The South Down Sinn Féin MLA was commenting after new figures show that up to 750,000 tonnes of waste were illegally dumped in the North over the last ten years.
She said: “Hundreds and thousands of tonnes of waste have been illegally dumped in landfills to avoid landfill tax, a measure introduced by the British Government supposedly to encourage recycling and waste recovery but has actually led to huge increases in illegal landfill dumping.
“With only 66 convictions over the last number of years from 2008 to 2017 for those guilty of dumping in illegal landfills, clearly more needs to be done to ensure that illegal dumpers are brought to justice.
“The material dumped not only has has a financial cost to clean up, but damages our environment by contaminating the soil and has the potential to damage our health as it could seep into the water we drink.
“The British Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has introduced new penalties for dumpers which will be in place from the 1st of April 2018, which will ensure that those dumping waste will be liable for unpaid landfill tax.
Locally we need a stronger emphasis on enforcement and prosecution of those engaged in the criminal dumping of waste.”