Green MLA Stephen Agnew says systemic failures and a lack of cross-departmental co-ordination allowed “utterly disgraceful” levels of illegal landfilling take place at Mobuoy Road over the past four years.
The MLA, who has repeatedly raised the issue of illegal dumping by the Faughan at Stormont, pointed out that concerns were initially raised about the site by Derry City Council as far back as 2007.
But, he said, there was no departmental follow up and the actual scale of the problem was only revealed last year.
Responding to the Mills report, which was published on Wednesday (December 18), Mr Agnew blasted: “This report has removed any confidence we had as a party in the Department of the Environment (DoE) to be able to properly manage or protect the environment from these very serious offences.”
He asked: “The illegal dumping at Mobuoy was on an industrial scale and yet we are expected to accept that nobody knew it was happening?”
Mr Agnew also claimed the problem was not confined to Mobuoy Road, which was likely just the tip of the iceberg.
“While the Mobuoy site is an utter disgrace, it is just one example of the many illegal dumping sites in Northern Ireland.
“At this point, there at least 20 other sites under investigation but I imagine that is just the tip of a very big and polluting rubbish iceberg festering under our countryside,” he said.
The Green MLA said enforcement and penalties for environmental crime are not robust and that the problem needs to be addressed urgently as recommended by Mr Mills.
“The Mills Report is damning in terms of how the DOE has failed under successive Ministers to tackle this problem seriously.
“There have been systemic failures and a lack of joined-up planning or co-ordinated actions between relevant Executive departments which have failed to work together to enforce planning policy, prevent illegal dumping or pursue those responsible for it,” he said.