ONE million black bags of household waste are unaccounted for in Clare every year, the Mayor of Ennis has revealed.
Councillor Johnny Flynn was commenting on the latest Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey released this week.
For the first time, IBAL inspected the cleanliness of national connecting routes between towns, which were found to be typically more littered than the towns themselves.
In respect of Ennis, An Taisce reported, “scattered litter consistently along the Galway road. No one area was worse than another. While the litter was not heavy, it was certainly noticeable”.
“It is a valid criticism,” said Mayor Flynn. “There are one million black bags of household waste unaccounted for in Clare every year and there is a huge problem of fly-tipping and illegal dumping, especially in the areas surrounding the urban centres. There has been lot of dumping on the approach roads to towns and villages, in isolated areas and around beauty spots, like Ballyalla. Clare County Council has a number of mobile CCTV units in use to deter and gather evidence of fly-tipping and illegal dumping,” he said.
The survey reports an improvement in the ranking of Ennis – up 10 places in the nationwide survey of 40 towns – but also commented less favourably on the national roads connecting the town.
Councillor Flynn said, “We brought in bylaws before the local elections to deal with the fly-tipping and the dumping and to try and account for all this missing household waste in Clare every year. Households who are not having their waste collected by an authorised collector will need to be able to show where their household waste is going”.
Counties Clare, Kerry and Limerick have had a regional waste strategy in recent years, led by Limerick City and County Council, and research undertaken in the region shows that only 53% of households in Clare are signed up for a waste collection service.
“One million bags of household waste seems a lot but we have a population of 117,000 in Clare. The Ennis metropolitan district includes the town and five surrounding villages with a population of 33,000. Unfortunately, it would seem that a lot of waste from the urban areas is going missing. It’s just being dumped on the side of the road and, anecdotally, it appears that a lot of waste is being fly-tipped from our urban areas.
“Aside from the littering, it’s a danger to the environment and to animals. I know of a farmer who lost a cow through plastic that was dumped. It may also be that some people are paying unlicensed collectors or a criminal element to take their household waste away. People often think of dumping as a victimless crime. But that’s not the case. The council is spending €750,000 a year to clean up the dumping. This is money that could be used on other services that are needed in Clare,” Councillor Flynn said.
He accepts that there are a significant number of small households who may be sharing a waste collection service and that there are also households who reduce their waste through composting, recycling and by personally going to landfill centres. He noted that, in future. it will be the responsibility of households to demonstrate that they are complying with the new bylaws. This will entail keeping receipts from collectors, local centres and landfill sites in the region.
The Mayor of Ennis expects to see a campaign get underway this autumn to inform people of the new bylaws and to begin identifying households with no service contract for waste collection. When these houses are identified, they will be asked to account for the disposal of their household waste.
The Collection of Household and Commercial Waste Bylaws 2014 were passed in March and outline the responsibilities of individual and households disposing of waste.
Fines of €75 and €1,905 are in the bylaws for non-compliance and refusal to comply following a conviction could lead to a further fine of €127 a day.
By Ron Kirwan