Irish minister hit with legal action over waste storage

Green group Friends of the Irish Environment are starting legal proceedings against the minister for the environment over claims of holding waste without the proper licences.

The action against John Gormley, minister for the department of environment, heritage and local government since 2007, relates to the use of Haulbowline Island, County Cork, for waste storage.

The group say under Irish law any person, or body, holding waste for more than six months must have a licence.

And, any licence would require an environmental impact assessment and public consultation, which have not been carried out at the site.

The former steelworks site, which actually belongs to the ministry of finance, has what Mr Gormley has described in the past as ‘unique environmental concerns’ in the area because of previous heavy industry there.

As well as that FIE say ‘there is serious environmental pollution at the site as a result of holding, recovering or disposing of waste’.

A spokesman said: “We have repeatedly written to the ministers involved requesting them to apply to the Environmental Protection Agency for a Waste Licence but nothing has been done.

“Our solicitors are today informing the minister of our intentions.”

A spokesman for the department said the legalities would be dealt with by its legal advisers.

He said: “It has always been stated that a sustainable solution to the Haulbowline site would entail all the necessary waste licensing and would include all the relevant stakeholders.

“I should like to take this opportunity to point out that the site actually belongs to the minister of finance on behalf of the Government and that they ultimately will sign off on any future action regarding Haulbowline.”

Luke Walsh

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