Litter and illegal dumping are a serious problem in Ireland. Kildare is no exception to this, and as a result, action is being taken by Kildare County Council to reduce the litter problem. What is litter?
The Litter Pollution Act, 1997 defines litter as:
"any substance or object....that, when deposited in a place other than a litter receptacle or other place lawfully designated for the deposit, is or is likely to become unsightly, deleterious, nauseous or unsanitary, whether by itself or with any other such substance or object"
This is a very broad definition because the law has to cover as many possible types of littering as possible. The council focusses on different litter problems in different ways. Dogfouling is best addressed by reminding dogowners to clean up after their dogs and dispose of the waste properly. This is achieved through signs, stencils, social media and other forms of communication. Dumping at recycling banks can be reduced through the use of cctv to identify vehicle registration plates. In other words, litter needs more than one response.
So what is the Council doing? There are two main areas of action: Education and Enforcement
Although most people are aware of the bad effects of littering, there is always a new generation that need to be informed. To this end, a major focus of the schools education programme is on litter. The Community Wardens and the Environment Awareness Officer will visit schools on request to discuss litter and how to reduce it.
This can be an enlightening process for all concerned and a visit is highly recommended if there is a litter problem in the school. Schools are also encouraged to participate in the national Green Schools programme run by An Taisce. This also keeps a focus on litter, in addition to developing attitudes to a wide range of other environental issues. A supplementary prorgramme for secondary schools called Neat Streets is an ideal way for a school to begin dealing with proactively, for more information on Green Schools, go HERE and Neat Streets HERE
is carried out by the Community Warden and our Environmental Overseers.
So what do the Community Wardens do?
It is quite simple. Wherever they observe or are informed of a litter offence, they look for evidence linking the litter to a person or persons, and issue a litter fine.
Fines can be on-the-spot (€150) or if the offence is more serious, or the initial fine is unpaid, the offender can be taken to court and a fine of up to €4,000 can be issued.
Evidence can be provided by the public, perhaps the most common example of this is people witnessing litter being discarded from vehicles- the vehicle registration is used t oconfirm the owner of the vehicle- and that is who the fine is issued to.
Large-scale dumping (usually commercial) is dealt with by our Environmtal Overseers, they typically enforce the Waste Management Act regulations, to ensure commercial waste companies are dealing with their waste legally.
The council provides bags and litter pickers and through the MD offices, and can also collect bagged litter (not green waste) from organised cleanups (bags and picker form and removal of waste form available HERE. These cleanups are frequently organised by our Tidy Towns groups, residents associations and other voluntary groups. In addition, two community-based litter schemes are supported in Kildare:
is a yearly event that happens every April. Hundreds of volunteers get out and clean up our countryside and towns. National Spring Clean is a powerful community event.
A nationwide campaign, National Spring Clean encourages and welcomes members from every sector of society to organise and actively participate in a clean up event. Run throughout the entire month of April, the campaign attracts volunteers from Residents Associations, Tidy Towns Groups, Schools, Community Groups, Youth Groups, Environmental and Voluntary Organisations and indeed individuals who simply want to clean up their own area.
The key objectives of the National Spring Clean campaign are to:
Everyone who register with An Taisce gets a clean-up pack and also becomes insured by An Taisce. for more information, go HERE
More locally, Kildare is running a great scheme for people living in rural part osf the county. It is called the Green Kilometre- essentially an "adopt a road" scheme. All participants choose a section of a local road and do litter picks as well as looking after wildlife and heritage items. The council provides native trees and shrubs to plant back into the hedgerows, turning a negative situation into a positive one! Registration form and info is available HERE
Graffiti is an offence under section 20 of the Litter Pollution Act, 1997.
Where possible, graffiti should be removed as quickly by owners of the property to prevent an accumulation over time. The council will endeavor to work with landowners where a problem exists. A protocol addressing the issue of graffiti and outlining the responsibilities for property owners and the local authority is included in the Litter Management Plan linked above and an application form for assistance (subject to available resources) is in the forms section HERE