Saturday 25 March 2017

Welcome to Ireland -- sorry about the litter

Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent

WELCOME to Ireland -- please excuse the litter. The dual-carriageway outside Dublin Airport, the first road driven by most overseas visitors to Ireland, is covered in shocking amounts of litter, a new survey reveals today.

In another major blow to the recession-hit tourist industry, entry routes for most tourists to Ireland are blighted with large amounts of litter, according to the latest Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey.

The survey found the Dublin Airport road had disgusting amounts of litter scattered everywhere, and slammed the National Roads Authority (NRA) for not keeping it clean.

"It wasn't just an isolated area which was responsible for the terrible state.

"It was characterised by street cones lying in the grass verge, white plastic wrapping in the hedge and vast amounts of casual litter trapped in the shrubbery," inspectors said.

Visitors taking the tunnel from Dublin Port were greeted with "an eyesore -- there was a distinct lack of cleaning along this route", they added.

Routes in and out of Cork were also found to be litter black-spots, particularly on the Waterford/Rosslare entry.

"This route was in a shocking state, an array of all sorts of discarded rubble."

The Cork-Limerick approach road (N20) showed "patches of litter in places".

"Most litter is now hidden by vegetation," the survey said. "At a number of sites along the roads there are areas that have been extensively fly-tipped."

Visitors travelling from Shannon Airport were also greeted with "heavily littered sites" in both directions on the N18.

In contrast, both Rosslare and Dun Laoghaire Harbours were classed as excellent.

Dr Tom Cavanagh, IBAL chairman, said the survey showed that first impressions given to tourists were crucial.

"The first impression our tourists are getting is not at all good. They are encountering roads here that are not nearly as clean as in the countries they have come from. Unfortunately it recalls an old slogan, 'Welcome to Ireland. Please excuse the litter'."

IBAL is calling on the NRA to ensure visitors are welcomed by clean roads.

He said these routes were the responsibility of the NRA who engage local authorities to keep them clean.

"Be it litter-strewn shrubbery or neglected lay-bys, they are clearly failing in this task and undoing the good work of communities in towns and cities.

Performance

"With a maintenance budget of €44m, you would expect a much better performance," said the litter chief.

IBAL demanded a published schedule for the cleaning of our primary roads, as is the practice in Northern Ireland.

At the survey launch today the anti-litter body will also call for a tax on non-biodegradable chewing gum.

Environment Minister John Gormley is considering whether to introduce such a tax or renew the clean-up and education deal with gum manufacturers.

Dr Cavanagh said yesterday: "Now is the time for the Government to seize the opportunity by resisting another soft agreement with the gum industry and introducing a pioneering levy instead."

Irish Independent

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