CCTV can be an effective tool for combating illegal dumping in Ireland, but local authorities are hampered from utilising this due to GDPR issues, according to Senator Mark Wall.
He raised the matter during a Seanad debate on nationwide campaigns to highlight the damage caused to the environment by illegal dumping.
Wall said one positive outcome of this lockdown has been the number of citizens exercising within the 5 km limit that is in place.
Increase in environmental vandalism during lockdown
However, this increase in those walking our streets and country roads has “led to [the] realisation of what, we, as a nation, are doing to our environment”.
“What people are seeing, in greater numbers, is simply environmental vandalism. Our main roads resemble advertising dumping grounds, as discarded packets, cups, and boxes fight with one another for the little spots available on these roads and are constantly blown about in the wind.
“Our country lanes are now extensions of our landfill sites such is the amount of rubbish being illegally deposited there.”
“Our farming community is constantly having to remove piled up rubbish from headlands, entrances, and fields. Rubbish is just flung over ditches by those passing in vans or cars. We try to sell this country as a beautiful unspoilt island with 40 shades of green and landscapes to die for.”
The senator warned that green fields, city streets, hills, quaint country lanes and “precious” bogland, will disappear under “mountains” of discarded fridges, sofas, tyres and household rubbish.
“These are all illegally dumped by those who consider themselves above the law and, for some bizarre reason, untouchable because they gave a person driving a van or a car a few bob, to get rid of it.”
Estimated figure of €90m
He revealed that his local authority, Kildare County Council, is now dealing with 40 to 50 incidents each week and spending €3 million per annum on mitigating matters.
If this is replicated across our 31 local authorities, it means that approximately €90 million will be spent on this problem, he added.
This does not include the additional money the Department may have allocated and does not include the time and effort of volunteers.
Addressing illegal dumping in Ireland
Wall said the government’s an anti-dumping awareness communication campaign entitled, Your Country, Your Waste is, “not working”.
Wall is urging the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications to launch a national campaign that includes effective enforcement and surveillance.
He is calling for “proper” guidelines for local authorities that allow them to employ surveillance “without the fear that they will never be able to use it”.
“It is time to name those who deliberately set out to ruin our environment and to ensure the legislation is there in a timely manner to prosecute those who commit environmental vandalism.”
“I urge the Minister to address this issue. There should be no comfort in giving one’s rubbish to a person who is obviously not registered.”
“There must be no escape from prosecution for taking it upon oneself to get rid of rubbish in what one thinks is an isolated spot or for tossing an empty packet out the window or throwing it away as one walks along our streets.” Senator Wall concluded.