Cork County Council is writing to the Government seeking permission to up the ante in the battle against those who “are blighting the landscape”.
It comes after Cllr John Paul O’Shea won widespread backing for a motion that the council ask the minister for housing, planning, community and local government to beef up the Litter Pollution Act 1997. He said this legislation should be amended to allow the council to increase the on-the-spot fine of €150 to €300 for leaving or throwing litter in a public place.
He also wants approval for local authorities to publicise, every three months, the names, addresses and penalties handed out to those fined and convicted of a littering offence in the courts: “It’s easily recognised that we’ve a huge problem with littering. People will risk the smaller fine and we need a proper deterrent.”
Cllr Anthony Barry fully supported his motions and even wondered if the fine increase he was suggesting should be larger. Cllr Barry said the council is incurring huge costs in cleaning up after litter louts and it is time to counter them.
Cllr Tim Collins said illegal dumping is a huge problem around forests, particularly in North Cork, and while Coillte is doing its best it cannot fence off every plantation it has. He also agreed with the naming and shaming policy.
“The on-the-spot fine for smoking on a train is €600. Fining €150 (for littering) is simply too low,” Cllr Geroid Murphy said.
Cllr Melissa Mullane pointed out she has no problem with hiking up the fine, but is concerned about naming and shaming, especially if they name the wrong person, which could get the local authority into trouble.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton agreed with the principle of the motion but was also concerned about naming and shaming: “I appreciate we have employed more litter wardens recently, but we still don’t have enough.”
But Cllr Bernard Moynihan said illegal dumping is “a kick in the teeth for those people trying to enhance their towns and villages”.
Cllr O’Shea said: “I want the minister to allow local authorities to make a decision themselves on to name and shame issue. Dublin City Council is already publicising the names of all those prosecuted in court.”