Call to double budget for litter problem

THE National Roads Authority (NRA) has called for the country’s road maintenance budget to be more than doubled to ensure real action to tackle litter on tourist thoroughfares.

Speaking after a new nationwide study by the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) group found “appalling” levels of rubbish tipped across vital entry points to Ireland, an NRA spokesperson said the current €44 million maintenance budget was inadequate.

According to the official, the existing budget is not confined only to funding anti-litter projects, but instead addresses a series of road issues, such as de-icing, repair work and barrier replacements.

The NRA spokesperson said he could not immediately confirm how much of this current budget is spent every year on rubbish clear-ups on the roads as the funding is divided between each local authority, which has responsibility for roads in its jurisdiction.

However, he insisted that regardless of the expense the current sum was entirely ineffective and needed to be increased to up to €100 million if any real action to address the litter crisis is to be made.

“Local authorities are the governing acting bodies of all roads in their jurisdiction, but in fairness to them the €44m given to them for maintenance is not adequate.

“Genuinely, I don’t know how much of that is being spent on litter pick-up.

“But it’s an inadequate amount of funding, and for all that needs to be done you would need about €100m,” he said, adding that €17m of this year’s €44m budget has already been spent on de-icing and other January freeze issues.

The comment came after the Irish Businesses Against Litter (IBAL) league survey, released yesterday, found that the vast majority of the country’s tourist entry points are covered in rubbish.

According to the group’s national survey, the worst offending areas included the M1 near Dublin Airport, the M1 from Dublin Port Tunnel, the M18 near Shannon Airport, the N25 Cork to Waterford/Rosslare road, and the N20 Cork to Limerick approach road.

The survey, which was supported by environmental group An Taisce, found that damage at the sites ranged from an “array of debris” on roads to areas which had been “extensively fly-tipped”.

While the scenes reported were described as “appalling” and an “eye-sore” to the general public, it was noted that they are also the first image many tourists have of Ireland.

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