Dáil Éireann - Volume 537 - 30 May, 2001
Written Answers. - Waste Management.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
202. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if he has changed his plans in respect of legislations affecting waste management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16306/01]
Mr. Dempsey Mr. Dempsey
Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey): The Waste Management (Amendment) Bill, 2001 has been passed by Seanad Eireann and I expect shortly to commence the Second Stage of the Bill in Dáil Éireann.
The main purpose of this Bill is to provide a legal mechanism by which to bring the current waste management planning process to an early and satisfactory conclusion, in accordance with our EU obligations. Currently, three out of 15 local authorities in three regional groups have refused to adopt the proposed regional plan that is before them. These authorities, in effect, are obstructing progress on the part of the majority and impeding the delivery of improved waste services and the development of an effective and safe waste infrastructure.
Accordingly, the Government has decided that the power to make a waste management plan should be transferred from the elected members of a local authority to the relevant manager, and to make other supporting legislative amendments.
These amendments will allow local authority management to conclude the planning process and remove any perceived obstacles to the effective implementation of regional plans. It will clear the way to deliver on all aspects of waste modernisation – segregated collection services, higher recycling and recovery performance, and a dramatic reduction in disposal to landfill.
In bringing forward this amending legislation, I am also taking the opportunity of providing a statutory basis for a number of other important waste management and anti-litter measures, including a new environmental levy of up to 15p on the supply by retailers of plastic shopping bags and, potentially, the extension of the levy to other products which are problematic in waste management terms; a levy on the landfill of waste, at an initial rate of not more than £15 per tonne; the establishment of an environment fund, through which the proceeds of these levies will be disbursed to finance beneficial environmental initiatives in a range of areas including waste management, environmental education and awareness, and an increase in the on-the-spot litter fine to £100 and provision for future changes in the level of the fine.
It is also proposed to make a number of technical amendments to the Waste Management Act, 1996, to bring legal clarity to the licensing, by the  Environmental Protection Agency, of certain waste activities.
I am satisfied that the measures provided for in the Waste Management (Amendment) Bill, 2001 are necessary and desirable, and I have no proposals for substantive amendment of this Bill.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
203. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government his preferred options regarding waste management; if he favours landfill, recycling or other methods or a combination of methods; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16307/01]
Mr. Dempsey Mr. Dempsey
Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey): The preferred approach to waste management is set out in the 1998 policy statement on waste management – Changing our Ways – copies of which are in the Oireachtas Library.
Changing our Ways advocated a major reduction in reliance on landfill, in favour of an integrated waste management approach utilising a range of waste treatment options to deliver effective and efficient waste services and ambitious recycling and recovery targets. It outlined some of the main issues associated with the use of alternative collection systems and waste treatment technologies, and pointed out that no one solution can address all waste management requirements. Local authorities were advised to identify and fully assess the various issues involved, with a view to identifying the nature, scale and mix of facilities which in their circumstances appeared to offer the best balance between maximised recovery of materials or energy, and minimised environmental emissions, at reasonable cost.
Having regard to the policy, and the waste recovery targets, set out in Changing our Ways, local and regional waste management plans incorporate proposals for household segregation and separate collection of organic and dry recyclable wastes in urban areas; an extended network of “bring” facilities in rural areas, with specified target densities; an increased network of civic amenity sites and waste transfer stations; a range of centralised composting and other biological treatment facilities; support for home composting, especially in rural areas; thermal treatment facilities, and landfill facilities for the environmentally safe disposal of residual wastes.
Dáil Éireann 537 Written Answers. Waste Management.