Drones and CCTV are being used to nab illegal dumpers in Westmeath and so far, the culprits caught are not only paying the fine, but are cleaning up their mess, members of Westmeath County Council were assured at their annual estimates meeting last week.
Martin Murray, director of services, said that these technological devises are helping the council combat illegal dumping. Heretofore, a lot of council time was spent rummaging through rubbish for evidence, but in most cases the culprits were too cunning to leave anything incriminating that would link them to the scene.
Mr Murray said that on the greenway, the council introduced a trial audio device that asked users to dispose of their litter and clean up after their dogs.
It proved successful and will be rolled out in other high level footfall areas, he said.
The council recently held a ‘mattress and a deco amnesty’. People were invited to take in their old mattresses and paint tins and the schemes proved successful, with a high level of response, Mr Murray said.
Cllr Una D’Arcy demanded zero tolerance on dumping. “We need to make people afraid of Westmeath County Council when it comes to dumping,” she declared and she urged the general public to report dumping immediately.
Bringing them to court is expensive, but it is the only way, she contended.
Cllr D’Arcy complained of four sites “within spitting distance of Castlepollard” where building waste is being dumped. She called for more drones and CCTV in the battle to combat the problem.
She suggested that illegal dumpers be pursued with the utmost vigour and named and shamed, like tax defaulters.
Getting out of hand
“Illegal dumping is getting out of hand all over the county and unless someone is caught and hammered, it won’t stop,” said Cllr Tom Farrell. He got another complaint about illegal dumping on the Ballymahon Athlone Road just that morning.
Cllr Michael O’Brien bemoaned the “hundreds of thousands of euro” being spent on picking up after “the absolute scum bags” who litter.
Cllr O’Brien said the audio device on the greenway to remind users to clean up after themselves and their dogs had been a huge success and “a great idea”. It was employed in Moate for two months and worked well, he reported.
Cllr Aengus O’Rourke suggested that the 1800 819 000 telephone number for reporting illegal dumping be posted on every one of the council’s yellow vans that are going around the county.
This is a very simple, but effective measure, he said adding that otherwise, it was a lost opportunity.
The use of reusable tea and coffee cups as opposed to disposable ones was encouraged by Cllr Frank Keena. He said that two million disposable cups are being throw away every day.
He welcomed the introduction in Athlone IT of a policy of bringing in your own cup and getting a discount, and urged that it be adopted elsewhere.
Cllr D’Arcy said Cllr Hill’s daughter, Carmel, was operating such a system in her shop.
Members were told that Ruth Maxwell, environmental awareness officer with the council, was contacting local businesses in Mullingar regarding reusing cups to measure the level of interest.
The cathaoirleach, Cllr John Dolan, observed that the council is spending €334,000 a year on litter removal. It’s a waste of money and we shouldn’t have to be doing it, he declared.
He suggested that the council demand that households provide proof of bin use as a way of wheedling out the illegal dumpers.
“We are sick to death of it,” he said, demanding that the culprits be brought to justice and made pay for the clean-up.
Joe Duffy of Sky High Imaging doing a drone demonstration for members of the Westmeath County Council executive and elected representatives. Joe has the drone in his hand and the camera he views on the ground is in the photo.