Coun­cil clean-up crew tack­les il­le­gal dump­ing

Wexford People - - NEWS - By MARIA PEP­PER

A rapid re­sponse en­vi­ron­men­tal clean-up crew has been es­tab­lished in Wex­ford County Coun­cil to deal with il­le­gal dump­ing with mem­bers of the pub­lic en­cour­aged to ring a spe­cial tele­phone which will re­sult in most rub­bish be­ing cleared away within 48 hours of the call at the lat­est.

Af­ter the es­tab­lish­ment of mu­nic­i­pal districts, il­le­gal dump­ing was han­dled by var­i­ous staff with no struc­tured record­ing of in­ci­dents of il­le­gal waste and a lack of clar­ity in terms of re­spon­si­bil­ity lead­ing to com­plaints of ‘go­ing around the houses’.

In 2017, a €2 charge was in­tro­duced at County Wex­ford waste cen­tres to fund an En­vi­ron­men­tal Clean-up Crew, in­creas­ing from six to 11 staff op­er­at­ing over a six-day work­ing week, to deal with all il­le­gal dump­ing in pub­lic places in­clud­ing all towns and Coun­cil-owned land.

‘It’s a one-stop so­lu­tion for re­spond­ing to il­le­gal dump­ing in pub­lic places through the Cus­tomer Ser­vice Unit’, said En­vi­ron­ment Depart­ment Se­nior En­gi­neer Gerry Forde, who has pre­dicted an in­crease in ac­tiv­ity and fines.

‘It’s a move from a re­ac­tive to a proac­tive ap­proach and re­sponse times will be im­proved and il­le­gal waste actvity will be doc­u­mented’, he said.

Il­le­gal dump­ing hotspots around the county are be­ing mon­i­tored by lo­cally-based crews with knowl­edge of the ar­eas and big­ger crews will en­able more ring buoy inspections in coastal ar­eas and other beach main­te­nance works.

The ex­tra cost of the im­proved ser­vice is €275,000 a year in­clud­ing €180,000 for five ad­di­tional staff at an av­er­age of €36,000 per per­son; €60,000 in set-up costs and €35,000 for dis­pos­ing of ad­di­tional waste.

The ad­di­tional rev­enue is be­ing raised by €150,000 from the €2 charge at refuse cen­tres; €17,000 in op­er­a­tional savings due to ad­di­tional staff; €10,000 in­crease in fines and €3,000 from the South­ern Waste Re­gion for anti-dump­ing projects, giv­ing a short­fall of €95,000.

The en­vi­ron­ment en­gi­neer of­fered some in­ter­est­ing sta­tis­tics which were recorded fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the €2 charge at amenity sites - the num­ber of cus­tomers vis­it­ing has de­creased by 38% and the ton­nage re­cy­cled has dropped by 13%.

He said these fig­ures sug­gest that ser­vice users are man­ag­ing their vis­its more pro­duc­tively and the Re­duce Re­use and Recycle Cam­paign is lead­ing to a re­duc­tion in the vol­ume of re­cy­clables. He added that the vast bulk of il­le­gal dump­ing ma­te­rial is resid­ual waste and not re­cy­clable ma­te­rial.

Fol­low­ing the €2 charge, the ton­nage of mu­nic­i­pal waste into Holmestown has in­creased by 27%.

Gen­eral Ser­vices Man­ager at Holmestown Noel Byrne ex­plained that when some­one rings the Cus­tomer Ser­vice Unit of the Coun­cil to re­port an in­ci­dence of il­le­gal dump­ing, the de­tails and di­rec­tions are taken and saved on the sys­tem. A no­tice is sent to his phone and he as­signs the job to a fore­man in the north or south of the county who sends staff out to deal with the prob­lem.

Mr. Byrne said it may be pos­si­ble to have the job picked up within two to three hours with the outer time limit for col­lec­tion be­ing three days. The vast bulk of com­plaints will be han­dled within 48 hours. If it’s not done within that time­frame, there may be a prob­lem with ac­cess­ing the rub­bish or per­mis­sion may be needed from a landowner.

Be­fore and af­ter pho­to­graphs are taken of the site and de­tails out­lined in a re­port sent to County Hall.

Peter Byrne, a Waste Dis­posal Su­per­vi­sor with the En­vi­ron­ment Depart­ment said that

in il­le­gal dump­ing hotspot ar­eas a card is dropped into house­holds, in­form­ing them that waste has been found in a cer­tain lo­ca­tion which is be­ing mon­i­tored.

In­de­pen­dend coun­cil­lor Ger Carthy said it’s be­com­ing too ex­pen­sive to dis­pose of rub­bish. ‘We sold out when we closed the dump’, he told a Wex­ford District Coun­cil meet­ing. He sug­gested that the Coun­cil should be look­ing for proof from peo­ple of where they dis­pose of their rub­bish. Cllr. Jim Moore of Fine Gael said the pub­lic have be­come ‘more and more in­tol­er­ant of the few who de­stroy the en­vi­ron­ment’.

‘We should cap­i­talise on peo­ple’s good­will and civic con­cern’, said Cllr. Moore, adding that the €2 charge is pe­nal­is­ing peo­ple who are al­ready re­cy­cling their rub­bish.

‘I know peo­ple who don’t have a bin but go to Holmestown ev­ery week to recycle. I think we should of­fer the in­cen­tive that if you use it one week you get the sec­ond week free. We need to pe­nalise peo­ple who are dump­ing. We need more fines’.

Cllr. Tony Walsh of Peo­ple Be­fore Profit said he is a great be­liever in ed­u­ca­tion and chang­ing the pub­lic mind­set in re­la­tion to rub­bish.

‘I’m weigh­ing this up against the low suc­cess rate in fines. I would like to see more suc­cess in the fines area’, he added.

Gerry Forde said the most se­ri­ous com­plaints han­dled by the en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment are in re­la­tion to coastal ero­sion and global warm­ing fol­lowed in sec­ond place by wa­ter qual­ity and in third place by il­le­gal dump­ing.

In re­la­tion to the €2 charge, he said that un­for­tu­nately the ser­vice costs money. Pre­vi­ously, the Coun­cil re­ceived pay­ments to dis­pose of glass, now it has to pay for the ser­vice.

Cllr. Carthy high­lighted the in­ci­dence of il­le­gal dump­ing in ru­ral Ire­land and said a pro­vi­sion for a €25,000 in­crease in the Wex­ford district budget next year to deal with it is not suf­fi­cient to com­bat the prob­lem.

‘We have the fund­ing we looked for’, replied Mr. Forde, adding that so far this year, the County Coun­cil has is­sued 237 fines.

Peter Byrne said most of the peo­ple were were cus­tomers of refuse cen­tres two to three years ago are still cus­tomers.

‘A lot of the stuff we are pick­ing up, you can bring for free to our re­cy­cling cen­tres’, he added.

The Coun­cil’s free phone num­ber for re­port­ing il­le­gal dump­ing is 1800 386 733.

Gerry Forde: ‘one-stop so­lu­tion’.

Blight on the land­scape: an ex­am­ple of il­le­gal dump­ing.

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