Criminals are crippling the local economy as diesel sludge bill reaches z800,000

THE dumping of diesel sludge in Louth is costing each local taxpayer a fortune with the local authority now spending an average of €20,000 euro a week cleaning up the mess left by criminals.

THE dumping of diesel sludge in Louth is costing each local taxpayer a fortune with the local authority now spending an average of €20,000 euro a week cleaning up the mess left by criminals.

That’s the equivalent of 200 household charge payments. By the end of the year the bill will be over €1 million euro.

As well as costing the taxpayer a fortune it is also posing a huge risk to local business and jobs.

Fine Gael Senator Jim D’Arcy has raised the matter in the Oireachtas.

He said fuel laundering and smuggling is not a “victimless crime”.

“A good deal of revenue is being lost and people’s jobs are at risk,” Senator D’Arcy said. “Some legitimate dealers have had to close down because of this activity.”

Mr David Blevings of the Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) said that as well as higher prices, a major problem facing the legitimate trade right across the country is the serious increase in the number of stations now allegedly offering laundered fuel.

“This is usually gasoil for agricultural use which has had the dye removed and is passed off as genuine diesel,” Mr Blevings said.

The Minister of State for Small Business John Perry has said stated that the Revenue are acutely aware of the threat posed by the illegal activity and tax evasion in Louth.

A cross-border fuel fraud group has been set up to tackle the problem. It brings together An Garda Síochána and the PSNI, as well as the UK and Irish Revenue authorities.

But Louth County Councillor Tomas Sharkey said the public wants to have confidence in the authorities. “I welcome the multi-agency approach,” Cllr Sharkey said, “but we have yet to get an updated report on what is being done.”

FULL REPORTS: Pages 20 and 21.