N Ireland gets anti-dumping powers

Measures allowing Department of the Environment officials to stop, search and seize vehicles "reasonably believed" to be involved in waste dumping came into force in March.

The Waste (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 20071 also increases penalties for illegal waste disposal. Offenders now face a maximum fine of £50,000 or up to five years in jail.

There were more than 1,200 incidents of illegal dumping last year. A fifth involved waste from the Irish Republic (ENDS Report 383, pp 18-19 ).

When deciding penalties, courts should have regard to any profit the offender has made, the Order says.

They can also confiscate vehicles, plant and machinery involved in crime and make offenders pay investigation, enforcement and clean-up costs.

The Order strengthens the waste duty of care regime, requiring registered carriers to carry their authorisation with them.

DoE officers can issue fixed penalty notices for people failing to furnish documents when asked. The department can revoke a carrier’s licence if a company breaches its conditions.

The rest of the Order relates to measures already in place in England and Wales under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (ENDS Report 369, p 34 ).

For example, it enables the government to introduce regulations requiring companies to prepare site waste management plans for construction and demolition waste (see p 43 ).

Speaking on behalf of the government in the House of Lords in February, Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton admitted the order "in itself… will not provide a sufficient deterrent to illegal waste activity."

Subordinate legislation would be required "in due course," she said. "However, this is a foundation on which an effective enforcement framework can be built."

Lord Glentoran, shadow minister for Northern Ireland, raised concerns about powers given to district councils to require landowners to remove waste illegally dumped on their land. "It is no good passing the buck to landowners," he said. "Other means and deterrents must be strong enough to prevent the casual tipper in the countryside."