Fugitive waste collector ordered to allow access to illegal dump

High Court rules Jim Ferry must let EPA enter his land to investigate Co Donegal site

Jim Ferry, who for several years operated an illegal dump in an area of special conversation on the edge of Lough Swilly.

Jim Ferry, who for several years operated an illegal dump in an area of special conversation on the edge of Lough Swilly.


The High Court has ordered fugitive Donegal waste collector Jim Ferry to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to enter his land to investigate an illegal dump with a view to it being cleaned.

It also directed that Ferry must pay all costs involved and be invoiced for them on a monthly basis if necessary. Ferry is on the run from the High Court and is liable to arrest.

Ferry has also been ordered to say how much he was allegedly paid by Wers Waste of Galway, the company to which he claims to have sold his business, and to hand over any such payment and any further money due to him from the alleged sale.

Orders were issued on Monday by the High Court at the request of Donegal County Council. They were made against Ferry and his two companies, Ferry’s Refuse Collection Limited, and Ferrys Refuse Recycling Limited.

For several years Ferry operated an illegal dump on land at Rossbracken, an area of special conversation on the edge of Lough Swilly. He operated as a licensed collector of household and other refuse in Co Donegal.

Much of the waste had been buried at locations around the 11-acre site at Rossbracken or stored in sheds or strewn about the site. It was supposed to have been disposed of legally, via licensed landfills or by incineration or sent for recycling.

Site raided

In November 2016 the Rossbracken site near Letterkenny was raided by Donegal County Council, together with the area’s Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authority, an entity that operates under the Department of the Environment. Inspectors found 28,022-36,170 tons of waste buried there illegally and estimated the cost of removal at up to €5.8 million.

On August 22nd the High Court ordered for Ferry to be arrested and jailed until he complied with an April order to clean up the site. However, he left court before he could be taken into custody and remains a fugitive.

Shortly after this, a fire broke out in the large shed on the site, entrances to which were blocked. Fire broke out again in early September, but in both instances Donegal fire brigade was able to access the site and extinguish the blazes.

In the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Barrett granted an order directing Ferry, his servants and agents to give the EPA access to the Rossbracken site and allow them to work without any obstruction or hindrance.

Geophysical inspection

EPA inspectors are to be allowed carry out what are known as tier 2 and tier 3 assessments under the Waste Management Acts.

These involve examining dumped waste by use of geophysics and by drilling boreholes into mounds to determine what in inside them and the extent to which leachate (toxic liquid) is leaking from the material, and whether, and how, the waste should be removed from the site and disposed of safely and legally.

The order requires Ferry to pay for this. Mr Justice Barrett said that the council was “at liberty to issue invoices for such costs at monthly intervals or longer as they may decide”. It said that if he wishes to challenge any of the bills, he must do so within seven days of their being issued.

The judge also ordered Ferry and his companies to provide “a proper financial statement” showing what happened to “the seven-figure sum which has been avoided by the estimated tonnage of waste (in excess of 30,000 tonnes) which has been unlawfully disposed within the [Rossbracken] site instead of being sent for proper disposal”.

In earlier proceedings Ferry claimed to have sold his companies to Wers Waste of Galway. Mr Justice Barrett directed Ferry to tell the council the sale price and to hand over that money to it.

Any money still owed to Ferry from the alleged sale was also to be paid over and credited against the cost of the EPA investigation.