Friends of the Earth Reaction to BBC Spotlight Programme On Illegal Dumping
Could this happen in County Down? Are we safe? With our pristine landscape in the Lecale area, Strangford Lough and Mournes of immense value to tourism, the blight of illegal dumping has been largely avoided so far. But farther afield an environmental furore has emerged following breaches in planning and environment laws.
A BBC Spotlight programme shown last night, and repeated tonight on BBC 2 Northern Ireland, highlights the threat to Northern Ireland from the illegal dump at Campsie, Derry/Londonderry, which could be the largest in Europe.
James Orr, Director Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland, said : “It’s upsetting to think Northern Ireland is the best in Europe at illegal dumping.
What is more shocking about this case is that the government knew about this monster dump for years and did nothing. Time and time again, no one seems to be held to account.
“The government has again failed to get its act together and the waste industry must come clean. The widespread nature of unlawful dumping and other evidence  demands a judge-led investigation into the murky political, criminal and financial world of the waste industry and its links to the mining industry.
“When it comes to looking after the health of our environment and the health of our people we know that this is only one of many illegal dumps. The cost of clean-up and tax avoidance from illegal dumping here could be as high as half a billion pounds with numerous environmental timebombs ticking away in every county.
“All the evidence points to the obvious fact that we need an Environmental Protection Agency for years to sort out these problems once and for all.”
Mr Orr added that “for many years the Strategic Planning Division of DOE(NI) declined to take formal enforcement action against six large unauthorised quarries which have now become the repositories for this illegal waste. None of these retrospective planning applications (the oldest submitted in 2000) have ever been approved.
“Despite this, the planning authority considered it appropriate to allow unauthorised extraction to continue unregulated, which provided the cover for waste crime on an unprecedented scale. Moreover, the DOE were aware of the environmental threats for many years before any action was taken.”
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