Mr Cullen said criticisms from the Labour Party and Fine Gael were unwarranted, after opposition spokespersons criticised his Protection of Environment Bill in the Dáil.
“They are talking about this legislation leading to refuse charges of up to 700. That’s what it will cost households if we do nothing and just keep dumping everything,” he said.
“All over the country, there are recycling and other facilities but we need to do a lot more. I think people understand that there has to be a mix of recycling, re-use, some landfilling and some thermal treatment,” the minister said.
Mr Cullen said he wants no more debates or reports on waste management but wants to get recycling and other initiatives moving.
The minister said the proposal for the country’s first hazardous waste incinerator, turned down by Cork County Council this week, would be very important in allowing heavy industry develop in Ireland.
He was speaking yesterday before a meeting of the General Council of County Councils (GCCC) in Cork. But the body representing the country’s 800 councillors is concerned about taking away the decision-making process from elected representatives.
While Mr Cullen is unhappy with the reluctance of some local authorities to adopt waste management strategies, councillors are apprehensive about the new laws.
Liam Kenny, director of the GCCC, said the costs of dealing with waste was much higher than was ever expected.
“It’s not going to be easy to find the right balance between central and local funding for the massively expensive business of handling our waste,” he said.
GCCC chairman John Egan, a Fianna Fáil member of North Tipperary County Council, said there was apprehension about plans to transfer the power to impose refuse charges from councils to managers.
“It is a diminution of power and it would give managers a bit more power than we would be happy with.”