By Dan Walsh
It is as sure as day follows night that members raise the scourge of illegal dumping at County Council meetings and a debate on the second stage of the Local Government (use of CCTV in Prosecution of Offences) Bill came before Seanad Éireann on Friday.
Wexford’s Senator Malcolm Byrne said; “I get several complaints from working-class areas about the dumping that is happening in their communities, as well as what is happening in rural communities. There is a real demand to have this issue addressed. Given the powers that local authorities have, it is not that the GDPR is preventing CCTV being used; it is simply that the underpinning legislation is not in place.
“A number of colleagues have raised the fact that dumping appears to be getting worse. That is possibly because of the work of Tidy Towns crews and development groups, which have been keeping areas clear for so long that we have not noticed the extent of the scourge, but because of the pandemic the dumping has become much more visible. I notice it when I am out walking or running.
“The point was made very eloquently by Senator Pauline O’Reilly that it is not just aesthetically unpleasing, but it is really damaging to the environment and especially to livestock. I do not care about privatisation or any such arguments because this is about civic responsibility. It costs more to load a bag into the back of a van and drive out a country road to dump it into a field than it does to bring it into a civic amenity site and dispose of it properly.
“This is about personal responsibility. The ignorant people who are dumping, whether it is in urban or rural areas, need to be caught and to face the full rigours of the law.”
Senator Byrne said; “Wexford County Council receives an average of 2,500 complaints about dumping or littering every year and that is replicated throughout the country. In Wexford, we spend in the order of €2.3 to €2.6 million a year dealing with waste and litter.”
“People talk about CCTV, but it is not good enough to capture somebody hopping out of a van. What we really need to look at is automated number plate recognition, ANPR, cameras. The advice is very clearly that if we use the ANPR cameras, we must ensure there is an appropriate balance between the detection of litter offenders on one side and the risks to individuals who have committed no offence if we are following particular vehicles!”, concluded Senator Byrne.