A Derry firm at the centre of allegations of “immense and appalling” illegal dumping has hit back, claiming it was targeted because of its opposition to the government’s current waste strategy.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood yesterday revealed that a company - which was later confirmed as City Waste at Campsie - had its licence revoked as part of an investigation into an illegal waste operation running into “many millions of pounds”.
Mr Attwood described the alleged illegal operation on several acres of land at Moubouy as “environmental vandalism” committed by organised criminals.
However, a spokesman for City Waste said the company was “horrified” by the announcement. He added that the Minister’s move was a “shock” and vehemently denied that the company was involved in any “criminality or environmental vandalism”.
City Waste has claimed that the Minister’s move was “prompted” by a legal objection made by the waste company to another local project.
“The company maintains that the licence revocation which was based on the technical breaches has been prompted by our legal objection to the minister’s £35m cash injection to be used to shore up a procurement process for the appointment of a contractor to build and manage a giant incinerator and energy from waste plant in the north west,” the spokesman said.
He added: “Without the £35m, the procurement process was in danger of collapsing. The only obstacle between the appointment of the preferred bidder was our company’s legal challenge.”
But the DOE said this morning that the counter claim was “plainly wrong”. A spokesperson said: “The actions taken by the DOE yesterday follow a long and unprecedented investigation over a number of months. The DOE interventions were based on hard evidence.
“The DOE will continue with its investigations, and will leave no stone unturned in identifying any and all who have been involved in waste offences and environmental crime.
“The DOE shall be fearless in this approach. It is the evidence of waste offending and criminality that is the reason and only reason for the investigation and the actions taken yesterday. Any claim to the contrary is plainly wrong and people will see any such claim for what it is.”
City Waste was shut down yesterday. Other notices have been served on the owners of land used for the disposal of waste, which require them to take action to prevent environmental damage by removing polluting liquid from the waste for disposal elsewhere.
The DOE has said that a prosecution case file is to be submitted to the Public Prosecution Service. The DOE said arrests had been as part of the investigation but no charges were brought.
The NIEA Environmental Crime Unit has requested that anyone with information about suspicious movements of waste in the Northwest (either in the past or currently) to report what they know to NIEA, PSNI or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.