In a case brought before Mullingar District Court by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, a man was convicted and fined a total of €15,000 plus €3,810 in costs for dumping in 2020 in a protected Westmeath bog.

Milltownpass Bog is designated as a Natural Heritage Area (NHA) under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has welcomed the decision of the court, which took place on April 8.

Court hears evidence of dumping

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) ranger Triona Finnen gave evidence that she investigated reports of dumping in February 2020.

On two dates, she had observed a truck dump soil material within the protected NHA, on lands registered in the ownership of the minister and on adjacent land.

The court heard that there was no licence or permit in place for dumping from either the county council or from the NPWS.

The court heard that, when interviewed by ranger Finnen under caution, the man admitted employing a driver to transport and dump soil on the land.

An estimated combined total of 100 truckloads of soil were dumped in the protected NHA during the spring of 2020.

Dumping in protected Westmeath bog

The judge, having received the evidence of ranger Finnen and clarification on points from NPWS ranger Therese Kelly, was satisfied that the man should be convicted on all summonses before the court.

The judge stated that the breaches had to be treated as aggravated breaches of the law. The man indicated that he intended appealing the verdict.

The case against the other the truck driver, was adjourned until June 17.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan in welcoming the judgement, said: “Illegal dumping is a serious issue, even more so when it impacts on important habitats.

“I welcome this judgement and fine. I hope it will serve as a deterrent to others who engage in such activities and I commend my team in the National Parks and Wildlife Service and all those who helped to bring about this successful prosecution.”