The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment has published its final report on its Used Tyre Inquiry, in which it makes a number of important recommendations for the future management of used tyres in Northern Ireland. The Committee undertook its inquiry following concerns about the number of illegally dumped tyres in Northern Ireland and the associated problems, including environmental concerns about fly-tipping and pollution from tyre fires at depots. In addition, the cost of disposal of illegally dumped tyres often falls to councils and therefore, ultimately, ratepayers.
During its inquiry, the Committee gathered evidence from a range of stakeholders and local authorities. Its final report on the disposal of used tyres follows the publication of its interim report in April 2012, which made a number of draft recommendations. The Committee postponed publication of its final recommendations on disposal until the Department of the Environment finished its all-island survey of used tyres.
The Committee is satisfied with the Department’s progress on some its interim recommendations — for example, progress on the development of a fly-tipping protocol and closer liaison and co-operation between local authorities and the PSNI. However, it is keen to see more action, and has made 12 final key recommendations for the future management of used tyres.
The Committee’s recommendations include an enforcement approach that focuses on illegal activity; an examination of exemptions from waste management licences; and compliance inspections prior to waste management licences being granted.
As a longer-term measure, the Committee also considered the introduction of a producer responsibility scheme, whereby producers would be responsible for the safe disposal of the tyres they produce. However, the Committee has recommended close liaison with the Republic of Ireland on this, as it feels that any such scheme would be counterproductive unless introduced in the Republic, too. As a short-term measure, the Committee has recommended that all sectors in the used tyre chain be required to register with a compliance scheme to enable better tracking of used tyres.
The Committee was particularly concerned about the lack of traceability of tyres coming into Northern Ireland. It has called for a more robust system for quantifying the number of tyres coming into Northern Ireland and clear information on where those tyres end up.
Another issue that the Committee focused on was the administration of the voluntary used tyre levy. Committee members wanted to know what happens to the money that is collected through the levy, and to ensure that those collecting the levy are disposing of the tyres properly. The Committee has therefore called for powers to enable the Department to regulate the collection and use of the levy.
The Committee’s recommendations will help to address the continuing problem of illegal dumped tyres in Northern Ireland and the environmental damage that can arise as a result. It also wants to explore alternative uses for used tyres and the potential for a self-sustaining end-use market in Northern Ireland. The Committee will continue to work with stakeholders and all those involved in the tyre sector to ensure that all tyres in Northern Ireland are disposed of in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
To view the report and view more information regarding the Used Tyre Inquiry click here