Council foots €90k bill for illegal dumping

A shocking €90,626 was spent during 2017 on cleaning up illegal dumping in the Athlone Municipal District.

Councillors were informed of the figure at last Tuesday's meeting of the Municipal District following a question posed by local Fine Gael councillor, John Dolan.

"That figure, when you see it, when we are here fighting for road money and the likes, is an absolute disgrace," Cllr Dolan said at the meeting.

District engineer, Pat Nally, agreed, saying a lack of evidence in cases of illegal dumping means the council regularly has to foot the bill.

Director of services, Barry Kehoe, said illegal dumping is a national not just local problem. He said the state of other areas of the country, namely the Wicklow Mountains, would shock any visitor.

Mayor of Athlone, Aengus O'Rourke (FF ), said the figure quoted does not take into account voluntary cleanups that took place throughout 2017.

The council has been making efforts to tackle littering and illegal dumping in the district, including the hiring of a CCTV contractor and investigating the use of drone surveillance.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dolan said a more proactive approach is needed.

"I was surprised when I heard the answer of €90,000 to be honest with you," he said. "This money is taking from other much needed maintenance work.

"CCTV and drones are seen as expensive, but looking at what it is costing to tackle illegal dumping we could actually save money in the long run. With more surveillance you could find out who is responsible, so they would have to pay for cleaning it up on top of any fine they get, which would be even more money in the council's pocket.

"There is another option. There should be a system in place whereby someone can knock on the door of a house and ask to see proof of their disposed waste. Most of us are paying for a bin now or you could have a receipt saying you brought rubbish directly to a facility.

“I know it will mean manpower but, when you see what is being spent doing cleanups already, I think it would be worth it.”


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