Council spends €1,000 a kilometre to clean up Waterford tourist route

A councillor is pleading with the public to “act responsibly” and not litter, after a local authority spent €18,000 clearing an 18km stretch of road.

Waterford’s Cllr Liam Brazil said the cost to the council was “outrageous” and he said he wanted all litter offenders prosecuted.

The clean-up on the R680, between Kilmeaden and Carrick-on-Suir, took workers nine days.

Last year, the council spent €10,000 cleaning the same route, which lies close to the much-visited Comeragh Mountains.

The operation accounted for 25% of the council’s 2016 roads budget, district engineer, Eamon Lonergan, told the council’s Comeragh District Committee.

Mr Lonergan said that while the R680 clean-up involved “an absolutely horrific amount of rubbish”, the location, on an extremely busy road, excluded voluntary groups from participating, because of health-and-safety.

It also greatly increased the cost, as traffic-management measures had to be implemented, he said.

“Further, indirect costs were incurred, through pulling operatives and skilled labourers off other jobs.”

The litter largely comprised coffee cups, cartons, food wrappers, cans, bottles and discarded black bags of waste.

Recently, Cllr Brazil, who heads the Comeragh municipal committee, backed a call from Cllr Michael J O’Ryan for a levy on plastic coffee cups, given their increasing presence among litter.

Waterford Council’s director of services for the environment, Fergus Galvin, acknowledged that, by comparison to the recent heavy outlay, clean-ups undertaken in tandem with voluntary groups generally cost about €500, for purchasing materials and disposing of rubbish.

Nonetheless, Mr Gavin said the local authority spends “millions” annually on street-sweeping, litter-picking, collecting, and disposing of illegally dumped rubbish.

Waterford Council no longer operates a waste-collection service, with several private collection firms filling the void, along with bring banks, while civic amenity sites are provided in Dungarvan and Waterford.

Roadside litter remains a major problem across the region.

An analysis showed a recent litter pick, on a 30km stretch of road, produced 500 bags, weighing over 10,000 kilograms, with 10,000 empty crisp bags, 7,500 plastic bottles, and 5,000 disposable coffee cups.

The council is considering installing extra litter-warning signage and CCTV.


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