By Noel Dundon
North Tipperary County Council has decided to keep the Ballyveighney Landfill Site at Ballymackey, Nenagh closed for the next three years, unless market conditions change, or if they enter a sale or lease agreement with a provider.
The long running saga at the state-of-the-art facility resulted in council members deciding after Christmas to suspend trading after it emerged that the landfill had lost in the region of half a million Euro. Consultants RPS were brought in to examine the landfill and check out all options. Their findings showed that in order for the landfill to operate at a break even level, North Tipperary would have to charge between 120-125 Euro per tonne of waste , whereas other landfills are operating at between 30-40 Euro per tonne.
RPS Consultants Operations Manager, Mr Willie Madden, told members at the monthly meeting this week that the landfill is licensed to accept 32,000 tonnes of waste per annum. Ten of the eleven cells have been filled and he recommended to the members that the temporary closure, be made a permanent one, if the situation does not change. The council can close the facility for three years without having to re-apply for a waste license - however, if they intend re-opening within the three year window, they must inform the EPA of the decision.
Members expressed their disappointment at the news and also stated that illegal dumping seems to be on the increase, with every roadside becomming a victim. This should be combatted, they said, with Mayor John Kennedy noting the County Manager, Mr Joe MacGrath’s determination to operate a zero tolerance approach to illegal dumpers.
Director of Services Mr Carl Cashen said that the landfill at Ballyveighney has been very good to North Tipperary County Council in terms of income. However, due to the high level of uncertainty in the waste market and with levies and compliance legislation becoming more stringent, the diversion away from landfill is a big issue.
He accepted that there has been a big increase in illegal dumping but he did not accept that it is as a result of closing Ballyveighney. In fact, a vast amount of the material illegally dumped would have been accepted free of charge at the various recycling facilities, he said.
The council has set aside a significant sum of money to help pay the aftercare costs associated with the landfill and Mr Cashen did not accept that rate payers will be burdened with this.
Typical provision would be for 30 years and about 1.8 million Euro has been set aside by the local authority for this purpose.
County Manager Mr John MacGrath described the decision to close the landfill as a very difficult one, but he added that it was the right one.
“We lost half a million Euro last year but we have stemmed that now and there is no doubt but that the decision to close the facility is the right one.
“We are in a much more comfortable position now to make up our mind about the future. We are in a very strong position in terms of aftercare having put the funds aside over the years, and we will continue to monitor the market and see how it is going,” Mr MacGrath said.