Authorities braced for season of illegal dumping
A 'black bag' epidemic has been tarnishing some of the country's most scenic beauty spots as householders avoid refuse charges.
Litter wardens and forestry officials are already braced for a spate of dumping over the festive period.
Local authorities have been dealing with a massive increase in dumping, with the equivalent of 214,000 household rubbish bags removed from the Wicklow and Dublin mountains alone.
"Due to the current economic downturn we have seen an increase in small-scale illegal dumping, in particular domestic rubbish bags," Ian Davis, from the PURE partnership project, set-up to combat dumping in the Wicklow and Dublin uplands, said.
"Over the Christmas we see an increase higher than during any other period. During November and December people are clearing out their sheds and getting the house ready. Then in January people are going around offering a very low price for the removal of rubbish and invariably that ends up in the mountains."
The problem is nationwide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on track to log more than 1,240 complaints of dumping this year.
Reports of fly-tipping have almost doubled with 730 received so far this year, compared with 432 during 2009, according to the EPA.
More than 6,100 instances of suspected illegal dumping have been reported to the environmental watchdog's 'Dump the Dumpers' hotline since the summer of 2006.
Among the measures being deployed are CCTV cameras, checkpoints with gardai, erecting barriers and helicopter fly-overs.
"We are using CCTV, particularly at our Bring Centres, and this is successful in getting convictions," a council spokeswoman said.
Mr Davis warned the number of businesses and householders handing over their rubbish to illegal waste collectors continues to be a problem.
He urged people to check the waste collector has a permit before giving them the rubbish or they could end up facing a conviction.
In one instance, around two tonnes of tyres were dumped in a Coillte Forest, while an unauthorised collector was also convicted after collecting rubbish from a business and dumping it just two-miles away.
The fines vary from €150 up to €3,000 if a person is convicted of handing waste over to an unauthorised collector.