A total of 34 litter fines have been issued in the past 12 months in the Athlone Municipal District thanks to the assistance of CCTV footage.
In 2015 the Environmental section of Westmeath County Council sought tenders for the provision of CCTV services and a contractor was appointed in early 2016.
Athlone Municipal District engaged this contractor on five occasions in 2016 at a cost of €3,198 in three separate locations - Fairgreen, Annaghorta Bog, and St Mary’s Square.
On foot of this, a total of 34 fines have been issued and are being processed. To date, seven have either been paid or are on a payment plan, yielding an income of €800. No prosecutions have been initiated to date, but a number of cases are still under consideration.
Mayor of Athlone John Dolan said there is rarely a meeting where litter is not spoken about. He welcomed the €800 in fines accrued, but said money should not come into such a serious issue, one which is felt countrywide.
Sinn Féin councillor, Paul Hogan, said littering is a constant “blight on rural Ireland”. He welcomed the number of fines issued, and said it is important that the council utilise all avenues of aid at its disposal. In doing so, he welcomed legislation passed last week governing the use of drones, which he said have the capacity to cover 50 or 60 acres in a single flight, helping to identify dumping areas far more efficiently in the future.
Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena, praised the results of the surveillance. He noted that the total amount in fines when collected will far exceed the cost of using CCTV. Cllr Keena added that there are still some “black spots” being abused in Annaghorta Bog, and emphasised the importance of maintaining the surveillance into the future.
Additional areas have been identified for CCTV surveillance in 2017.