Councils to get increased powers to eradicate illegal dumping

Anti-litter legislation effective from July will enable local authorities to demand proof from householders of responsible waste management.

Councils to get increased powers to eradicate illegal dumping

The legislation intends to standardise waste collection services and enhance investigation and enforcement powers for local authorities.

It is part of a wider Department of Environment policy document instigated by former environment and local government minister, Phil Hogan, in 2012 which is to be phased in over a year.

The final section of implementation will empower council officials to call to properties — council or private — and seek such proof as amenity site receipts, compost bins usage or contact details of third parties, to verify the householder is legally disposing of waste.

Householders who fail to provide adequate evidence may be issued on-the-spot fines, with failure to pay resulting in likely court proceedings. In a bid to encourage more recycling from July, waste collection services will be obliged to furnish clients with regular statements outlining the weight of their waste.

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Waterford Council’s director of services for the environment and water, Fergus Galvin believes the measures will help greatly to eradicate illegal dumping across the country.

“Like many places, Waterford is suffering environmentally and economically from fly tipping in our towns and countryside,” he said.

“Presently, councils can seek evidence of responsible waste disposal but where individuals do not comply, it can be a very costly and cumbersome process to bring a successful prosecution,” he said.

Waterford Council will not operate a ‘big brother’-like policy, he said.

“We will, as always, apply the law where we have reasonable suspicion of illegal waste management,” he said.

Its 2015 budget for waste management is €447,000, including grants and support to community groups and clean-up operations. With the council having ceased providing household waste collection services last January, six private collection companies now operate in the city and county.

Mr Galvin estimates a figure of up to 15% may be unaccountable from the council’s client base, with obvious concerns some may now be fly-tipping. However, he does not foresee price hikes in lieu of mandatory weight statements.

“About 400,000 households are signed up to collection by weight nationally and most trucks already have a computerised weight measuring mechanism,” he added.

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