By Dan Walsh
A directive from the Data Protection Commissioner that CCTV footage can not be used as evidence against illegal dumping activity has left councillors bewildered and strong voices were aired at Tuesday’s meeting of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District held under public health guidelines by Microsoft Teams.
Cllr Fionntán Ó’Suilleabhán felt the GDPR issue can be rectified and recalled being informed of 12 bags of rubbish dumped at one site between Monaseed and Annagh and dropped into a stream where animals were drinking. “It is a source of annoyance locally.” He wondered if the fast-food outlets and the drinks manufacturers could be factored into the solution? Something must be done. Hopefully, the CCTV situation can be resolved.”, said Cllr Ó Súilleabháin, who also called for more bins at Ramsfort Park where “a lot of people are walking dogs.”
Cllr Duirmuid Devereux said; “The volume of illegal dumping in North Wexford is increasing. We have a specific problem. We have had significant dumping going on for a long time in Moneycross, Tubberneering, Clough – all black bags, very neatly assembled and evidence is removed – for example, the top of a utility bill – almost as a tactic. We know who is doing it. The warden is continually active. “I know who is doing it and the people in the neighbourhood know who is doing it and I have a strong feeling that a lot of the problems we have in North Wexford is coming from this one source. He suggested if this situation were tackled it would bring a lot of relief to North Wexford. “It is a horrible situation for a community group in a small village wake up in the morning and find 10 or 12 bags of rubbish littered all over the road.”
The use of CCTV for surveillance of litter and illegal dumping it was deemed insufficient for a local authority to comply with GDPR. The Data Protection Commission has informed of the legal provisions of the Litter Act. Wexford Council Council is awaiting developments.
Cllr Mary Farrell praised the clean-up crews for the job that they do which she said is “down to the recklessness and mindset of people who are dumping this rubbish. They are getting clever. They are cutting away the top of a bill – but does that not tell you the mindlessness of people that they will go to that length to cut off the top of the bill and leave the rest of the bill so as they cannot be caught out! How you can factor in that kind of senseless behaviour, I do not know!
Cllr Farrell is disappointed regards CCTV cameras and data protection. “If we can catch them, we catch them. Now if we catch them on CCTV cameras, we cannot prosecute them because, heaven forbid, it is breach of data protection. It just doesn’t make sense that we are coming up with solutions and that solution is against the law.”
Cllr Donal Kenny agreed that illegal dumping is getting worse. “All houses are not using wheelie bins. We see that on collection day.” Cllr Kenny wondered about looking at a property tax and said every house has rubbish.
Cliona Connolly of Wexford County Council Environmental Section briefed the members on environmental matters and answered queries from members.
She told the meeting that the average daily head count for Gorey Recycling Centre was 74 customers in 2019 and increased to 86 in 2020. About a 15% increase. Tonnage in 2019 was 464 tons and in 2020 was 581 tons or an increase of over 20%. “Environmental crews are dealing with illegal dumping and clean-ups,” she concluded.