Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has condemned the criminal gangs involved in the fuel laundering scam and has said that “the only effective means of closing down this illegal activity is to end the differential between agricultural and non-agricultural diesel. The government needs to introduce in its place a system where farmers can reclaim a rebate on their fuel costs based on vouched expenditure”.
Teachta Adams has accused the gangs involved in diesel laundering of “causing serious environmental and health problems, putting at risk legitimate business and jobs, as well as imposing significant financial costs on local councils and the tax payer”.
The Louth TD was commenting after he received written responses from the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan and from the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to a series of Dáil Questions he submitted on this issue.
Mr. Adams said: “The responses from Minister Hogan and Noonan make bleak reading and confirm the adverse impact fuel laundering is having, especially in border counties.
· 900 incidents of diesel laundering and waste dumping
· 490 in Louth
· 406 in Monaghan
· €4,959,005 spent since 2008 on the clean-up of fuel laundering sites
· €4,093,979 of this spent in Louth
· 33 oil laundry plants detected and closed since 2010
· 10 oil laundry plants detected and closed in Louth in this period.
· 87 filling stations closed for selling illegal fuel between 2012-13
“While I welcome the increasing cross border co-operation on this issue and while I accept that the new marker being introduced both in Britain and across Ireland should greatly assist the process of identifying and prosecuting those involved in this activity, the danger is that the fuel launderers will find a way to remove this marker also.
“It is Sinn Féin’s view that the only guaranteed means of ending this lucrative trade is to have a single tariff for diesel. A common approach could then be adopted to rebate to farmers the additional costs incurred in fuel purchases.
“The Irish Petroleum Industry Association has estimated that there may be as many as 120 illegal sites in operation (south of the border) and that these are costing the exchequer as much as €155 million per annum in lost fuel duty.
“Until an effective and sustainable solution is agreed and implemented, penalties against these criminal gangs and those who distribute the illegal fuel need to be increased. More resources should be provided to the Garda and PSNI and the Irish government and Executive should urgently review how they can maximise co-operation between policing, customs, justice and environmental agencies.”