Tuesday, 8 February 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
534. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the statement by Race Against Waste that uncontrolled burning of waste is one of the biggest threats to the Irish environment today due to the fact that it releases dioxins; the steps he has taken to ensure that this practice, which is widespread, is discontinued; the number of prosecutions that have taken place nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3715/05]
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): Backyard burning of domestic waste is now considered to contribute significantly to dioxin emissions, more so than any planned use of thermal treatment. It is my view that the best way to tackle this phenomenon is to develop awareness of the environmental and health consequences, while also ensuring that there is a strong and effective regulatory regime in place.
As part of the very successful Race Against Waste Campaign, a series of leaflets dealing with different strands of waste management has been published. The feedback to date has been extremely positive and backed up by exceptional demand.
Turning to the current regulatory regime, under the Air Pollution Act 1987, the occupier of any premises, other than a private dwelling, is required to use the best practicable means to limit and, if possible to prevent, an emission of a pollutant into the atmosphere from such premises. In addition, the occupier of any premises is prohibited from causing or permitting an emission in such a quantity or manner as to be a nuisance. The Act empowers a local authority to serve a notice on the occupier of any premises from which there is an emission specifying the measures necessary to prevent or limit air pollution.
The Waste Management Act 1996 also places a general duty on the holder of waste not to hold, transport, recover or dispose of waste in a manner that causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution. Local authorities have specific powers under the Act to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit environmental pollution caused by the holding or disposal of waste, and mitigate or remedy the effects on the environment of any such activity.
In addition, section 20(5) of the Fire Services Act 1981 provides that a fire authority may serve a fire safety notice on the owner or occupier of land on which a flammable, explosive or potentially explosive substance is used, stored or deposited adjacent to buildings in such a manner as to represent a serious danger to life. The fire safety notice may require that specified measures be taken to reduce the level of danger.
Finally, under Part VII of the Local Government Act 1994, it is open to a local authority to make by-laws in the interests of the common good of the local community that any activity should be regulated or controlled.
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