Monday, March 29, 2010


Littering Problem gets worse

The instance of illegal dumping seems if anything to have got worse over the last number of months. Apart from being disgusting, littering also brings more rodents into an area. Close to where I live in East Meath there is a small laneway know locally as “Graves Lane” or as “Blackberry lane or as “Bryanstown Lane.” The laneway has suffered illegal dumping problems for many years, but right now it is worse than at any time I can remember. Here are some pictures to illustrate the impact.

Picture 018
Household rubbish at the side of the road

Picture 020
Tyres discarded at a gateway

Often these litterers will sit down at home before hand and remove any identifiable markings from the litter, so that it can’t be traced back to them. They will then load up the car, drive to their selected spot, and discard their rubbish at the side of the road. Their defence is along the lines that they can’t afford to pay the bin charges because of their own economic situation. However, the law is the law and this is no excuse.

And while there are calculated litterers such as those above, there are other grades of litterer too. For instance, why do many smokers still think it’s ok to dump cigarette butts and packets on the street? Why do some drivers just throw their empty tumbler out the window? Such littering has been happening regardless of the economic situation.

From what I can see if a laneway is out of the way and not many people use it then it is more prone to littering. That’s certainly the case with the particular location illustrated above. Also, the laneway is full of potholes. The fact that the council has left the lane surface disintegrate has added to the general air of neglect about it.

Over time, areas such as the one above get a reputation for littering. If an area is particularly bad then at some stage the council will come and clear it up. That often can provide a “justification” in the mind of the litterer, in that they know that the litter will eventually be taken away. They see it like a bring-bank for rubbish.

Up to know the Council has been quite good about keeping the situation under control. However, Council staff are suffering from an increase in workload and a cutback in funding. So, there are limited cleaning resources to go around. The lack of council action is often made up for by the generosity of our fellow citizens. I’ve met many local residents who take it upon themselves to pick up litter from roads and pathways that are often quite some distance from their houses. These civic-minded people are often all that is stopping an area deteriorating into a littering eyesore.

But these people are also fighting a losing battle. Without action the littering problem is likely to get worse here and elsewhere. This will continue to go on until there is a real fear of getting caught. Many litterers think that the council will never prosecute. That’s where they are wrong. They do prosecute, and they have now instigated a policy of “Name and Shame” on their website – see here

But a question that needs to be asked whether sufficient prosecutions are being made. A problem is that quite often it’s difficult to get sufficient evidence to make a successful prosecution. If you see someone dumping then your word alone is not enough. You need a corroborating witness. Alternatively, you need some photographic evidence.

I’d like to see the following four ideas implemented, which I believe would help tackle the problem:

• More CCTV cameras at key locations to enable more prosecutions to take place
• A bin charge waiver system introduced for those who genuinely cannot afford to pay
• More regulations limiting the amount of packaging that manufacturers can use in their products
• Better education in schools and on the airwaves about the impact of littering on our environment.

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