An undercover investigation by RTÉ Investigates on the increasing problem of illegal dumping and how councils regulate and prosecute waste offenders has placed Donegal County Council at the bottom of a county by county league table.
For the last six months RTÉ Investigates went undercover investigating the issue.
Ahead of Monday night's RTÉ One documentary Ireland’s Wild Waste, RTÉ Investigates analysed environmental data from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Housing to determine which councils take waste offences seriously and who is left lagging behind for a special online report now available on RTE.ie. www.rte.ie/news/ investigations-unit/
By examining rates of inspections, enforcements, prosecutions and staffing levels between 2014 and 2016 they created a ranking of the best (1) and worst (30) councils at managing the waste industry.
Donegal proved the poorest performing council in Ireland for its inspection rate of its facilities and for its investment in waste services. Between 2014 and 2016 Donegal had just two members of staff to regulate the 44 waste permits in the area.
Between 2015 and 2016 Donegal spent €4.20 per person on waste management, planning and regulation services compared to the national average of €17.22, less than every other local authority compared to the amount of people living there.
In a statement to RTÉ Investigates, Donegal County Council said the analysis does not reflect all of its efforts in the area of waste management and enforcement but that it has secured funding to hire extra staff. It added Donegal County Council remains committed to addressing waste management issues and will continue its efforts to do so.
Leitrim - by contrast spent €21.24 per person on these areas – five times more than Donegal.
In Meath the council spent €36.87 per person, Longford County Council spent €29.91 per person.
Wicklow came out as the highest performing council in Ireland for managing waste services, between 2014 and 2016 Wicklow completed 6,174 non-routine inspections, four times the national average of 1,371.
When illegal dumpers pollute the environment, it’s the Irish taxpayer who is left to foot the bill so people rely on their local authorities to regulate a large portion of Ireland's booming waste industry.The level of investment in waste regulation and enforcement varies significantly depending on the county you live in.
According to official statistics returned to the Environmental Protection Agency, local authorities together employ 150 people to regulate and enforce its part of the waste sector. Together these regulate more than 6,000 waste operations; carry out more than 25,000 inspections each year, initiate more than 4,000 enforcement actions and pursue close to 400 prosecutions for waste related crimes annually.
But this level of activity is far from uniform.
You can see more of the report with interactive maps at https://www.rte.ie/news/ investigations-unit/
RTÉ Investigates: Ireland's Wild Waste, hour long documentary on Monday night on RTÉ One at 9.35pm