Sinn Féin’s Derry environment spokesperson, Sandra Duffy, has called for stronger measures to tackle illegal dumping after it emerged there have been only 66 convictions in the North for this crime over the past decade.
The Galliagh councillor was commenting after new data showed up to 750,000 tonnes of waste were illegally dumped in the North over the past decade.
Derry had been acutely affected by the problem through both the illegal landfill dump at Mobuoy, as well as by the citywide phenomenon of fly-tipping, she said.
“Hundreds and thousands of tonnes of waste have been illegally dumped in landfills to avoid landfill tax, a measure introduced by the British Government supposedly to encourage recycling and waste recovery but has actually led to huge increases in illegal landfill dumping,” she claimed.
“With only 66 convictions over the last number of years from 2008 to 2017 for those guilty of dumping in illegal landfills, clearly more needs to be done to ensure that illegal dumpers are brought to justice.”
She said the largest illegal landfill in Europe, located on the banks of the River Faughan between Drumahoe and Campsie, remained a major concern. But so too did the wider issue of dumping in mews lanes and on country roads across the city.
“We all know too well the huge concerns about illegal dumping at Mobuoy outside Derry and the vast cost to the council on an ongoing basis.
“The material dumped not only has a financial cost to clean up, but damages our environment by contaminating the soil and has the potential to damage our health as it could seep into the water we drink.
“The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has introduced new penalties for dumpers which will be in place from April 1, 2018, which will ensure that those dumping waste will be liable for unpaid landfill tax.
“Locally we need a stronger emphasis on enforcement and prosecution of those engaged in the criminal dumping of waste,” she said.
Last week the NIEA and Forensic Science signed a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) to step up the fight against environmental crime.
NIEA chief, David Small added: “Our own staff have been making great strides in combatting environmental crime. This agreement allows us to intensify those efforts through greater access to the outstanding resources of FSNI.”