Since 2018 the Inspector Exchanges actions as part of of the LIFE SWEAP project, have been managed by Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) with eight successful exchanges and 18 participating nations. Three exchanges in 2018 took place in Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland and five exchanges in 2019 in the Netherlands (twice), Scotland, Sweden and Belgium.
The multi-agency inspections were performed at waste management sites, shipping ports and land boarders. The inspections focused on problematic waste streams for both the host and the visiting nations. Additional topics that have been deliberated on during the exchanges have been co-ordination of inspections, selection of inspection sites through risk assessment and analysis of trends and patterns in waste activity.
The agencies that have taken part in the SWEAP exchange expressed how they have benefited from sharing information, techniques and developing strong working relationships with their international counterparts. The agencies also reported an increased skill set amongst their inspectors and law enforcement agencies.
Steven Leckey from NIEA said: “The success of the 2018 and 2019 exchanges highlights the importance of supporting future joint operations and maintaining our strong working relationships with our colleagues. SWEAP exchanges have played a vital role in intensifying collaboration nationally and internationally. They have enabled officers to develop innovative tools and techniques that they may be unaware of in their own jurisdictions”.
Sherrie Murray from NIEA TFS said: “Meeting face to face and sharing information and techniques has been very beneficial for my knowledge development of waste shipment best practice”.
Due to ongoing issues with Covid-19 and travel restrictions, sadly all exchanges planned for 2020 had to be cancelled. With the current travel restrictions set to continue for the foreseeable future, SWEAP plans to develop new approaches to joint working. If you have taken part in any recent joint working activities or have ideas for a new approach to inspector exchanges, please get in touch with Steven Leckey or Sherrie Murray of NIEA.