Inadequate resources hampering ability of Down and Newry Councils to find illegal landfill sites
South Down MLA Willie Clarke has written to the Environment Minister in the new Executive, Arlene Foster, asking that she examine ways of ensuring Councils can properly tackle the problem of illegal landfill sites.
Mr Clarke said:
"One of the most pressing environmental problems currently facing us is the damage being done to our countryside through the illegal dumping of rubbish at sites, many of which are located close to border areas.
"One way of addressing this problem is through the use of satellite imaging technology which will be able to pinpoint illegal landfill sites and the East Border Region Environmental Sub Group, through Interreg IIIA is providing funding for this project. The Council areas involved are Louth, Monaghan, Newry and Mourne and Down District Council and the estimated cost of the project is 492,325 Euros. Grant aid of 369,181.00 Euros has been awarded and the balance of 123,144.00 Euro is being made up from resources provided by the four Councils.
"On the Northern side of the border, Down and Newry and Mourne Councils are being curtailed in utilising this technology as they are being forced to change their plans because of procedural difficulties in gaining access onto private land which is not possible without the assistance of Environment and Heritage Services. EHS have made clear they do not currently have the resources to accommodate the requirements of the project in relation to using their powers of entry to allow the nominated contractor to enter onto private land to undertake Phase 2 and 3 work.
"This is very unsatisfactory and as a result of these difficulties, both Newry and Down Councils are restricted in how they are able to investigate illegal dumpsites due to the restrictions placed on Council officials from entering private property without the consent of EHS. This will have a serious impact on the ability of both Councils, on the northern side of the border, to implement measures that will improve the problem of illegal dumping by identifying and prosecuting the people responsible.
"I written to the Minister for the Environment, Arlene Foster MLA, asking that her Department examine ways of resolving the serious anomalies that are curtailing councils here in the six counties from acting on information gained through satellite imaging technology." ENDS