CORK County Council is the worst local authority in the country for carrying out waste facility inspections.
That was one of the damning findings of an RTÉ investigation into illegal dumping and how councils regulate and prosecute waste offenders, which was broadcast earlier this week.
Meanwhile, leading West Cork operator KWD has defended its position, after the programme revealed its Killarney site, licensed to collect 40,000 tonnes of waste a year, in fact took in 170,000 tonnes more waste than allowed between 2012-2015.
Ireland’s Wild Waste, presented by Conor Ryan, also looked at 30 County Councils and their rates of inspection, as well as enforcements, prosecutions and staffing levels, between 2014 and 2016.
Out of the 30, Cork County Council was found to be the 27th worst in how it managed its waste services, ranked in the bottom five in non-routine waste inspections, staffing levels and enforcement actions.
The investigation found that between 2015 and 2016 Cork County Council spent €8.78 per person on waste services – almost half the national average of €17.22.
It further revealed it has some of the lowest waste staffing levels in the country: under two members of staff for the 78 waste permits in effect.
Defending their position, and welcoming the programme, a Council spokesperson pointed out that in 2016, they carried out ‘4,501 environmental waste inspections. Some 498 such inspections related to waste permits and illegal dumping, of which 87 were planned and 411 were on-the-spot waste inspections.
Some 1,521 waste litter complaints and 269 illegal dumping instances were also investigated during this time, with 27 prosecutions initiated.
Kerry-based KWD Recycling, a leading operator in West Cork, has assured its customers that it ‘has adopted a sustainable approach to waste management in the South West of Ireland since its foundation in 1986.’
A statement said the company wished to stress that the intake of material at its Aughacurreen recycling plant has never exceeded its operational capacity. ‘The Killarney site is now operating within its licensed tonnage. KWD applied to the EPA in 2010 for permission to increase the annual waste intake at the Aughacurreen site. This application process has been protracted but it is expected that a positive decision on this application will be forthcoming later this year. Having failed to receive a decision on a licence review application, KWD took the decision to invest in a new multi-million-euro state of the art materials recovery facility in the southern region.’
Operations at this facility at Forge Hill in Cork city began in 2016.
Other documents released to RTÉ as part of the six-month investigation, and seen by The Southern Star, show 2015 to have been a busy year in West Cork courts for offences relating to a risk of environmental pollution.
Penalties of €700 were administered in Macroom district court, €2,000 in Bantry and €500 in Skibbereen. In 2013, penalties of €1,000 and €2,000 were handed out separately in Macroom court.