Strong mea­sures needed to com­bat grow­ing men­ace of il­le­gal dump­ing

Irish Independent - Farming - - ANALYSIS/BEEF FEATURE - ANN FITZGER­ALD

AF­TER writ­ing a col­umn last year about dog foul­ing in my nearby town of Abbeyleix, word fil­tered through that the sec­re­tary of the lo­cal Tidy Towns com­mit­tee, Mary White, wanted to talk to me.

When we did con­nect, I feared I was go­ing to be taken to task for my com­ments.

But I was pleas­antly sur­prised (and a lit­tle re­lieved) when Mary said that she to­tally agreed with what I had said.

What a ma­ture and prag­matic re­ac­tion! It would have been very easy to shoot the mes­sen­ger. But she in­stead said that they were al­ready work­ing on a plan to deal with the prob­lem. Con­cerned lo­cal dog own­ers sub­se­quently took charge of the ini­tia­tive.

It was no sur­prise, then, that Abbeyleix re­cently emerged as county win­ner in the 2017 Tidy Towns com­pe­ti­tion.

The beau­ti­ful her­itage town also re­cently se­cured a Sil­ver Medal in the 2017 En­tente Flo­rale Europe com­pe­ti­tion, which aims to pro­mote and greener and more pleas­ant en­vi­ron­ment in Euro­pean towns and vil­lages. Ire­land’s other en­try, Glaslough, Co Mon­aghan, won a Gold.

In the same com­pe­ti­tion, Abbeyleix Bog — which is man­aged by a com­mu­ni­tybased vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion and en­com­passes an area of al­most 500 acres of di­verse habi­tats in­clud­ing de­graded (but re­cov­er­ing) raised bog and wood­land — won the Pres­i­dent’s Prize for the best bio­di­ver­sity project.

Hearty con­grat­u­la­tions to all con­cerned.

I was also de­lighted to see the pe­tite Tip­per­ary vil­lage of Bird­hill win the over­all Tidy Towns prize. It’s now by-passed, so I, like most peo­ple, rarely drive through it, but I hap­pened to be down that part of the coun­try last week, so I had a look. Even af­ter all the rain, it still looked stun­ning.

One of the things that jumped out at me was the ap­pear­ance of its grass mar­gins. There was a mown strip along the road to show that it’s be­ing man­aged, but the re­main­der was un­touched, to max­imise its bio­di­ver­sity value.

There was a time that such mar­gins would be seen as un­tidy, but they are now in­cen­tivised in the Tidy Towns mark­ing. The best way to change be­hav­iour is through in­cen­tive.

In var­i­ous in­ter­views by chair­man of the lo­cal com­mit­tee, De­nis Floyd, the com­mon thread was grat­i­tude to the many vol­un­teers from all walks of life who ded­i­cate so much of their time to mak­ing their vil­lage beau­ti­ful — in more of a Rose of Tralee kind of way than a Miss World.

Their pride of place is in stark con­trast to the ac­tion which led to a phone call I got last week from a farmer in my na­tive county of Lim­er­ick.

When he had gone out that morn­ing to check cat­tle on an out-farm, he found that a cou­ple of black bin bags had been chucked in over the hedge.

One bag that was torn up by the cat­tle con­tained nap­pies, glass bot­tles, food cans, cig­a­rette pack­ets and horse hair. An­other bag was full of horse dung. That one wasn’t so bad. He just tipped it out on the field.

Some peo­ple may blame their il­le­gal dump­ing on in­creased dis­posal costs, but those re­spon­si­ble still have money for cig­a­rettes — and some of this stuff can be re­cy­cled for free.

Fig­ures re­leased ear­lier this year show that an es­ti­mated 60 tonnes of waste is il­le­gally dumped in Ire­land every day, and the prob­lem seems to be get­ting worse, not bet­ter. So what can be done? In the short-term, if waste has been dumped on your land, it is vi­tal to have the rub­bish re­moved as quickly as pos­si­ble. Once one bag is dropped, it acts like a mag­net for other dumpers.

In the longer term, there is no one sim­ple so­lu­tion.

I said above that in­cen­tives are the best way to achieve re­sults but they only work when you are push­ing an open door.

Has the time come when ev­ery­one re­ceiv­ing any State pay­ment would have to pro­duce ev­i­dence that their house­hold rub­bish is be­ing re­spon­si­bly dis­posed of?

A car­rot works on will­ing peo­ple — un­will­ing ones need a stick.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.