Waste Oil

Environment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 13 September 2011.

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Photo of Sandra Overend Sandra Overend UUP 2:30, 13 September 2011

4. asked the Minister of the Environment for his assessment of the facilities currently in place that are capable of disposing of waste oil. (AQO 297/11-15)

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

I am curious about where this question will go. I was about to read the answer to Mr McNarry’s question. The answer in respect of waste oil is that, under current regulation, five facilities are entitled to accept, process and store waste oil up to a limit of 10 tonnes a day.

Three of them are entitled to process the waste oil, with a limit of 29,000 tons per annum. The NIEA monitors the impact of those facilities on air and water quality. Civil amenity sites also have the capacity, under licence, to store up to a limit of 1,000 litres of waste oil. I assure the Member that the NIEA has regulatory authority for those five sites currently under regulation and the civic amenity centres that have that capacity. I am advised that the NIEA is attentive to that matter.

Photo of Sandra Overend Sandra Overend UUP 2:45, 13 September 2011

I thank the Minister for his response. Disposing of waste oil is very difficult, particularly for those working in the agriculture industry, which amasses a considerable amount of the product. Will the Minister detail how easy it is, or is not, to recycle the waste product?

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

As I said in answer to the previous question, it is my practice to rely on best scientific advice. Therefore, I will have to seek the best scientific advice from the NIEA about the appropriate waste disposal models and mechanisms. I do not deny that that is beyond my knowledge and competence. Nevertheless, if the Member has concerns about the issue, will she bring them to my attention? I am in conversation with the NIEA with regard to its monitoring, compliance and enforcement regimes to ensure that any waste disposal, whether it is tyres in a depot somewhere in the North, a waste disposal plant in the hills of the Black Mountain or the disposal of waste oil, has the right enforcement and, if necessary, more enforcements, compliance and monitoring in order to ensure that waste, especially waste that is volatile or a threat, is properly managed. I am anxious and attentive to that need.

Photo of Sean Lynch Sean Lynch Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. What financial incentives are in place to encourage the production of biodiesel from waste oil?

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

I suggest that the Member refers the matter to the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, whose remit covers the detail to answer that question. I will bring it to her attention and ask her to reply to the Member.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Will the Minister give details of the Department’s waste management strategy, including any potential time frame for its delivery?

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for his question. I confirm that I am reviewing the waste management strategy for Northern Ireland. If you compare where we are with regard to waste management, recycling and reuse compared to 10 years ago, you will see the progress that has been achieved. In 2002, we had municipal waste disposal targets of around 8%. Now, depending on the council area, the positive disposal of waste at civic amenity sites is between 26% and 50%. Overall in the North, we are disposing 34% of waste at civic amenity sites in a renewable way. Given all of that, and given the scale of the advance over the past 10 years where we had 8% of renewable waste disposal and we now have 34%, it seems that we should stretch ourselves on those targets as well. I will be bringing forward proposals to encourage councils to have much more challenging targets on the domestic municipal side and the commercial side because it is within our grasp to achieve much more challenging targets.