Famed for its lakes and high peaks, scenic Kerry county has an unwanted mountain — of litter. Over 220 tonnes of general litter and household waste was fly-tipped on roadsides, and at bottle banks, in the country’s top tourist county last year.
The volume of litter dumped illegally in the county in 2017 increased by almost 38 tonnes on the previous year, a local authority’s litter pollution report disclosed.
During the country’s yearly spring clean, over an April weekend, 67 tonnes of litter was collected on roadsides. On April 8 last, 50 tonnes was collected by thousands of volunteers.
Kerry County Council advisers said smartphones and CCTV are proving invaluable in collating information quickly to catch offenders and locating blackspots.
The country’s three litter wardens recovered 28 tonnes of litter, collecting five tonnes more than in 2016. The report noted much of that litter had been dropped at bottle banks.
It also emerged some illegal dumping is on a scale which was too large for litter wardens to deal with.
In such cases, large diggers and operatives had to be used to clean sites, including viewing points at Killarney and an area near Castleisland, the council’s director of services John Breen said. He said the council was spending €2.1m on sweeping roads and street cleaning, referring to the spend as “cleaning litter that shouldn’t be there”.
The council believes the public is becoming more aware of litter. Over 800 litter pollution cases were investigated, most after complaints by the public.
However, to increase the number of prosecutions — 11 convictions in 2017 — more help from the public was needed, including witness statements, the council said.
Councillors, meanwhile, called for more litter wardens as the current staff of three is all based in Tralee.
Chewing gum, cigarette litter and dog fouling were also persistent problems in the county, the report said. In Tralee, where racing greyhounds were walked in public parks and children’s play areas in housing estates, there was a health risk from canine ‘worms’ and Independent councillor Sam Locke suggested Bord na gCon should intervene.
Dog fouling had also increased greatly in Killarney National Park and Independent Alliance councillor Michael Gleeson said the National Parks and Wildlife Service should “enforce the dog fouling rules and regulations”.
Labour councillor, wheelchair-bound, Terry O’Brien said dog fouling was “horrendous” and posed a risk to wheelchair users and people with prams. More tidy towns volunteers were also needed, it was suggested, and Kenmare’s Fine Gael councillor Patrick Connor-Scarteen joined Tralee’s Labour councillor Graham Spring in calling on sports clubs and other young people’s societies to dedicate time to clean-up efforts.
The meeting was told by Independent councillor Dan McCarthy how bags of bottles had been left at Ladies’ View on the morning after a weekend party. It also heard how at Clogher, near Ballymacelligott, clothes still on hangers were among 380kg of litter left at a fly tip; litter problems on walkways and streets in Ballybunion continue to worsen and the solution was more litter wardens and more enforcement, said Sinn Féin councillor Robert Beasley.
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