Northern Ireland

Irish government to pay for NI illegal waste removal

The Irish government is to spend more than 36m euros on transferring 250,000 tonnes of illegal household and commercial waste which was illegally dumped in Northern Ireland.

It will pay most of the cost while the NI tax payer will pay the rest.

Twenty sites in NI are believed to have been used for illegal cross border dumping between 2002 and 2004.

Two sites in Fermanagh and Tyrone will be the first to be excavated.

The first consignments of waste will start being removed on Wednesday from an illegal dump in Fermanagh to an approved landfill facility in Donegal.

Waste from a dump at Slattinagh, County Fermanagh, which is just over the border with County Leitrim will begin to be removed.

The work is due to take three to four weeks.

A further 18 sites have been identified by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) as containing illegally dumped municipal and commercial waste from the Republic.

It is estimated that the work to clear these sites will take five years.

BBC NI's environment correspondent Mike McKimm said the problem had arisen because of the way the bin collection system works in the Republic.

"You pay your money to a contractor and they empty your bin, unlike here where we have a council and it's all in the rates.

'Substantial'

"So you ended up, certainly in the early years, with a contractor who had your waste and your money so when he went to get rid of the waste, the cheaper it was for him to dispose of it, the more profit he made and what happened was, they simply gave it to third parties who didn't want to know where it went and it went over the hedge into fields, ditches and bogs."

Image caption Pollutants from illegal waste have leached into rivers killing fish

Mike McKimm said the money made was "substantial".

"Farmers who allowed it onto their land only got a few thousand pounds, we know that from court cases but the middle men who were organising, the brokers if you like, they were making millions of pounds," he added.

"It was said you could make more moving waste than moving drugs at one stage."

He outlined what it would cost the NI tax payer.

"We're really only paying for some of the digging and the remediation of the site," he said.

"The hauling away and all the other costs which are very expensive, including the disposal will be the real cost."

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