Is Cookstown’s old paving being dumped illegally?

Public realm waste at Mill Lace Manor, Cookstown
Public realm waste at Mill Lace Manor, Cookstown
  • NIEA investigating Mid Ulster Council’s public realm contractor
  • NIEA say no waste exemption certificates in place for three sites paving seems to have been dumped
  • Council: FP McCann required to ensure all waste materials correctly disposed of

The building contractor hired by Mid Ulster Council to upgrade Cookstown and Magherafelt town centres is being investigated by Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

FP McCann, which has been paid £1.58m by the council in the last year, has been accused of dumping waste from its public realm scheme works at unauthorised sites.

Mounds of what is alleged to be public realm waste at a site on Lismoney Road

Mounds of what is alleged to be public realm waste at a site on Lismoney Road

The Mail visited three sites, where a whistle blower said, tarmac and kerb stones that once adorned Cookstown’s streets, had been left illegally.

He also raised concerns around the landfill tax that may not being paid as a result - £50 per lorry load he said.

During this investigation, our reporter witnessed a man working on the public realm scheme in Cookstown add more to a pile of rubble in new Cookstown housing development Mill Lace Manor, even though the site does not have a waste exemption certificate, as required by law.

NIEA also said that a waste exemption certificate had been requested, but turned down for a second site operated by Mr Robert Greer of Westmount Construction at Lismoney Road, where four huge piles of rubble can be seen from the road.

What appears to be public relam waste at a site on Claggan Lane

What appears to be public relam waste at a site on Claggan Lane

The reason for the refusal was because “planning permission for the site did not allow for infilling”.

At the third site on Claggan Lane, it appeared waste that bore a striking resemblance to Cookstown’s old kerb stones and paving slabs had been used to build a driveway to the foundations for a new home.

NIEA confirmed that all three sites do not have waste exemption certificates, meaning the waste dumped there is not in keeping with the agency’s code of conduct. And if a company is found guilty of the illegal disposal of waste by the courts, those responsible could face heavy fines or even jail sentences.

To transfer waste from one site to another companies must be registered as a waste carrier, a certificate that FP McCann and its sub contractor RS Greer Plant Hire hold.

But anyone registered as a waste carrier MUST ensure the waste they are carrying is disposed of according to NIEA’s waste management code of practice - a document used to advise the courts.

This means waste must only be transferred to an authorised person and that any site has the appropriate licence, permit or exemption to accept the waste.

Since FP McCann is employed by the council, we contacted it for comment as this alleged illegal activity could also have implications for them as the owner of the waste as NIEA’s code states: “Your obligations do not end when your waste leaves your premises or is handed over to a waste carrier but may extend further down the waste chain depending upon the nature of your waste (e.g. if it is produced in large quantities).

A spokesperson for Mid Ulster Council said: “FP McCann is required under its contract to ensure that all waste materials are correctly handled and disposed of through appropriately licensed facilities.

“The council has asked the public realm project management team to make enquiries.”

FP McCann had not responded to our requests for a comment by the time we went to print.

The 70-year-old company, which is run by the McCann family and reported profits of £168.7m last year, also holds the contract for the Magherafelt bypass.