By Louise Walsh
A Meath councillor is calling for dog-poo powered street lighting in an effort to combat dog fouling.
Fine Gael Cllr Noel French is highlighting the problem on the back of only 12 fines issued by Meath Co. Council in five years for dog fouling.
Cllr French is asking the council to install dog poo operated lighting on public paths in his native Trim.
"Britain's first dog-poo powered street-lamp has been installed to help clear up verges and a guide for walkers descending from the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire," he said.
"Dog walkers are provided with free compostable bags and encouraged to deposit the dog poo into a hatch leading to an anaerobic digester beside the lamp.
"Ten bags of poo is sufficient to provide two hours of light from dusk. Dog owners are encouraged to turn a handle five times which helps break down the contents of the digester to produce methane to fuel the lamp."
"I'm running out of ideas to try and press the council to issue more fines.
Of figures obtained by Cllr French, he said: "There were three fines dolled out last year, four in 2016 and five in 2015. No fines were issued in either 2013 or 2014.
"So that's a total of 12 fines for dog fouling in five years and only five of them were paid!"
It's not the first time that Cllr French has urged the council to adopt the 'lead' of other countries in tackling the issue.
"In 2015, I called for the poo to be sprayed a bright colour which has been done by Corby Council in England. I also called for a DNA database on dog licences to be used to trace the owners and, alike a town in Spain, post the pooh back to them as lost property.
"I've also asked for mobile CCTV."
However, his call for an audio warning about dog fouling has been installed at a park in Navan and his suggestion to use drones to catch the owners of dog foulers has been adopted to combat littering.
"We need a more stick and less carrot approach to this and the only way that will make owners think is to issue more fines and enforce they are paid.
"We have to make it socially unacceptable to allow your dog to foul a public area. I've been approached so many times by people who are wheelchair users and those who are visually impaired who are tainted by it time and time again.
"It's horrific when a visually impaired person can't see the poo until it's too late and it's on their shoes or stick, which often the hands of wheelchair users are covered in poo after they wheel their chair through it."