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Irish fly-tippers are smiling

Waste crime has been ignored by the authorities for long periods of time across much of Ireland, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The country has been found guilty of "general and persistent" failure to fulfil its obligations under EU law between 1997 and 2000.

All the charges related to breaches of the Community Directive of 1975 on Waste, which introduced a licensing system for rubbish disposal.

According to the court, the directive was transposed late, it wasn't enforced effectively and firms waited an average of 808 days to attain a permit under it.

The judgement added: "The Irish authorities have tolerated unauthorised activities in numerous places in Ireland, often over long periods, failing to require that those activities be brought to an end.

"Such a failure to fulfil obligations is general and persistent in nature. The Court concludes that Ireland has failed to comply with its obligations under the waste directive."

Irish Minister for the Environment Dick Roche said the country's record had improved since 2000 but that the judgement should ensure it stays focused.

He said: "The findings of the Court are a timely reminder of the consequences of poor past waste management practices and of the urgent necessity to put in place a modern waste infrastructure.

"Since the period covered by these complaints, Ireland's waste regulatory regime has been brought up to modern EU standards.

"There is a need to build on what has been achieved and, in particular, to intensify enforcement action."

"Illegal waste activities are crimes against the environment. Those who engage in illegal waste activities tarnish our striking achievements as a nation in this area."

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