Strabane District Council in County Tyrone was fined by magistrates for storing municipal waste at a site in Newtownstewart without a waste management licence.

But the council is defiant insisting it will continue using the site.

It argues it has been “trying to secure planning permission for the site for four years and voiced “disappointment” planners and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) could not have “cooperated more”.

In a statement to local newspaper, the Strabane Chronicle, a spokesman said: “Our application has failed to progress despite our best efforts professionally and politically.

“Officers have been contacting the planning service on an ongoing basis and we have written to the environment minister twice and tabled a question at Stormont.

“This delay in the planning application has equated with a delay in securing a licence with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

“It is unfortunate both agencies could not have co-operated more and taken cognisance of the delay in planning, particularly as they are both under the auspices of one government department.”

The NIEA said officers found a “substantial” amount of municipal waste stored by the council in a shed at the Strabane Road site and separated into dry recyclables and normal domestic waste.

The agency said during one inspection a council vehicle dumped a load of waste road sweepings onto the site.

But no waste management licence existed for the site and the NIEA said the site was in poor condition.

It says the council continues to operate the site despite repeated warnings to stop waste activities and remove the existing waste.

The council spokesman insists the council will continue to use the site.

He said: “We are confident that this facility does not cause a nuisance.

“There has been no pollution and we have received no complaints about the site. We will continue to operate out of this site on a temporary basis until another waste transfer site is identified with the planners.”

Strabane District Council was fined a total of £20,500 plus £37 costs at Strabane Magistrates’ Court on Friday, June 26 for the breaches.

David Gibbs

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