EU concerned at Irish dump rules


THE petitions committee of the European Parliament will today be told of the European Commission's concerns about licensing arrangements for Irish dumps.

The committee is also to be asked to repeat the Commission's request to the Minister for the Environment, Mr Howlin, for specific information on groundwater protection at a proposed 300 acre dump near Rathnew, Co Wicklow.

This follows a visit to Brussels by members of the Ballynagran Coolbeg Action Group, who are protesting against the proposed location. The group has complained officially to the Commission that the groundwater protection envisaged breaches an EU directive on landfill sites.

According to the group's spokesman, Mr Dieter Clissmann, the officials are concerned about the operation of Irish dumps on a number of levels.

Chief among these is the present licensing arrangement which allows the operator of a dump, usually the local authority, to act also as the licensing authority for the dump. The Government has decided in principle that the licensing aspect should best be carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but this has not yet been put into effect.

The Commission is also concerned about the length of time taken by successive Irish governments to implement European environment legislation.

The Leinster MEP, Mr Alan Gillis, recently wrote to the Minister for the Environment on this point and has warned that "the Commission will be considering taking an action to the European Court of Justice if there is any infringement of any of the relevant directives.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said that it was aware that the Ballynagrant dump would be on the agenda of today's committee meeting.