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Complaints received over litter at Cliffs

Management at the Cliffs of Moher received more than 30 complaints about litter and cleanliness at the site this summer, The Clare Champion has learned.

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor centre logged 25 complaints relating to the toilets and/or litter between May and August.
These were made in person to members of staff by visitors on the site. There were a further four email complaints and a statement by MEP Jim Higgins this week saying he too had received complaints about the cleanliness of the site, one describing it as ‘grotty’.
MEP Higgins, Ireland’s representative on the European Parliament’s Tourism Committee, said, “I have received a few complaints over the summer season saying that the car park was strewn with plastic coffee cups and other litter. One person told me the place felt ‘grotty’.”
Cliffside, the road was not much better, according to the MEP. His office received complaints of cigarette butts and plastic bottles detracting from the beauty of the site.
“People are paying €6 a head just to get into the site. This is one of the jewels in the crown of Irish tourism. The least that could be expected is that we keep our tourist sites clean, especially as we are now charging a fair amount for entry to the site,” said the MEP for the North-West Constituency.
MEP Higgins suggested an immediate upgrade of the car park bins.
“This site is particularly windy. The least that should be done is to provide attractive bins with covers instead of the horrible concrete pipes, which allow rubbish to blow out of them,” he said, as well as suggesting a more rigorous cleaning schedule for the facilities toilets.
“It seems the place was not up to scratch at certain periods this summer, a little more attention to detail would make a big difference.
“It’s not just the impression of cliffs, or of Clare but it is a reflection on the quality of the Irish tourism product,” said MEP Higgins.
“I have written to the Cliffs of Moher management to see if the situation can be improved.”
Mr Higgins urged the management of the Cliffs of Moher to clean up the site of the world-famous tourist attraction, saying it is particularly important that the site be well maintained as the Cliffs of Moher are listed in the top 28 in the global online campaign for the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
On Tuesday, Katherine Webster, director, Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, said she had not yet received a letter from Mr Higgins but accepted that there were some issues with regard to litter at the beauty spot.
“The management at the Cliffs of Moher puts a high priority on the cleanliness of the site, especially the toilet areas and litter, which impact significantly on the visitors’ impression of the site.
“As one of the busiest ­tourist sites in the country, we clearly have to do more to ensure that every visitor to the Cliffs of Moher finds the facilities to their satisfaction and we need to put more ­focus and resource on these areas,” Ms Webster conceded.
However, she added that measures had already been taken to resolve the problems raised about the site’s cleanliness.
“We have taken steps in the recent weeks to change work practices to address some of these issues. We welcome all feedback, as this enables us to improve in the areas we need to address,” she said.
Ms Webster outlined that 29 complaints had been received by staff at the centre from May 1 to August 30 this year. She added that the site itself proves challenging to manage from a litter perspective because of its elevation, the number of visitors, the wind and wildlife but that plans are afoot to review the rubbish bins on site.
There are 26 bins in the car park and on the Cliffs side of the road in eight banks as well as cigarette butt boxes on the walls at all exits to the building.
“Cigarette boxes are the only bins on the cliff edge themselves as we ask visitors to dispose of their rubbish before going to the cliff edge as bins in these areas have attracted birds to try to pull litter from them,” Ms Webster explained.
“We are doing work in the car park over the autumn/winter period and this will include reviewing our bins. Over the past four years we have tried several different designs of bin to try to find one that stands up to the high winds experienced onsite,” she added.
The toilets in the visitor centre have also been the subject of some complaints.
“There is an odour from the gents’ toilets that is particularly persistent on warm days that we are investigating. This has become apparent in the last couple of months, with increased numbers and warmer temperatures.
“Plans are in place to replace the existing gents’ urinals with a version that will address the issue during September,” Ms Webster outlined.


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