the waste sector. I will also ensure that my Environment Agency, NIEA uses its crime investigation and related powers to prevent and reduce serious waste crime.
“However, the best way to reduce waste crime is to reduce the creation of waste in the first place.
“My Department alone cannot bring about the widespread changes needed. So a major emphasis of this Plan is to build much stronger collaboration between central and local government and between government and industry, including the waste sector.”
The Minister is also urging the waste sector to set its sights high and grasp the economic opportunity to deliver high quality waste services that meet all legal standards, said: “It is you, your Institution and the industry that can help deliver the future of waste management. Only through collaborative and collective working can we reduce the risk posed to human health, the economy and the environment.”