ENNIS Tidy Towns chairman Noel Crowley has described Ennis’ position on the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) table as “positive”. The county town moved up six places to 16th in the national littler league.
“In the Tidy Towns as we are always in the top echelon, and we would like to be at the top of IBAL,” he said.
Mr Crowley was speaking following the release of the latest IBAL league table, which put Ennis at joint 16 out of 53 towns and cities surveyed across Ireland. Ennis was classified as Clean to European Norms in the survey, ranked the same as Ballina and Nenagh.
An Taisce, who conduct the IBAL litter surveys, outlined in its report on Ennis, “Another satisfactory result but not as good as the Tidy Towns. Neither the Limerick or Galway approach roads are Clean to European Norms. Over half of the sites surveyed in Ennis got the top litter grade, these sites were not just clear of litter but very well presented and maintained like the O’Connell Monument, Ballymaley Business Park, the residential area of Kincora Park and Mark Square. Ennis Bus/Train Station got the top litter grade but care needs to be taken to sustain this standard.”
Commenting on the town’s litter league results, Mr Crowley stated, “Obviously we are delighted to have gone up six places but we are a bit disappointed that we are not at the top. Our standards are very high here in Ennis. IBAL is very different to the Tidy Towns, as it is geared more at local authorities and businesses. This helps us in a way, as because we are a voluntary group with no statutory function, we can only ask people to make improvements. With this list it makes what needs to be done public.
“At times people might get the impression that we are at logger heads with the IBAL, but we are not, we are complementary.
“The IBAL survey is very focused on businesses, local authorities, bus and train stations, and that suits us. As a voluntary group trying to tell others that things need to be improved, we might not always be listened to, so it’s no harm that IBAL shows it up. On the other hand, however, they might think about doing things the way we do, with co-operation and volunteering. When money is scarce you have to think of different ways of doing things, you have to use your brains and think of new ways of doing things and to get value for money,” he said.
The IBAL report outlined results for ten areas around the town, with six of these receiving a grade A.
Ballymaley Business Park was described as a very clean, tidy and well-presented industrial environment. “The vacant unit didn’t impact in any negative way on the litter situation – this can easily happen so clearly close attention is paid,” the report stated.
Kincora Park was praised as “a ‘house-proud’ residential area with well cared for properties. The communal area was enhanced with planting and sculpture – a top ranking site throughout.”
Ennis Bus and Train Station also received a grade A, with the report stating, “This site just scrapped getting a Grade A – it could easily become a Grade B if a little more attention is not paid. However, the bus shelter deserves special mention as it had improved hugely since it was last included in IBAL anti-litter survey.”
College Park was another area to get a grade A, described as “another very well presented and maintained residential area within Ennis, the individual properties and the open green were all in very good order.”
Mark Square came in for praise and a grade A, with the report describing a “virtual absence of litter in this main shopping area and the business properties were well maintained”.
O’Connell Monument also received the top grade. “An important site, the steps of this monument are used as a meeting place and, in spite of footfall, it scored very well with the top litter grade. Care needs to be taken to ensure that cigarette butts don’t blight the monument.”
A grade B mark went to O’Connell Street, with the report outlining, “There was a scattering of a wide variety of litter all along this shopping street with much of it ‘trapped’ in corners. The individual properties were well maintained but a more thorough approach to general cleaning would make a difference.”
A grade B mark was given to the N18 Limerick approach road, from Topaz station/West County Hotel to the junction at Ennis Service Station. “There had been some improvement along this approach road but it was still moderately littered, fast-food wrappers and sweet papers were particularly obvious,” the report outlined.
The Galway approach road was given a grade B, as while most of the road was in good order “it was let down by litter.” And the car park near the station was given a grade B, with the report stating, “There were no visible litter bins in the area surveyed, perhaps they are needed given the wide variety of litter, particularly in the planted areas. As well as the usual food related litter there were some scratch cards.”
Of the towns and cities surveyed by An Taisce 38 of the 53 were also deemed Clean to European Norms, a similar number to last year. When IBAL commenced the league 10 years ago only two towns were Clean to European Norms and one in three were litter blackspots.
“Our environment continues to get cleaner despite a tightening of the public purse at local authority level,“ says Dr Tom Cavanagh, chairman, IBAL. “This indicates that the fight against litter is not about money. It’s equally about a spirit of local pride and volunteerism among the local community, and we’re seeing a resurgence of this in the current climate.”
Sweet papers, chewing gum and fast food wrappers are the most common forms of litter in Ireland, with an increase in the prevalence of all three types compared to 2010. There was deterioration in litter levels in industrial estates, 20% of which were ‘littered’ or ‘litter blackspots’. Ring roads and approach roads, the focus of much attention by IBAL recently, improved significantly this year.