Hidden CCTV cameras at illegal dumping black spots in Kerry are frightening off potential offenders.
Since the cameras were introduced three years ago, the number of cases needing investigation has fallen from 658 in 2009 to 580 in 2010 and 506 last year.
However, according to Kerry County Council’s director of environmental services, Oliver Ring, there is a problem in tracking illegal dumpers because they are careful not to leave any evidence of identification behind. “There continues to be difficulty in recovering evidence from the sites,” he said.
He welcomed an increasing trend whereby the public are reporting littered areas and encouraged communities to “police” their own areas in regard to littering and notify the council of complaints.
During 2011, hidden cameras were used to monitor seven well-known black spots in remote locations and one successful prosecution resulted.
Signs have also been erected at black spots informing the public that such areas are subject to periodic hidden surveillance.
A second camera system was purchased last year for use at Kerry’s bring bank network.
Overall, litter wardens have reported a significant decrease in instances of small-scale dumping — ie, one or two bags — but there has been a slight increase in the number of sites with larger amounts of waste.
Investigating wardens have to filter through waste to find evidence identifying an offender. They then arrange clean-ups, which can cost the council up to €3,500 per site.
Meanwhile, there was also a big drop in the number of abandoned vehicles recovered last year, down to 18 from 31 in 2010, and 47 in 2009.
Cllr Michael Gleeson compared serious litterbugs to thugs and criminals and suggested that litter wardens be given the authority to ask people out with dogs if they have a pooper scooper or an appropriate bag.
Mr Ring said dog fouling was a significant problem around the county.
Over 83% of all primary schools and 90% of second-level schools in Kerry are registered for the Green Flag project.
Litter pickers, battery boxes and composters are delivered to each participating school and schools are also urged to take part in the National Spring Clean, due to take place next month.
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