Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Legal action threatened against NIEA for failure to clean up dumping

 There have been calls for legal action to be taken against the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) for its failure to take action at a site on the Castleblayney Road, Crossmaglen, which has been used as an illegal dumping ground for almost 20 years.

The area on the outskirts of the town has been used by irresponsible people to dump their household rubbish, however an incident last week where the scale of the dumping, which included items of furniture, caused the rubbish to spill out onto the main road has prompted anger among local residents and councillors, one of whom has called for Council backing to force the NIEA to clear the site.

Demanding action to end what he has described as a “twenty year nightmare”, Sinn Fein Councillor Terry Hearty said residents feel “badly let down” by the NIEA.

He said: “The residents have been living with mess and illegal dumping for 20 years. It has been a nightmare at this site. It is plagued with dirt and vermin.  People have been badly let down by the NIEA whose responsibility it is to clear this site.  Council officials have visited this site on many occasions and forwarded this information to the NIEA. Nothing has been done. We have had enough, this would not be tolerated anywhere else.”

Stating that he intends seeking “the full support” of Newry Mourne and Down District Council “to challenge the NIEA”, he added, “One Of Newry Mourne & Down Council’s top priority is tourism and promoting tourism within the entire district council area. No matter how much good work we do, tourists and visitors are faced with this before they enter Crossmaglen.  I am going to ask the Council to take legal action against the NIEA for their failure in dealing with this awful blight on our town.”

SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne voiced his disgust at the latest incident of illegal dumping at the site.

He said: “I received a phone call from a member of the public out walking their dog at 6am on Thursday morning and immediately went down to the site in order to assess the scale of the issue and ensure that [the rubbish] was removed from the road immediately by the relevant authorities. The rubbish, which included on old TV set was mindlessly dumped onto the road, and not only impeded traffic, but could have resulted in a serious accident. I contacted the council director of Neighbourhood services, Roland Moore at 7am, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency were dispatched to clear the road immediately.”

Councillor Byrne says the recent increase in dumping at the site is “alarming”.

“As a local Councillor, I have been working tirelessly over the last 3 years to address this issue. I have liaised with the residents of the road and the land owners in order to get a solution.   NIEA have been called numerous times over the last few years to clear rubbish, but can only do so when it spills onto the road or contaminates a water course. Engagement has been ongoing with all relevant parties and progress is being made to address the entire problem. However, as soon as we take a few steps forward, some people think it’s acceptable to drag us right back by dumping the contents of their bins on the side of the road. We live in an area of outstanding natural beauty and this road is the main route to our fantastic public amenity at Lough Ross. As a community we are committed to showcasing all that our beautiful area has to offer and attract more tourists to South Armagh. Acts like this drag us right down and serve only as an injustice to the area we strive to promote.

“I will continue to work with all parties and relevant authorities to tackle this problem and return this site to its proper state. I urge the community to report anyone seen illegally dumping at this, or any other, site to the authorities or contact your local Councillor. The beauty of our area must be protected,” he added.