A FAILURE to reduce landfilling over the next seven years could result in European fines and negatively affect human health in Londonderry.
The group responsible for managing waste here says that whilst preventing, reducing and recycling waste are its priorities, energy recovery - including by gasification at Strathfoyle - is also needed to meet EU targets.
A draft review of the North West Waste Management Plan (WMP) 2006-2020 (August 2013) is now open for public consultation.
It sets out to prevent waste, to reuse and recycle it, but also to recover it using gasification, in order to avoid landfilling.
The North West Region Waste Management Group (NWRWMG) warns failure to implement the plan may have significant impacts on material assets in future.
In an environmental assessment accompanying the draft plan, it is warned that: “If the NWRWMG councils cannot meet their recycling and recovery targets there is the potential for fines to be handed down from the EU, which would in turn mean less money within the regional and national economy.
“This could then have negative impacts upon population and human health within the NWRWMG region and potentially Northern Ireland as a whole.”
Already, progressively reducing landfilling allowances have been imposed on local councils.
This year Londonderry is allowed 19,390 tonnes but by 2019/20 this will fall to 13,932 tonnes.
According to the draft plan exceeding these allowances costs £150 per tonne under domestic statutory rules.
“These are statutory targets with fines of £150 per tonne, for failure to comply. There is, within the group, an agreement to share targets, to minimise the risks to individual councils.
“There is also provision within the legislation for allowances to be shared/reallocated between councils in Northern Ireland.
“Theses targets therefore represent the major driver in the management of municipal waste with waste prevention, recycling, composting and other forms of waste treatment all contributing towards compliance.”
Yet plans for an incinerator in Strathfoyle to help meet landfill targets have already provoked some opposition in Londonderry.
Dr Paul Connett, a retired toxicologist, and Mal Williams, a longstanding waste campaigner from Wales, recently challenged those supporting a multi-million pound jobs-boosting incinerator in Maydown to a public debate in the city.