KILDARE activist Declan Crowe has proposed solutions to help tackle illegal rubbish dumping. Speaking to the Kildare Nationalist, Mr Crowe said that he believes the issue in his area is worse now than it has ever been, impacting on tourism, posing a danger to humans and wildlife alike, and affecting the quality of life in communities across Kildare.
“The roads linking Athy and Kildare town and all the minor roads off it have all been subjected to littering of various degrees,” he said.
Figures obtained from Kildare County Council (KCC) show that €710,000 is typically spent each year on clean-ups of illegal dumping – including litter warden costs. KCC noted that 1,937 cases of illegal dumping and littering were reported last year, and said that it is accepted that illegal dumping is a challenging issue.
Mr Crowe believes that funds currently spent on clearing illegal rubbish dumping could be used for alternative solutions that cut out the middleman, and could be implemented on a trial basis to determine their impact.
He has suggested that council staff in a KCC truck that would otherwise be collecting roadside rubbish collect domestic waste from people in towns and villages on set days and times. Another potential solution would see skips placed in towns and villages by private operators and paid for by KCC – in places such as existing recycling banks or others determined with Tidy Towns groups – on set days to allow people who can’t afford to pay refuse collection charges to bring their household waste for disposal.
Mr Crowe also believes that current deterrents are not effective. At present, when illegally dumped material is discovered the incident is examined by the Area Community Warden, with a fine issued if evidence is found. The material will then be disposed of at an official facility.
In total, 508 litter fines were issued in Kildare in 2018, although details of how many were paid were not made available. Fines of up to €4,000 plus costs can apply in court depending on the severity of the matter, KCC says.
Referring to the proposal of placing skips across the county, KCC highlighted potential issues including planning permission for the locations, a requirement to staff locations to ensure disposed materials have been segregated, as well as funding from the Council.
In its response, KCC pointed to a number of positive factors, including the identification of litter hotspots, an annual clean-up day, civic recycling centres in Athy and Kilcullen (with another proposed for North Kildare), tools that allow the public to make reports, and Government funding to progress a range of anti-dumping initiatives in 2017 and 2018.
Additionally, KCC has said that new byelaws adopted last month will commence from March 2019. The Council will be able to request evidence of kerbside waste collection or alternative disposal services from households and commercial customers, though Mr Crowe has raised potential issues for those who have a zero waste tolerance and, for example, leave their packaging in supermarkets and recycle food at home. He has suggested that a rates rebate for businesses who accept waste packaging or wrapping back from customers could be considered.
“The system that is in place obviously isn’t working, because it’s not deterring people,” he said. “So something else has to happen.”