Illegal Waste: Minister responds to call for Public Inquiry

Mark H Durkan
Mark H Durkan

The North’s Environment Minister says he is not convinced a Public Inquiry is needed in to the illegal dumping of 500,000 tonnes of waste on the outskirts of Derry.

SDLP Minister Mark H Durkan told the Assembly on Tuesday that he is not sure “how much further it (a Public Inquiry) will go than the Mills Report and the ongoing criminal investigation.”

“Since taking office, I have published the Mills Report, an independent review of what went wrong at Campsie and what needs to be done to ensure that these failings are not repeated,” the Minister said.

“I have never tried to defend or deny the fact that systemic weaknesses within the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and DOE made it easy for these sophisticated, organised criminal gangs to operate – polluting our countryside and ripping off ratepayers. I have taken positive actions to ensure that NIEA is better structured and equipped to combat these criminals.

He continued: “I have expressed doubts that a Public Inquiry is essential. I feel that the resources required to run one would be much better employed tackling the problem itself. I’m not sure how much further it will go than the Mills Report and the ongoing criminal investigation. However, everything I do is grounded in openness and transparency and I will not stand in the way of any action that might restore public confidence.

“I will be counting on continued support from all parties as I bid for the funding required to carry out a far-reaching and deep inquiry that leaves no stone unturned.”

Mr Durkan was responding to a Assembly Motion calling for a Public Inquiry tabled by a number of MLAs including Foyle Sinn Fein Assembly member, Raymond McCartney.

The 1.4 km site on the Mobouy Road near the River Faughan, where most of the illegal landfill was buried in old sand and gravel excavation pits, was in and around a recycling centre.