The Countryside is Watching aims to counteract scourge of littering

A NATIONAL anti-litter initiative called The Countryside is Watching has been launched by the Irish Farmers Association and the farm plastic recycling organisation, Irish Farm Films Producers Group, which have a combined membership of 120,000 farmers and rural dwellers.

IFA deputy president and Countryside Project Team spokesman Eddie Downey said farmers and people living in the countryside are tired of the increasing levels of littering.

Food packaging, household rubbish and empty drink bottles are strewn along roadside verges, gateways into fields and country roads on the outskirts of towns and villages.

Farmers, rural dwellers, county council staff, the Environment Protection Agency and the Department of the Environment all have an important role to play in addressing the problem.

Mr Downey described fly-tipping and dumping by passing motorists and irresponsible individuals who treat the countryside as a disposal ground for their refuse as a scourge.

IFFPG chairman Michael Slattery said it is delighted to be part of the campaign. Farmers have a proven track record when it comes to working with the environment, he said.

Last year, a record 19,000 tonnes of farm plastic was recycled with IFFPG by farmers, exceeding all Government recycling targets for the sector.

Mr Slattery said The Countryside is Watching campaign will only work, however, if each stakeholder carries out their responsibilities.

It reminds users of the countryside to act responsibly and enjoy the countryside. They must take their rubbish home and dispose of it correctly.

“The success of this campaign will be determined by the support received from the Department of the Environment and county councils in the following areas,” he said.

The campaign calls for a national rural spring clean week, the provision by county councils of a network of strategically located skips on town and village outskirts and a communication and education strategy to highlight the rural littering problem. It also calls for the enforcement of anti-littering laws, the provision of a dedicated litter reporting website and the setting up by the Government of a national litter action task force.

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