As many complaints about illegal dumping have been made this year to Cork County Council as were made in the whole of 2016.
A senior council official described the littering as “a cause for concern”, but said the local authority was responding to it.
Up to the end of last month, the council had received 1,017 complaints, just 76 less than last year.
Special fly-tipping units, deployed by the local authority, picked up 65.05 tonnes of illegally dumped waste in the first month of this year, including sofas, washing machines, fridges, and mattresses.
Independent councillor John Paul O’Shea suggested free days for receipt of such rubbish at Civic Amenity Sites (CAS), but was told that was a non-starter. Council officials said people who dumped big items, especially near forests and other rural areas, were not the types of people who would avail of a free day at a CAS.
They said they decided to hold a free day in Fermoy for such items and it became chaotic, and they did not want to repeat the exercise.
Council officials said the queues included large tractors and trailers full of material, and one person who came back seven times with stuff he wanted to dump.
The council was overwhelmed and it took them three days to dispose of the waste.
Sinn Féin councillor June Murphy, chairwoman of the council’s Northern Division, agreed the exercise had been problematic, especially as people came from other counties to get rid of items.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ian Doyle said littering was becoming a huge problem and people were now leaving rubbish at St Vincent de Paul charity bins.
Louis Duffy, head of the council’s environment directorate, said electrical items, such as televisions, fridges, freezers, and cookers could be disposed of, free of charge, at CAS, and those who dumped them in forests were unlikely to change a habit of a lifetime.
However, Mr O’Shea said it cost €20 to dispose of a mattress at a CAS and said free days were a way of preventing such items being dumped in the countryside. He described council officials’ negative response to his call as “foolish”, a comment he later retracted.
Liam Singleton, who is in charge of the county council’s waste operations, said it was impossible to identify the dumpers.
“People become more savvy,” he said.
“They’ll tear delivery dockets off pizza boxes and not put in receipts which could be checked out.”
Mr Singleton said CAS could become unviable, if free days were offered, because people would just store up items, in the knowledge they could get rid of them for nothing.
He said that the charges for disposing of waste at CAS facilities were value-for-money.
“Anyway, people who dump illegally won’t have material stored, so we won’t connect with them,” added Mr Singleton.
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