Illegal landfilling at both the City Industrial Waste site near Gorticross and the Campsie Sand and Gravel site just across the road was facilitated by lax enforcement by the DoE planning office and ultimately resulted in £34.6m in tax being evaded, it’s been revealed.
A new report into the unprecedented levels of illegal waste dumping - exposed by former Environment Minister Alex Attwood earlier this year - also reveals that the PSNI believes waste management in Northern Ireland generally is being used by organised criminals to launder money.
Former Welsh Environment Agency chief Chris Mills reported on Wednesday (December 18) how 516,000 tonnes of waste had been buried at both City Industrial Waste and at Campsie Sand and Gravel, a quarrying operation immediately opposite, from 2009 at least.
“The dumping of the waste took place in and around a licensed Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) facility owned and operated by City Industrial Waste Ltd. with the waste being deposited partly in a closed landfill site but mainly in a series of sand and gravel workings excavated by Campsie Sand and Gravel Ltd,” the report concludes.
“The illegal dumping appears to have been highly organised and took place over a number of years, and has the hallmarks of organised crime involvement,” it adds.
Mr Mills is highly critical of the regulatory authorities stating that the planning office played “a pivotal role” in authorising developments, that were ultimately used for illegal dumping at Mobuoy Road.
“DOE Planning also had a pivotal role to play in the authorisation of both the MRF facility and Campsie Sand and Gravel Ltd.
“A key issue being that Campsie Sand and Gravel was able to dig extensive pits without first obtaining planning permission and then to apply for retrospective permission. The ability to do this provided the receptacles which enabled the subsequent illegal dumping of the waste in such a vast quantity,” it states.
The report includes details of testimony proffered by the River Faughan Anglers who have long complained about retrospective applications for Faughanside extraction.
Although the authorities don’t know who dumped the waste - much of it is shredded beyond identification - Mr Mills believes the dumping “is rooted in the fact that criminals and organised crime view waste management as a highly lucrative way to make money.”
He states that “an estimate of the tax evaded due to the illegal dumping at Mobuoy is a minimum of £34.6 million” and that ineffective legislation, low sentences for dumping and pollution convictions are also part of the problem. Mr Mills also believes the race to avoid huge European landfill fines may be ripe for exploitation by criminals.
“The use of lowest cost tenders would make it easy for criminals posing as legitimate waste contractors to undercut legitimate businesses and could result in public and private sector money inadvertently funding criminal activity,” he states.