*Photograph: Martin Connolly
POWERS will soon be extended to Clare County Council to use CCTV and other technologies to clamp down on illegal dumping and littering.
Under the new Circular Economy Bill, measures to further promote recycling such as a levy on the use of coffee cup are also to be introduced plus alternatives to single-use disposable packaging, prohibitions on exploration for and extraction of coal, lignite and oil shale. The Bill will also work to redesignate the existing Environment Fund as a Circular Economy Fund, which will remain ring-fenced to provide support for environmental and circular economy projects.
Elected representatives in Clare have for the duration of this current Council term been extremely vocal in their pleas for the local authority to be able to use CCTV in order to prosecute persons found to be illegally dumping materials. The legislation for CCTV’s use in this area had been proposed by Senator Malcolm Byrne (FF).
Data protection regulations have heretofore prevented Clare County Council from using CCTV to identify and target individuals that have dumped items and led to certain areas becoming litter blackspots.
Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) acknowledged the need for local authorities to be empowered more to tackle illegal dumping. “While only a minority of citizens illegally dump or burn their waste, the impact of litter and fly-tipped waste on the environment, and often our most beautiful locations, is a blight on our community. We need to empower the local authority, who is responsible for waste management and enforcement, to target these practices and penalise those responsible”.
She credited the Circular Economy Bill for making this empowerment possible. “This is an issue that has been raised several times at Joint Policing Committee meetings I’ve attended and raised directly to me by many community groups left clearing up the mess left by fly tipping”.
According to the Inagh woman, the transition to a circular economy “represents a shift away from the linear ‘take, make and waste’ model, which relies on a steady supply of natural resources to create products and packaging. It also has the potential to create sustainable growth and jobs”.
Speaking at a recent sitting of the Shannon Municipal District, Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) referenced the planned legislation to introduce CCTV, drones and body cameras to alleviate illegal dumping. “It’s a major issue in our Municipal District. There are lorry-loads of rubbish thrown out onto the road in mountainous areas, at one stage a fitted kitchen was thrown onto the road,” he commented. Illegal dumping in Drumgeely is leading to the congregation of vermin, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) noted of one consequence.
Cyril Feeney of the Council’s environment section said the bill which has been put through the Oireachtas by Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications with responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth (GP) has given assurances to local authorities to provide legislative background and basis for them to use CCTV footage.