A suggestion Derry City and Strabane District Council start billing Donegal County Council over cross-border dumpers freeloading off the city’s waste infrastructure were rubbished during a meeting of the local authority’s Environment and Regeneration Committee on Wednesday.
The move was suggested by DUP Alderman David Ramsey after vehicle number plate recognition systems at the Pennyburn, Brandywell and Rossdowney recycling centres found that over October /November 2016 alone 2,921 southern-registered cars were detected using the dumps.
Alderman Ramsey extrapolating from this figure suggested this equated to over 17,000 visits a year.
He argued it was a potentially serious burden for ratepayers that the council might have to look at.
“We’re faced with a very difficult one here, in that we’ve just struck a rate, but there is an issue in that people in Donegal have to pay to have their bags lifted whereas we on this side of the border have the infrastructure available for free,” he said.
He said it was clear Donegal residents were “regularly coming across the border and dumping at our centres”.
“It’s currently an issue for our rates,” he said.
But Councillor Brian Tierney rejected the notion of targeting Donegal-registered users.
He warned access to cross-border amenities was a two-way street.
“How much does it cost for a walk across Fahan beach? It doesn’t cost a penny. Why are you suggesting that we put up barriers?” asked Councillor Tierney.
“It’s ridiculous with the numbers we are dealing with to suggest we do,” he added.
Council waste boss Conor Canning suggested many of the users may well have been perfectly legitimate rate-paying citizens, resident in the city, but using southern-registered vehicles.