Landfills in Ireland

Posted by John O'Connor

Disposing of waste in a landfill involves burying rubbish and this is a common practice in many countries.

Landfills were often established in abandoned or unused quarries or mines.

They can have huge impacts on the environment such as leachate, gas, litter and attraction of mice. Methane Gas comes hand in hand with landfill sites. This is harmful as it can kill surface vegetation.

In 1995 there were 87 local authority landfills which decreased to 76 in 1998 and down to 50 by the end of the year in 2001. As of 2020, there are  4 landfills operating in Ireland.

All Landfill sites must be licensed by the EPA and there is a detailed application process for a license. Landfill sites are the responsibility of the operator after the waste has been deposited. The operator must carry out monitoring on the site, even if it is no longer in use.

The operator must ensure that the deposited waste and its decomposition is not adversely affecting the groundwater, soil and surrounding environment. 

The operator also remains responsible for the maintenance of the site, for example upkeep of the gas and leachate collection system, and for its restoration and landscaping.

The Waste Management Act (1996) provides for substantial penalties for environmental offences.

The EPA is the body responsible for dealing with any violations of this act by landfill operators that they have licensed.

Again, under the Waste Management Act (1996) there is a landfill levy in operation.

There is a government levy of €65 per tonne of waste disposed of in landfills. This levy is payable on top of whatever fee the private landfill owner charges for the use of their site.

The money from this levy goes towards the Environmental Fund set up by the Government to provide finance for environmental projects.

For information about landfill sites in your immediate area, you should apply to your local authority. It will be able to give you details about local authority-run landfill sites and any private owned land fill sites that may possibly be in the same area. It is no longer possible for the general public to dispose of waste directly to a landfill.

All information about the licensing and monitoring of landfill sites can be obtained from the EPA. If you have any complaints about landfills operating in your area or any area you should contact the EPA.

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