Thomas Cooney said the Irish Farmers Association has contacted Minister for Local Government Simon Coveney in recent days, urging him to address the scourge of littering in the countryside and impose increased fines, with greater enforcement activity by local authorities to address littering by passing motorists and users of the countryside.

"Each year thousands of farm families and rural dwellers do great work trying to keep their communities litter free," he said. "It is now time that Government and local authorities step up and work with rural Ireland to address this issue in a co-ordinated way.”

The IFA has identified five action points to stop the problem of littering in the countryside:

  • Stronger penalties to tackle litter dumping – over 95% of IFA members surveyed support the introduction of tougher penalties being imposed on anyone who dumps litter in the countryside.
  • Enforcement of anti-litter laws – The Department of Local Government and each County Council must develop and publish an annual enforcement strategy to tackle illegal dumping.
  • Changes to litter legislation – existing litter legislation must be reviewed, to include provisions to address data protection concerns where CCTV cameras are used. The threat of fines and prosecutions on those whose lands others dump litter recklessly on must be removed.
  • Civic amenity sites on the outskirts of towns and villages – a network of strategically located skips should be developed on the outskirts of towns and villages, where people can safely dispose of rubbish, rather than litter the countryside.
  • Communication and education campaign – local authority environmental enforcement officers must liaise directly with the public to highlight the problem of rural littering, and encourage people to take their litter home and dispose of it correctly. This should be supported by a major national television, radio and print media campaign to highlight the issue.
  • Flytipping

    There has been a 50% increase in reported incidents of illegal dumping and littering in the past five years, according to a recent report from Irish Farmers Journal correspondent William Conlon.

    The Environmental Protection Agency operates a National Environmental Complaints Line and received 1,600 complaints in 2015 alone. Of these complaints, over 65% were due to the dumping of black bin bags, with another 10% due to littering. However, this 1,600 is only a snapshot of the approximately 60,000 environmental complaints county councils receive each year.

    Figures obtained from Wexford County Council, Conlon writes, put the cost of dealing with the effects of litter at approximately €2.69m a year.

    Complaints made to Kildare and Kerry county councils between 2011 and 2015 show increases of over 50% for each of them. The number of complaints increased from 729 to 1,134 cases in Kildare, and 511 to 787 cases in Kerry.

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