Environment Minister John Gormley has announced the beefed up laws to counter a rise in uncontrolled burning of waste, a tactic often employed by those wishing to dodge the fees for legitimate disposal.

The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 make more explicit the offence of disposal of waste by uncontrolled burning and various actions are prohibited by the regulations, including such disposal within the boundaries of a dwelling.

Failure to comply with the new regulations is an offence and fines of up to €3,000 are applicable for summary offences brought to court.

“The current legislative provisions are not strong enough to tackle the wholly unacceptable practice of uncontrolled burning of waste”, said Mr Gormley.

He added: “The Environmental Protection Agency highlighted backyard burning as a significant issue in its 2005 report on ‘The Nature and Extent of Unauthorised Waste Activity in Ireland’.

“In that report the EPA indicated that 80% of local authorities had identified backyard burning as being a significant problem.”

According to the National Waste Report 2007, produced by the EPA, nationally it is estimated that a staggering 20% of households do not use a waste collection service.

In some areas participation rates are as low as 55% and while it does not necessarily follow that the same percentage of households are illegally dumping or burning their waste, as an increasing number of people take waste directly to transfer stations and recycling centres, the likelihood is that a significant percentage of such waste is being burned.

Sam Bond

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