Press Release - Transhipment of Waste

The Comptroller and Auditor General has completed a special report on transhipment of waste. The report has been presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas today, 6 November 2014.


This report:

  • reviews the implementation and enforcement of the European Waste Shipment Regulation (EWSR) in Ireland
  • provides an update on progress made and costs being incurred in respect of an ongoing programme to repatriate waste originating in Ireland that was illegally dumped in Northern Ireland between 2002 and 2004.

Main Findings

Implementation and Enforcement

While enforcement action plans are prepared annually, there is no strategy in place to set the strategic direction for enforcement activity over the medium to long term.

Ireland ranked second highest of eight EU member states examined in terms of the number of inspections of international waste shipments carried out between 2008 and 2010. However, the annual number of waste transhipment inspections carried out in Ireland has fallen significantly in recent years. Around 3,200 inspections were carried out in 2013, which represents a 35% decrease on 2011.

The National Transfrontier Shipment Office (NTFSO), within Dublin City Council, stated that the reduction in the inspection rate is due to its adoption of a risk-based approach. The new approach involves increased surveillance activity and more inspections of waste facilities, which tend to be more time consuming. The average cost per inspection rose from €137 in 2011 to €199 in 2013.

The NTFSO collates information on infringements detected during inspections of waste imports and exports but could not provide similar information for other types of inspections it carries out. The rate of detection of infringements during inspections of waste imports and exports fell from 16% in 2012 to 6% in 2013. Whether that decline is due to improved compliance or less effective inspections has not been established.

The EWSR requires member states to implement an effective system to penalise infringements. In comparison to other countries, it was found that Ireland issues a relatively large number of warning letters in respect of minor infringements of the EWSR. In contrast, the number of infringements leading to fines or legal action was relatively low.

While some random inspections are carried out and some information is recorded on enforcement activity and infringements detected, there is no system in place to measure the effectiveness of the enforcement regime in Ireland.

Repatriation of Illegally Dumped Waste

To date, it is estimated that about 31% of the illegally dumped waste has been repatriated from Northern Ireland. Under the existing schedule of clearing two sites per year, the repatriation programme is due to be completed in 2018.

The direct costs incurred by Ireland in respect of five site clearances completed by the end of 2012 totalled just over €5.4 million. The cost per tonne at the two sites completed during 2012 was significantly lower than the cost of the first two sites completed under the programme. This is primarily due to the lower unit rates for waste disposal that are available under a framework contract established by the NTFSO.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Enforcement is continuing to examine material uncovered at the illegal dump sites with a view to identifying offenders and considering the potential for prosecutions. While cases have previously been taken relating to illegal movements of waste to Northern Ireland, there have been no prosecutions in Ireland to date in respect of the illegal dumping that led to the current repatriation exercise.

    Notes for Editors

    The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is responsible for waste management policy in Ireland. The rules that apply to cross-border shipments of waste within, to and from the EU area are set out in the 2006 European Waste Shipment Regulation (EWSR). Dublin City Council is the designated national competent authority, responsible for implementation of the EWSR in Ireland. The National Transfrontier Shipment Office (NTFSO) was established within Dublin City Council to implement and enforce the EWSR.

    Coordinated audits on the enforcement of the EWSR were conducted by the respective national public sector auditors between 2011 and 2013 in eight EU member states, including Ireland. The report on the coordinated audit was published in October 2013. It is available to download at

    The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds. He reports to Dáil Éireann.