HOUSEHOLDERS in Co Limerick are to face fines of almost €2,000 if they fail to show they have a waste collection service in place.
Stringent laws to combat littering are being brought in by Limerick Co Council following a study that shows the dumping of rubbish in the countryside is being done mostly by rural residents.
A bye-law will compel rural households to engage waste disposal companies to collect their rubbish when they are living near a collection route.
Households and businesses will have to show they have a waste collection arrangement with the council or private waste collection operator. Fines of up to €1,900 will be handed out on those found in breach of the bye-law.
The council last year had to remove and dispose of more than 4,500 tonnes of waste dumped illegally, mostly on the side of quiet country roads.
Director of environment and emergency services Gerry Behan said: “The incidence of illegal dumping has reached very serious proportions. We have established that there are over 18,000 (county) households (44%) out of 42,000 not availing of a collection service.
“This is despite the fact that the vast majority of households are on a serviced collection route and simply choose not to avail of the service. In our minds, there is a definite link between the two.”
Cllr Mary Jackman, chairwoman of the council’s environment committee, said it was shocking that so many households are not availing of a waste collection service.
She said: “What are they doing with their rubbish? ”
Mr Behan said a huge number of households in Co Limerick still chose not to pay for a bin collection service.
“The big question is where is the stuff going. Maybe some is being recycled. But the reality that a lot is being burned or dumped, which are both illegal. That is the nub of the problem. We have tried to take the route of educating people and if that did not work to prosecute and impose fines. But basically this is not working, so now we are going ahead with new bye-laws to tackle the problem.
“The vast majority of households in the county, up to 90%, have access to the various waste disposal services offered by different companies.
“We are now going back to basics to deal with the problem. One other county, Leitrim, has gone this route and it has proven very successful.”
It is hoped that the bye-laws will be in force by next October after a process of public consultation and council approval.
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