STRONGER laws against waste disposal by so-called backyard burning have been signed by Environment Minister John Gormley.
Failure to comply with the new regulations is an offence and fines of up to €3,000 are applicable for summary offences brought to court.
Existing controls were of a general nature but the new regulations prohibit all burning, including burning waste in a domestic fireplace, unless covered by, for example, a waste licence.
Local authorities will be asked to add enforcement of the new regulations to their 2009/2010 priorities for the more than 120 waste enforcement officers currently being supported by grant aid from the Environment Fund at a cost of some €7.4m. The new regulations include exemptions until 2014 for certain agricultural practices, but only as a last resort for activities which require registration with local authorities.
Local authorities may also exempt certain local cultural events.
In 2005, 80% of local authorities identified backyard burning as a significant problem.
In 2007, the EPA estimated that 20% of households do not avail of waste collection, and with participation are as low as 55% in some areas, the likelihood was that a significant percentage of such waste is being burned. Uncontrolled combustion such as home and backyard burning of waste is estimated to be the biggest source of Ireland’s dioxin emissions.
Mr Gormley said that the burning is not acceptable and must be challenged.
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