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MOUNTSHANNON continues to be one of the cleanest harbours in the country in the latest Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey which found both Lahinch Beach and Doolin Pier to be moderately littered.

(Additional reporting by Zoe Howell)

Overall, litter levels are on the rise, with only 8 of 33 areas surveyed receiving the ‘Clean’ designation. Alongside its impact on tourism and recreation, IBAL is warning that coastal litter has grave implications for the future of our planet.

In its report for Mountshannon, An Taisce stated that it was “a very freshly presented and well-maintained environment with evidence of community clean-up and a thorough cleaning regime. Very good dog fouling signage and facilities for the disposal of same – this appears to be having the desired effect – there was no evidence of same. The recycle facility was well presented and clear of any accumulations; recently erected signage discouraging the feeding of swans as they defecate in the swimming area, contaminating the water; cigarette butts were obvious but apart from that, there was a virtual absence of litter throughout the area surveyed”.

Although Lahinch has “plenty of dog fouling signage” attached to railings, rocks and imprinted on the ground with audio messages to boot, instances of dog fouling are still prevalent, the report noted. “Cigarette butts were also obvious, particularly around the drains. Other litter items included plastic bottles, fast-food wrappers and sweet papers; marine related items included fishing lines / nets / rope (found in the rock armour on the beach). The surrounds of the top car park were littered and there were no visible litter bins”.

Doolin has “a heavy cigarette butt presence in the car park,” the report found. Drivers are understood to be throwing them from parked cars along with plastic bottles, utensils and sweet wrappers. “Some dog fouling and covid related litter was present. There weren’t any bins apart beside the food stand and no opportunities for the separating / recycling of litter. Both the yellow and green ‘Mutt Mitt’ facility were fresh and clean; signage relating to beach usage, parking, ‘Scoop the Poop’ and ‘Keep Dogs on Lead’ was in good order”.

Beaches, harbours, rivers and their immediate environs were monitored by An Taisce in June and July. “Unfortunately the improvement observed at our beaches last year seems to have reversed this time round,” commented IBAL’s Conor Horgan. “We had hoped that the decline in Covid-related litter might bring an improvement in overall cleanliness, added to the fact that many who staycationed last year would have travelled abroad this summer. Our most popular beaches are not heavily littered, but they’re not as clean as they should be”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cllr Shane Talty (FF) voiced his surprise with the findings,” I wouldn’t consider it littered. I think there is a strong, active team of cleaning staff that are stationed in Lahinch all year round and there is extra stuff done there in the summer so I’d be surprised that somebody would class it as littered but if that’s the case, we need to see how we can improve it”.

He acknowledged that the findings were a setback for Lahinch and Doolin. “We are all the time looking for publicity and promoting the area as a location for visitors to come and enjoy themselves so it is a bit of a setback. When you see some negative publicity for the area so you know the message for ourselves is that Lahinch is clean and attractive and a nice place to visit and we will continue to do all we can but the Council and the staff but also the community and voluntary groups to do all we can to keep the place presented well”.

“We need to double down on the communication side of it, we need to up our game in terms of the waste management and facilities and services to make sure there’s enough staff from the Council side but definitely the communication and the public need to do their side as well,” the Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District commented.

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