Wednesday, 6 February 2008
National Waste Strategy: Statements
Paddy Burke (Fine Gael)
I propose to share time with Senator John Paul Phelan. I welcome the opportunity to comment on waste management and our approach to it. What happened to the regional plans made throughout the country? Great detailed debate went into where landfills and recycling centres would be located. Every aspect of waste management was dealt with in every region. However, we do not appear to be sticking with those plans. What is happening to them?
The Government is due to conduct a complete review of this issue, which I welcome, and I hope time is allocated in the House for a debate on the review and its results. On the other hand the Government is issuing a contract worth €13 million for an ambitious plan on waste management and will put a contractor in place. It appears to be indecisive on the issue of refuse and waste management. Commercial waste, for example, with the exception of electrical waste, is simply collected and most of it is sent to landfill. There is no recycling system in place for commercial businesses. That issue should be examined urgently.
There should also be an element of urgency in the review. The Canadians, over a period of five years, went from a zero rate of recycling to 95%. There is no reason that Ireland should not be the leader in Europe on the issue of waste management and recycling but there is no urgency in our approach. Systems are not being put in place. I agree with Senator O'Malley's sentiments with regard to the local authorities collecting waste. The same debacle occurred in County Mayo. Local authorities are unable to compete in the commercial sector. They do not wish to compete although they could, if they put their minds to it. The best and brightest of people in this country work in local authorities and in the Civil Service. However, too many restraints are put on them and they are not allowed to compete in the commercial sector. There will have to be changes in that regard if the local authorities are to compete.
I welcome the review taking place. The management of waste is a huge issue. The Minister should examine the issue of landfills and economies of scale in landfill provision. County Mayo is one of the few counties that has two landfills. There is a problem at present with leachate seeping from the landfills and the disposal of the leachate. The question is whether it should be pumped into the sea or if it should be transported to treatment plants. To bring the treatment of leachate and other run-off from landfills to the highest standard, economy of scale is required. The Government must consider this if the run-off is to be treated to the highest standard.