Mountain of illegal waste is brought back from North
THOUSANDS of tonnes of waste dumped illegally in the North began arriving back in the Republic yesterday.
The refuse, which is believed to have originated in counties Cork and Wexford, ended up in remote sites in Fermanagh and Tyrone, but is being repatriated to the Republic in an arrangement between the two jurisdictions that could cost the Exchequer up to €36m.
Yesterday morning, the first fleet of sealed lorries pulled into a recently upgraded landfill at Ballynacarrick, Ballintra, Co Donegal, with 4,500 tonnes of waste on board.
Donegal County Council is one of a number of local authorities that tendered for the waste, which is seen as a means of generating much-needed revenue for cash-strapped local authorities.
The first consignment, which was excavated from a site at Slattinagh, Garrison, Co Fermanagh, will be followed by a further 10,000 tonnes from Trilick, Co Tyrone, to the same landfill early next year.
It could be worth more than €1m in extra revenue for Donegal County Council.
Donegal councillor Thomas Pringle said last night that a decline in the amount of waste going into the south Donegal landfill this year had meant there was extra capacity at the landfill.
"The landfill was upgraded and gate fees increased, which has meant that refuse collectors are going to other landfills and there was spare capacity at Ballintra," he said.
"We were briefed on the situation by the county manager and, basically, it improves the budgetary situation for Donegal County Council, so members accepted it."
He added that the waste had originated in the Republic and should be returned here.
"I'm sure there is some Donegal waste in it too," he said.
The illegal dumping of an estimated quarter of a million tonnes of waste across the Border between 2002 and 2004 coincided with the introduction of a landfill levy in the Republic.
The levy prompted a steady rise in gate fees for legal operators at landfills, with charges reaching €200 a tonne by 2004, four times more than the cost in the North.
It emerged in early 2004 that up to 10,000 tonnes of waste from 13 different counties in the Republic was dumped in a site in Co Tyrone.
Criminal gangs from both sides of the Border are believed to have been involved in the illegal waste disposal trade.
The repatriation of waste, which could take years to complete, was trashed out in an agreement in 2007 and finalised in 2009.