Major improvements have been found in the latest national litter survey, but extra work is still needed in some poorer, urban areas.
Nearly four out of five towns or areas have improved their position since the final 2016 Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) Anti-Litter League table was published in January.
In the 2017 first round table showing the outcome of surveys in 40 towns and urban areas, Tullamore is ranked highest. It is one of 16 towns or areas branded ‘cleaner than European norms’, up from 13 areas in this top category in the final 2016 league.
The Offaly town was ranked 14th and only ‘clean to European norms’ when it was last included in the survey in 2015. But An Taisce inspectors who assessed litter levels this summer praised Tullamore for having “so many top-ranking sites” and approach roads, with hanging baskets, ornamental trees, and larger planter boxes making many areas very colourful.
The pristine roads around Dublin Airport earned the area second place, helping to form a positive first impression for many tourists. It represents a huge improvement, moving up from ninth in 2016 and having been deemed a litter blackspot when the airport environs were first surveyed five years ago.
IBAL decided in response to feedback from local councillors to examine Cork North City this year, rather than focusing on the Farranree area. This followed criticisms for singling out the northside suburb, which had been one of just three in the country found to be ‘seriously littered’.
The broader Cork North City area examined this time includes parts of the inner city, and suburban areas mostly in the north-west of the city. It was ‘littered’, but was not a blackspot.
Mahon on Cork’s southside is still 36th of the 40 areas, but has improved its status from ‘littered’ to ‘moderately littered’.
“Overall, it’s a better picture. And nationally, this is the best result we’ve had in the 16 years of doing these surveys, including in problem areas like Cork North City,” IBAL spokesperson Conor Horgan said.
Other areas showing improvement are Thomondgate in Limerick city, which is ‘cleaner than European norms’. When it last featured in the IBAL survey in 2015, it was placed 30th and was ‘clean to European norms’.
Ballybane in Galway city was moderately littered in 2016, but is now ‘clean to European norms; and Ballymun in Dublin, ranked 35th, has moved from ‘littered’ to ‘moderately littered’.
Galvone in Limerick City was seriously littered again, as it was in the final 2016 IBAL league table. As the only area in that category, it was last out of 40 in the league table.
While disadvantaged areas dominate the lower ranks again, Mr Horgan said this does not necessarily reflect the local community alone, but highlights a need for local authorities to concentrate more on certain areas where tidy towns and other groups are likely to be less active.
While cities and towns are much cleaner than 15 years ago, he said dumping appears to be on the increase. IBAL believes some of the money raised from the pay-by-weight refuse collection system should be ringfenced for councils to tackle the increased dumping likely to result.