Irish minister raises spectre of EU waste fine

Dempsey attacks local authorities over absent, inadequate, waste management plans

Ireland's environment minister, Noel Dempsey, has sought to shock local governments into creating waste management plans as required under EU law by warning that the country will otherwise face fines running to millions of euros imposed by the European Court of Justice.

In a newspaper interview yesterday and again today on national television, Mr Dempsey stressed that Ireland was facing condemnation by the court in a case announced by the European Commission in late 1998 (ENDS Daily 15 December 1998). The Commission claims that the failure to produce waste management plans means Ireland is in breach of the 1975 framework waste directive, the 1991 waste directive and the 1994 packaging directive.

Mr Dempsey said that the case was likely "to be accelerated and fines will be imposed on us". In fact, no fines could be levied at this stage because the power only exists if EU countries are condemned a second time over the same infringement, a prospect that would be years away in this case.

Where local waste management plans have been adopted, Mr Dempsey complained that they were too often "politically correct" and unfeasible. He criticised councils that had decided to outlaw landfilling and incineration and to rely entirely on waste minimisation, recycling and composting.

An environment ministry spokesperson told ENDS Daily that banning both landfilling and incineration was unrealistic given that Ireland currently landfills about 90% of its municipal solid waste.

Follow Up:
Irish environment ministry, tel: +353 1 888 2000; Irish Times article.

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