An independent report launched after half-a-million tonnes of waste was found to have been dumped in and around the City Industrial Waste site in Gorticross has warned the regulation of waste in Northern Ireland is highly vulnerable to criminal infiltration.
An estimated total of 516,000 tonnes of waste has been discovered by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in an area adjacent to the River Faughan in the townland of Mobuoy near Derry.
In June 2013, the then Environment Minister Alex Attwood, revoked the license of the operator following an unprecedented investigation into allegations of large scale criminal offending involving the disposal of waste.
He commissioned an independent report from Mr Chris Mills, the former Director of the Welsh Environment Agency.
The key finding from the Mills report is that the regulation of waste in Northern Ireland is highly vulnerable to criminal infiltration. It is, though, not unique to Northern Ireland but happens in GB and RoI.
The report also highlights the vast profits with low deterrents that criminals can exploit.
A key recommendation from the report is that there is a need to consider our entire waste system, to understand how criminals can exploit it and to be more rigorous and robust in regulatory activity and stopping criminals entering the waste industry.
Mark H Durkan said: “My predecessor, Alex Attwood MLA, commissioned this review because of his serious concerns about the scale of illegal dumping at the Campsie site and the regulation and management of waste across the north.
“I received the report on the 10th of December. It makes for sober reading. Mr Mills is clear in pointing out that we have serious problems right across our waste systems.
“Mr Mills provides a set of recommended actions to fix these problems. Given the scale of the problems, the implementation of these actions must be done in a powerful way that creates and delivers fundamental change.
“I am determined that this will happen as quickly as possible so that we can start building a waste system that everyone in Northern Ireland can have confidence in.
“I have directed the new Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to urgently prepare a robust range of actions for my consideration.
“I will issue my response to the Mills Report in the new year so that everyone is clear about the actions that will be taken to fix the problems that Mr Mills has identified.
“In the meantime, I am releasing Mr Mills’ Report so that everyone has access to his important findings and recommendations. I know that many people are keen to read this important report which has significant implications for how we can protect our precious environment and underpin our economy with a reformed and well-functioning waste system.
“I can assure you though, we have not been sitting on our hands awaiting the report. We have already allocated £1.5million to NIEA to upgrade its waste regulation and enforcement activities. This marks the beginning of a major strengthening of NIEA’s regulatory activities.”
The Mills Report is available here.