Kittens, dogs and fully-decorated Christmas trees are just some of the items that have been illegally dumped across Ireland's scenic countrysides.
Fields, roadsides and even war memorials have become dumping grounds in recent weeks, with the clean up costing the tax payer thousands every year.
Calls are being made for more stringent dumping laws as numerous areas around the country have been hit with illegal dumping.
More than 500 beer cans were dumped in recent days at a war memorial garden in Hollyford, Co Wexford.
The local Tidy Towns committee members were shocked as they were greeted with piles of rubbish dumped at the 1916 garden area near the River Bann in the village.
A pile of more than 500 beer cans and glass bottles were left, along with an artificial Christmas tree with decorations still attached, plates, mugs, a grill with tinfoil and cooking oil still on it as well as broken glass.
There is a recycling centre just 200m away, that takes bottles and cans.
In Sligo, two kittens were placed in a plastic bag with some rocks before being dumped. Just one had survived when it was found.
Little Skye, who was barely six weeks old, was found on the beach near Aughris Head by a member of the public who brought her home and brought her back from near death.
She survived purely because there was a small bit of air in the bag.
Meanwhile, thousands of used tyres have been dumped in remote mountain areas in some of the most scenic parts of the country in recent weeks leading to calls for a cross-border criminal investigation to target those responsible.
The Argus reports that huge quantities of tyres have been dumped on bog land close to the mountain road to Clermont Carm appeared on social media recently, and there are also reports of similar incidents of tyres being dumped at Edentubber, on Coillte owned lands at Feede Mountain, and at Slieve Gullion in South Armagh.
A quantity of used tyres was also dumped at the old Newry Road in the weeks before Christmas.
Now, a review of current legislation, by Environment Minister Denis Naughten, is being considered according to the IFA, which says dumping is a very serious issue for its members.
The Litter Pollution, Waste Management and the Protection of the Environment Acts regulate the issue with fines varying from €150 for on the spot fines up to €15m for large scale illegal dumping, however dumping continues to be a blight on the landscape.
Dog dumped on roadside
Residents in the Brownswood area were appalled to find a dead dog callously discarded at the side of the road, along with its kennel.
According to the Enniscorthy Guardian, the animal was discovered by residents at a spot where just a few weeks ago a huge amount of furniture and household waste was dumped, leading to calls for CCTV cameras to be installed there.
Meath Gardai Crime Prevention is warning people to be wary of bogus collectors and says that people are responsible for their waste, from when it leaves your front gate to where it ends up for disposal.
Under the Waste Management Regulations all waste collectors must have a valid Waste Collection Permit. If a ‘man with a van’ arrives at your gate seeking to take and dispose of your waste, there is every chance that your waste will end up dumped – in a bog, in a field, on the beach.
If the council cleans it up you are paying on the double, paying the bogus collector and paying again through your taxes to have it cleared. If it can be linked to you – you will pay a third time – in court, Meath Gardai say.
The most up to date figures date from 2016 show that 57,815 complaints regarding illegal waste issues were received by local authorities nationwide up from 53,860 in 2014.
According to the IFA the majority of the fly tipping is done on the outskirts of cities, large towns and isolated rural areas.
"Every day I check the fields and every day I find rubbish"
One such victim of illegal dumping is Jim Scully, a dairy farmer who has been leasing land from the DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) for several years, it is a daily headache of what rubbish he will find strewn across his fields when working.
“Every day I go out and check the fields and it’s every day I’m having to get rid of all types of rubbish fly tipped here. It’s always at night when the waste is dumped, hardly ever during the day.
“A lot of the stuff is in bin bags which is domestic or office waste, but other times it’s rubble which can be difficult to deal with, so I try to spread it about around gaps in fields.
“I’ve even found live rabbits in dumped bags one time and another time I discovered a little black dog which I managed to keep alive. The dog is now part of the household.
"I’ve had numerous conversations with the litter warden around here and it’s a problem that’s just not going away.
“I’ve found everything and anything in those bags and a lot of them have receipts, letters and other material which could identify people quite easily but I’m not going to go after them about this.
“The real issue here, is the people who are illegally hired to dump this rubbish illegally, they are the ones who need to gone after by the local authorities.”
Fines vary from on the spot fines of €150, or a maximum fine of €3,000 if you are convicted in the District Court, while the Protection of the Environment Act introduced conviction on indictment and carries a maximum fine not exceeding €130,000 and a fine not exceeding €10,000 per day for continuing offences.
The IFA’s Environment & Rural Affairs Chairman Thomas Cooney has called for a robust response from Climate Action and Environment Minister Denis Naughten and local authorities nationwide in, “tackling serial dumpers, who use the countryside as an illegal tipping ground.”
“The Association is seeking increased fines, with greater enforcement activity by local authorities to address littering. Illegal dumping is blighting the outskirts of large urban and isolated areas, along land a lot of the time, which is owned or leased by farmers."
However, Mr Cooney pointed out that the heavy-handed approach by some local authorities, who issue warning letters to farmers, landowners and rural dwellers to clean up the mess left by others in the countryside, “is totally unacceptable.
“I’ve met with Minister Naughten and he has mooted that a review of the legislation will take place.
“The IFA has identified the following five action points to stop the problem of littering in the countryside. These include; stronger penalties to tackle litter dumping and the enforcement of anti-litter laws."
400,000 Bags of Rubbish
One of the country's most scenic areas, the Sally Gap, has been blighted with litter and dumping for years.
In the past 12 years, 400,000 large bin bags have been dumped in Wicklow and south Dublin, with the Sally Gap one of the areas to be affected.
Ian Davis, of the PURE Project scheme, the first of its kind in the country, based in Wicklow and South County Dublin, which said he continues to be shocked by the, “unbelievable and disturbing levels of dumping and actions of people.”
The scheme incorporates statutory and non-statutory organisations including; Wicklow County Council, Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council, Coillte, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Wicklow Uplands Council.
“We have literally removed, thousands of tons of rubbish or 400,000 refuse sacks from Wicklow and South County Dublin, that’s how bad the situation is. Imagine arriving in the scenic area of the Sally Gap and finding that amount of rubbish lying there. Last year alone we removed 2,300 discarded tyres. It’s been truly appalling."
The project is working in around 1,000 locations across Wicklow and South County Dublin by incorporating community involvement, the use of CCTV to capture illegal dumpers, local authorities and Government agencies.
“Educating the public and local communities is vital if we are to stamp out such activity properly as the threat of legal enforcement will not work on its own in tackling this. Encouraging communities to look after, what we call, the PURE MILE, in their local area is working.
“The aim is to adopt a mile of road in their local area and keep it free from litter.
“This project continues to be such a success because it works on a multi-disciplinary approach. I would love to see PURE rolled out nationally as I firmly believe it is a project that is working successfully because since we started it almost 12 years ago the levels of illegal dumping in this area have begun to decrease.”
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