“The ignorant people who are dumping need to be caught and to face the full rigours of the law.”
That is according to Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne, who said there is “real demand” to have the “scourge” of illegal dumping addressed.
He believes that given the powers that local authorities have, it is not that the GDPR is preventing CCTV from being used; it is simply that the underpinning legislation is not in place.
He said 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.”
“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,” he remarked during a Seanad debate.
“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 senator conducted a survey of all local authorities late last year on the cost of collecting waste and dealing with dumping and littering. He estimated it to be close to €120 million per annum.
Technology-neutral solutions to combat illegal dumping in Ireland
He believes that the solution to illegal dumping must be technology-neutral to “catch those who are responsible”.
“We must examine and put in place measures that are technology-neutral, not just to deal with fixed and mobile CCTV or drone technology but whatever technology is going to develop in the future.”
“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.”
He said the advice is very clear that if we Ireland uses ANPR cameras, the country 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”.
“Whatever we do to deal with it, we are tired of this scourge. People are fed up with it. Farmers are fed up of having to take bags of rubbish out of their fields.”
“People in all communities, including working-class communities, are tired of finding stuff dumped in their area. People want to give local authorities whatever powers are necessary to address the issue.”
“This is something that requires a lot of urgency. I know there are data protection issues. They can be resolved and the DPC is happy to work on them.”
Concluding, he said he wishes to have measures in place by this summer to “finally” address the scourge of illegal dumping in Ireland.