Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
496. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 529 of 5 February 2019, if he will address a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9613/19]
As part of "A Resource Opportunity", there was a proposal to strengthen the collection permitting system further by changing the permit fee structures. Consideration was given to amending secondary legislation around the level of permit fees payable by a waste operator, which are currently €1,000, €2,000 or €5,000 depending on whether the application to collect waste is in a single local authority functional area, a region or nationally. However, advice was received that fees collected from waste operators to support activities, such as enforcement, may constitute a levy and was not proceeded with. In that context, the issue of a contribution to enforcement from the sector will be revisited in the context of the review of "A Resource Opportunity" taking place in 2019.
Issues concerning the enforcement of waste legislation are statutory matters for local authorities or the Environmental Protection Agency as appropriate, who both have significant powers under waste legislation to secure compliance from waste operators. The role of my Department is to provide a comprehensive legislative and policy framework through which the enforcement authorities operate.
Waste enforcement activities on the ground have received significant support through the continued annual investment of €7.4 million in the network of 150 local authority waste enforcement officers and the further development of the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authority (WERLA) Offices with an annual budget in excess of €1 million. I regard the introduction of the WERLA model in 2015 as one of the most significant reforms introduced in the local authority sector in a decade. Through this structure and with the cooperation of local authority waste enforcement personnel, a more co-ordinated and consistent approach to tackling waste crime in Ireland is being achieved. This investment is critical in providing an enhanced response on the ground to infractions of the waste code and enables enforcement personnel to carry out a verifiable programme of waste enforcement activity and deal with national waste enforcement priorities while sending a strong signal to waste operators that a robust enforcement presence continues to be maintained.
My Department has also developed the Anti-Dumping Initiative to work in partnership with local authorities and community organisations in identifying high risk or problem areas, developing appropriate enforcement responses and carrying out clean-up operations. Since 2017, funding of €3.3 million has been made available from the Environment Fund in this regard which has supported over 400 projects across all 31 local authority areas, remediating black spots and equipping local authority enforcement officers with the latest technologies available to support SMART enforcement of our waste laws. A review of this initiative is underway, which will inform a 2019 anti-dumping work programme that will place an increased emphasis on all actors who facilitate the unauthorised movement and disposal of waste.