Waste enforcement priorities
The areas that have been prioritised for enforcement are:
- Litter Pollution Act 1997
- Waste Management Act 1996
- Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001
- Protection of the Environment Act 2003
- Waste Management (Packaging) Regulations 2007
- Waste Management (Facility Permit and Registration)(Amendment) Regulations 2008
- Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2008
Littering is mainly casual and rarely premeditated. Illegal dumping may be planned and may involve participation or connivance of land owner with person(s) dumping, and/or payment of one party by another. Illegal dumping occurs on a number of levels or in varying degrees of seriousness.
Many sites are known, often recurring shortly after clean-ups are done, often in bogland and forest areas, due at least partly to illegal collection of wastes. (See 'Illegal Collection of Waste' below). The existence of several others is suspected, locating them requires major effort, in cooperation with neighbouring local authorities, property owners, and the Gardai. Once located, the site is investigated and where possible, action taken under the Waste Management and Litter Pollution Acts through:
- the issue of Section 55 Notices, which require certain measures to be carried out within a specified time frame
- the issue of litter fines
- the issue of Section 18 Notices under the Waste Management Acts, which require certain information to be submitted
- the issue of warning letters etc.
Note: The distinction made between 'illegal dumping' and this related activity is that this activity is generally more formal, may be organised on a business footing, occurs on accessible sites, and may in some cases be amenable to legitimization if a waste permit is applied for – whereas 'illegal dumping' is more typically opportunistic but concentrated dumping in a bog, or forest, or other isolated place.
Filling of small sites to raise land levels, for building, agricultural or other purposes, has been going on as a routine activity in Clare as in other counties for many years. Few developers or their professional advisers appear to have a consciousness of the concept of such "dry filling" and subsoil materials as wastes coming under environmental legislation. Bigger sites are also being filled with CDW materials.
It is suspected that some sites, big and small, in which CDW materials are being deposited also contain concealed domestic and other putrescible and polluting wastes.
This activity is related to some extent to disposal of construction-demolition waste, in that filling of sites by seemingly inert CDW may be used to conceal domestic or other polluting wastes. This is suspected to be happening in various parts of the county. It is also possible, although there are no currently suspect sites, that quarries and similar sites may be used for burial of other polluting wastes.
There are approximately 54 bring banks sites in the county, some of them incorporating plastic bottle banks.
Illegal dumping of recyclable materials and general wastes - Public users leave cardboard boxes, plastic/paper bags etc. at the site after putting recyclable in bring banks. Users also leave bags and boxes of recyclable beside banks whether banks are full or not. General waste, grass cuttings, etc are also left.
Businesses abusing facilities - A number of publicans, newsagents, and small shops use facilities that are provided for domestic users.
Vandalism to banks - defacement, burning, overturning to spill contents, etc.
Seasonal variations affecting both compliant customers and abusers – e.g. fast filling of banks in tourist areas in summer, with collection contractors unable to keep pace, extra packaging and food wastes after Christmas, surges of recycling after bank holiday weekends.
Collector permits are issued by NWCPO, National Waste Collection Permit Office, Co Offally, to collectors based in and/or collecting wastes in Clare.
It has come to the attention of Clare County Council that there are a number of un- permitted waste collectors operating in the county.
Under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations, 2001, all waste collectors must have a valid waste collection permit.
If any member of the public is found to be using an illegal or un-authourised collector they will be liable for a litter fine or may be prosecuted under the Litter Pollution Act 1997, Waste Management Act 1996, as amended and Protection of the Environment Act 2003 to a maximum of €130,000. A householder can also be billed for the cost of removing illegally dumped waste.
If a collector comes to your door, or advertises in fliers offering to collect your waste (clean out your garage, remove old washing machines, fridges and domestic rubbish), ask to see a copy of their valid waste collection permit. NWCPO, Co Offaly, issues waste collection permits for the Country. Roadside checkpoints are held, in co-operation with the Gardai, throughout the county, on a regular basis to try and prevent this form of illegal waste collection.
If you have doubts as to a collector's authenticity, check NWCPO, website, or contact Clare County Council's Environmental Enforcement Unit on 065 6846238 or 6846406 for information.
Information regarding suspicious collectors can be passed on in confidence to Clare County Council on the Anti Litter Hotline on 1-800-606706. Your co-operation is necessary to provide a cleaner and healthier environment.
A dedicated multi-disciplinary Enforcement Team headed by a Senior Executive Engineer, was established to police and prosecute breaches of law. In relation to enforcement of waste management legislation activities undertaken include carrying out of some or all of the following activities:
- For the compliant majority, designation of dedicated persons to improve the conduct of regulatory activities
- Use of closed circuit television, both fixed and mobile, in suitable situations
- Employment of private investigators for surveillance and evidence collection in major cases
- Use of aerial surveys to detect illegal dumping in mountainous, forest and bogland areas
- Tracking of suspect vehicle movements in appropriate cases
- Increase in the visibility and patrolling activity of our existing Environmental Patrol Wardens (E.P.W.) and Community Wardens (C.W.) to improve litter control in town centres, beaches, and other amenity areas, and during special events
- Improvement and streamlining of means of receiving complaints and reports from the public
- Inclusion of agriculture and emptying of septic tanks in enforcement of collector permits
- Use of a publicity campaign in local press and radio about step-up in enforcement activities, and refresher campaigns from time to time on major current enforcement issues
- Placement of strong emphasis on enforcement drive in our continuing environmental education and awareness campaign
- Planning of an information campaign on the dangers of illegal burning of wastes
- Carry out weekend inspections for burning of wastes
- Continuation and intensification of efforts already under way to build up information on packaging, farm plastics, and plastic bags regulations – including sending out questionnaires, populating databases, inspections at front yard of materials going in and out
- Carry out waste characterisation surveys to update information already gathered
- Seeking formal agreement with Gardai to provide support for E.P.W./C.W. on patrol
- Working with Garda support in inspecting premises, and in checking vehicles at road checkpoints to detect unpermitted collections, with detention and impoundment of vehicles where appropriate
- Making arrangements with Coillte and other forest owners, and with owners of boglands, for joint surveys to locate illegal dumping
- Co-ordination of the County Council's programme closely with those of Ennis and Kilrush Town Councils in their capacity as litter enforcement authorities
- Establishment of close cooperation with all neighbouring local authorities – share information, hold regular meetings, pool staff and vehicle resources to pursue and investigate cross-border activities
- Co-ordination of Clare County Council's activities with any activities in the county by the E.P.A.'s Office of Environmental Enforcement, so as to avoid duplication of effort
- Enlisting compliant local operators in waste industry as allies in notifying illegal activities
- Establishing relationships with trade representative associations, federations, lobby groups - pubs, hotels, hardware, retail, etc
- Encouraging all staff of County and Town Councils, including area offices, to watch for and report suspected illegal activities – emphasise that environmental enforcement drive is not solely the preserve of the Environment Section
- Development of sponsorship or adoption scheme for bring banks and any other facilities or activities at local community level
- Making active use of relationships between Councils and Tidy Towns Committees and other environmentally active community groups
The following specific activities are receiving attention:
- Illegal dumping
- Abuse of bring banks
- Burning of waste
- Burial of waste
- Unpermitted waste collection and breach of collector permit
- Unpermitted waste activities and breach of waste permit
- Disposal of construction-demolition waste (CDW)
- Segregation of waste by householders
- Packaging Regulations
- Plastic Bags Regulations
- Farm Plastics Regulations
- Export of hazardous wastes
- Other situation-specific regulations
Our Environmental Community Wardens each have responsibility for their assigned area. Their day to day patrols are carried out throughout these areas, in both a pro-active patrol capacity and in response to complaints received from members of the public.
Details available in relation to the breadth of their work and geographical spread relate to the complaints logged in the Environment Section, which are all followed up on by a site visit by the Patrol Warden, leading to resolution on site, warnings (verbal and written) being issued, or further administrative follow up within the section in terms of the issue of enforcement notices, further visits to sites by engineers or other enforcement staff.
Clear progress has been made in the areas of enforcement and in particular in the regulation of waste activities. This is shown through the significant increase in applications for waste permit and waste collection permits over the past number of months.
In addition to the statistical information provided, which gives an overview of the statutory enforcement actions taken by the enforcement team in working with the non-compliant minority, the Enforcement team is also playing an active role in working in an educational and advisory capacity, to ensure compliance and regulation across the county.
We see these successes being a direct result of the spirit of co-operation and partnership that is being cultivated with all sectors, from liaison with Gardai, statutory bodies, through to increased levels of co-operation with other local authorities and with the public in general.
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