Municipalities to get €10 million to fight illegal waste dumps

THE GOVERNMENT should help municipalities with removing illegal waste dumps, with part of them possibly disappearing by the end of this year. 

(Source: SME)

This stems from the new programme titled ‘The Big Cleaning of Slovakia’ launched on April 27. The opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, however, considers the plan to be at odds with the current valid waste law.

The Environment Ministry will allocate €10 million from the gradually perishing Recycling Fund to fight the illegal waste dumps. This could happen due to last year’s changes to the law on waste. The programme should be managed by the Environmental Fund.

“I want to say that in the past 25 years nobody in Slovakia dealt with the issue of illegal waste dumps systematically and for the first time in history the Environment Ministry comes with a specific and elaborated programme for their removal,” Environment Minister Peter Žiga said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

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He added that municipalities lack funds to tackle the problem. Thus the aim of the new programme is to set some zero starting point for mayors who are responsible for removing the waste dumps.

“I hope Slovakia will be cleaner after this activity,” Žiga said, as quoted by TASR.

The municipalities may enrol in the programme by July 17, with cleaning being slated for the end of November at the latest. The ministry will repay 95 percent of the costs, with the remaining 5 percent being paid by the municipality. The money will go towards collecting, transporting and storing the waste on legal dumps, or their liquidation, TASR wrote.

The number of illegal waste dumps stood at some 2,500 last year, with another 7,000 being unofficial. Žiga said that the money his ministry allocated will not be enough to remove all of them. He could not say what portion of the illegal dumps will actually be destroyed. This will be clearer in the end of July when the fund will assess the submitted applications, according to TASR.

The applications and projects submitted by municipalities will be assessed by external experts. They will get points based on socio-economic, environment and technical-functional criteria. They will take into consideration the GDP in the region, unemployment rate, whether the municipality only transports the waste or also selects and evaluates it and whether it will try to restore the locality where the illegal waste dump was, said Branislav Valovič, head of the Environmental Fund, as reported by TASR.

The minister expects it will cost €5,000-8,000 to remove one small or medium-sized waste dump. The Environment Fund will give up to €100,000 to remove a big dump.

Though the plan is nice, it has one problem which lies in the statutory declaration of a mayor to carry out activities on one’s private property, said Anka Zemanová of SaS, as reported by TASR.

The party points out that instructions for those asking for a subsidy does not deal with the relation of the owner of the land where the waste dump is located to the activities. The owner has to take care about the land and tackle the problem. The municipality can interfere only later, and not without trying to find out whether the owner had not produced the waste, Zemanová added.

She also disagrees with the dates proposed in the project to remove the waste dumps.

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