Dáil Éireann - Volume 531 - 22 February, 2001

Ceisteanna–Questions. Priority Questions. - Waste Management.

4. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the total amount of money spent on recycling activity since July 1997; the total amount of money provided [334] for recycling in the national development plan; the number of incinerators provided for in the national development plan; the measures he plans to take to deal with the waste crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5262/01]

Mr. Dempsey: Under the EU-funded Operational Programme for Environmental Services, 1994-99, £7.1 million in grant assistance was allocated in respect of 70 projects for the provision of recycling infrastructure in the period since January 1997. This does not take account of local authority capital and operational expenditure in support of recycling initiatives.

Based on information then arising from the waste management planning process, it was estimated for the purposes of the national development plan that £650 million in capital investment would be required to provide necessary waste infrastructure in the period to 2006. More recent information on capital investment projections in waste management plans indicates an estimated capital investment requirement of £780 million at 1998-99 prices. Facilities associated with recycling and biological treatment account for approximately £215 million or 28% of this figure. Operational costs associated with the provision of waste management services by the private and public sectors are also likely to be significant.

Having provided for extensive segregation and separate collection of dry recyclable and organic wastes and maximum achievable recycling and biological treatment of wastes, existing and proposed regional waste management plans identify a requirement for five to six thermal treatment facilities to recover energy from waste which cannot otherwise be treated before landfill.

It is imperative that the current waste management planning process is brought to a satisfactory conclusion as a matter of urgency in order that immediate progress can be made in the delivery of improved waste services and the integrated infrastructure necessary to meet modern waste management requirements. I have considered all available options and I am satisfied that further statutory measures are necessary. Accordingly, I will bring forward appropriate measures in the Waste Management (Amendment) Bill, 2001, which will be published shortly.

It is my intention to act on this matter in order that the good work done in the past three years towards the implementation of a sustainable waste policy, with high emphasis on prevention, minimisation and recycling, as well as suitable treatment and disposal options, will be brought to fruition.

Mr. Gilmore: The Minister provided an overall figure of £215 million for recycling and biological treatment of waste. Will he break this figure down as between money allocated for dry recycling and biological treatment? What statutory measures is he proposing to introduce? I appreciate that the legislation is in preparation. Since he indicated that legislation will be intro[335] duced, what statutory measures is he proposing to advance his plans to build five or six incinerators?

Mr. Dempsey: Despite his best efforts, the Deputy should be aware that I have no plans to build any thermal treatment or incineration facilities. I have plans to terminate the three year waste management planning process to ensure we have integrated waste management facilities and that nationally and locally we respect the waste hierarchy to which all Members at least pay lip-service, whatever about taking decisions. I have no plans to directly provide thermal waste facilities.

Mr. Gilmore: It is in the plan. The reply mentions five or six thermal treatment facilities.

Mr. Dempsey: They are not my plans. They are regional waste management plans drawn up by local authorities in full consultation with their members and the public.

Mr. Gilmore: The Minister is washing his hands of everything.

Ms O. Mitchell: Pontius Pilate.

Mr. Dempsey: The plans have been published and are in draft form. Deputy Gilmore knows that local authorities have full responsibility in this area. I have laid down a clear policy for them. I do not have a breakdown of the figure as between dry and wet recyclables, but I will forward the information to the Deputy.

Mr. Gilmore: The Minister did not answer my second question. He informed us that he will introduce new statutory measures. Can he tell us what those measures are?

Mr. Dempsey: No, because it is not customary for details to be given to the House before the Government has finished its deliberations on a Bill.

Mr. Gilmore: That is extraordinary. On the Order of Business the Taoiseach informed the House that, because of the urgency of the matter, the legislation will be brought forward and that the Government was greatly exercised by the issue. The Minister is not doing himself any service by pretending he has no plans for the building of incinerators and then talking about legislation, details of which he will not give to the House. This is insulting treatment. Legislation has been promised and it is not unreasonable to ask the Minister to indicate, in general terms, the principal measures for which he proposes to legislate.

Mr. Dempsey: The last time we gave the Deputy information on the principal measures we intended to include in a Bill—

[336] Mr. Gilmore: The Government hid part of the truth on that occasion.

Mr. Dempsey: —we were accused of hiding things, being economical with the truth and so on.

Mr. Gilmore: The Minister is now hiding everything.

An Ceann Comhairle: We must move on to Question No. 5.

Mr. Gilmore: The Minister is being deceitful.

An Ceann Comhairle: We must proceed to Question No. 5.

Mr. Dempsey: I ask the Deputy to withdraw that remark.

Mr. Gilmore: I do not intend to withdraw it.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should not accuse the Minister of being deceitful.

Mr. Gilmore: The Minister is not telling the House what he knows. I do not know what word one can use, but the Minister is withholding information.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should withdraw the word “deceitful”.

Mr. Gilmore: I will change the word, a Cheann Comhairle.

Mr. Dempsey: The Deputy should withdraw it.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should withdraw the word.

Mr. Gilmore: The Minister is not giving the information to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy's withdrawal should be unconditional.

Mr. Gilmore: The Minister is not giving the information to the House.

Mr. Dempsey: That is not being deceitful. The Deputy should withdraw the remark.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should withdraw the word “deceitful”.

Mr. Gilmore: I withdraw it in so far as it is used personally.

Mr. Dempsey: I thank the Deputy.

Mr. Gilmore: However, the Minister is not giving the information to the House.