Householders will shortly have to pay by weight for the disposal of recyclable waste in Co Cork’s 11 civic amenity centres.
The planned charges on cans, bottles, paper, and plastics will lead to a drastic increase in illegal dumping, county councillors warned.
A flat rate of €3 for entry, with a further small charge for non-recyclable waste, currently applies at all the centres.
However, Cork County Council said it is installing new weighing machines to measure and charge for the amount of all waste disposed of at the sites. The local authority said a charge per kg has not yet been determined.
The decision to charge consumers for the disposal of recyclable materials was brought in by the Government. Councillors from a number of political parties said it was a retrograde step and would lead to further roadside dumping.
Concern has also been raised about the reduction in opening hours for such sites, especially in West Cork, where staff are also being redeployed to tackle litter blackspots.
Statistics provided by officials show reduced opening hours on peninsula sites at Derryconnell and Castletownbere led to 2,000 fewer visitors.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said there were also cutbacks in opening hours at the site in Clonakilty. He urged officials to increase them, especially during the summer tourist season.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said she feared people would put domestic rubbish into council street bins, which would result in a drain on the local authority’s budget.
Cllr Michael Collins (Ind) said the cuts to opening hours at the Mizen and Beara Peninsula sites had already led to increased illegal dumping, according to reports from Tidy Towns groups. “That’s what they’re relaying back to me,” he told officials.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said the proposed per-kilo charge for disposing of recyclable material was “ a complete disincentive” to the state’s green policies.
“I think it’s absolutely daft. It’s absolutely going in the wrong direction,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Collins described it as “an appalling decision”, adding that “some people in Government were totally out of touch with reality”.
Sharon Corcoran, the council’s head of environmental services, said the local authority had no choice but to impose pay-by-weight regulations from July 1 at all the civic amenity sites.
Ms Corcoran said the Government’s idea was to reduce waste.
“The implication for local authorities is all our civic amenity sites will have to charge based on per-kilo disposed of recyclables. We will start shortly to put weighing facilities into all our 11 civic amenity sites,” said Ms Corcoran.
“The public will have to get used to paying by weight, rather than the current €3 flat charge.
“It will change behavioural patterns again. People who dump anyway are those who don’t want to pay.
Ms Corcoran said she will revisit certain cuts to opening hours at civic amenity sites.
However, she said: “Numbers visiting are up at civic amenity sites nearer the city [such as Raffeen]. They are down in West Cork, but we feel people are coming to them less often but with greater volume.”
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