Galway has once again been labelled as ‘moderately littered’, dropping to No 34 in the IBAL Litter League of Ireland’s cleanest and dirtiest towns and cities.
Galway slipped from its No 25 spot in last January’s Litter League, when the city was found to be clean to European norms. Ballybane, which was surveyed as a standalone area in the latest survey, has been placed in 33rd spot in the league and is also moderately littered. Meanwhile Ballinasloe, ranked 27th in the league, is clean to European norms.
Inspections of key residential and retail sites around the city, carried out by An Taisce on behalf of IBAL, found that the city is being let down by pockets of neglected and littered spaces around the city.
The heritage group pointed out that it carried out the inspections during the successful European Capital of Culture 2020 campaign, and found that despite the timing the areas around the city’s main theatres were among the most littered parts of the city.
The Black Box Theatre and Town Hall Theatre, along with The Plots in Woodquay and the walkway along the canal by NUI Galway, were found to be severely littered.
Some of the cleanest spots surveyed around the city included NUI Galway, IDA Business Park in Dangan, Cherry Park in Newcastle, Luas Leana in Ballinfoyle, the park at Corrib Terrace, Woodquay, and the N59 and R337 approach roads into the city.
The An Taisce report for Galway stated that it was “a disappointing result for this tourist city on a number of fronts. At the time of the IBAL litter survey Galway city was making a bid to be European Capital of Culture 2020 and there were plenty of banners illustrating same – thus it was disappointing to see some culturally related sites in the survey which were littered, eg, Galway theatre at Courthouse Square and theatre at Dyke Road. Some of the Grade B sites which could easily get the top litter grade with a little extra care and attention included Dunnes Stores Shopping Centre and associated car park, Galway Shopping Centre, Galway Hibernians AFC, and Galway Retail Park.”
More than half of the 10 sites surveyed in Ballybane were found to be littered. While only one area — Oldenway Business Park — was severely littered, there were significant problems found in other areas.
“As well as the usual food related litter that is associated with many sites there were loose dogs running around Rocklands Avenue, giving rise to dog fouling, and a pony was tethered at the residential area of Fana Glas,” the report stated. “A few of the moderately littered sites could easily get the top litter grade with a little extra effort, eg, Glasán and Glasán Student Village, and Monivea Road.”
According to IBAL, litter is a symptom of social neglect, and councils need to look at a community-wide response targeting those areas where the problem is at its worst. “Work at keeping these areas clean for six to 12 months and they are likely to stay clean, and the community can have pride in their neighbourhood,” said Conor Horgan of IBAL. “That does cost money initially, but the payback will be significant.
“This underlines the need to ensure that in our new house-building programme we don’t replicate the mistakes of the past and ensure the 50,000 new homes planned by 2021 are built as communities, with mixed incomes, proper infrastructure and most of all are places that people have pride in — good for communities and good for business,” Mr Horgan added.
The survey showed sweet papers as once again the most common forms of litter on our streets, followed by fast food wrappers, cigarette butts, and chewing gum. There was also a rise in the prevalence of cans and plastic bottles.
Ballinasloe, meanwhile, was found to be clean to European norms with only two areas found to be severely affected by littering.
“Most of Ballinasloe was very clean, with seven out of 10 sites surveyed getting the top litter grade,” An Taisce stated in its report. “However the overall ranking was brought down by two seriously littered sites — Church Street and Le Paor Trench Monument. Both were in a poor state. Some of the top sites included Portiuncula Hospital, Main Street, residential area of Garbally, and the recycle facility at Society Street.”