Wednesday 23 October 2019

Drones and night vision add tech twist in bid to tackle illegal dumping

Waste: Wicklow County Council battles dumping in remote areas
Waste: Wicklow County Council battles dumping in remote areas

Alan O'Keeffe

Night-vision cameras, drones and motion sensors are helping local authorities in their ongoing battle with illegal dumpers and fly-tippers.

Advances in technology have led to increased success in targeting those breaking the litter and waste disposal laws.

Problem: Domestic waste left on the street in Dublin city
Problem: Domestic waste left on the street in Dublin city

"Small, covert CCTV cameras have been very useful in detecting those responsible," said a spokesman for Wicklow County Council.

"In the past, cameras were the size of suitcases but the new covert cameras are just the size of a tin of beans. In remote areas, the cameras are movement activated which helps conserve their power sources."

Night vision is also a valuable tool in keeping watch for night-time dumpers.

Wicklow County Council has battled for a long time against illegal dumping in remote rural areas but the incidences have been steadily brought down in recent years.

Drones are increasingly used for surveillance and checking for new incidences of illegal dumping.

Wicklow officials prosecuted 42 incidences of illegal dumping last year, while 350 litter fines were levied on people for offences such as illegally disposing of small bags of domestic garbage. No householder or business person should hand over waste to anybody who is not authorised, he said.

In the past week, 600 tonnes of industrial and domestic waste was found illegally dumped in two Coillte-owned forests in Co Meath. It will cost at least €100,000 to remove it.

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said: "The most common offences... are the dumping of domestic waste on streets, in laneways and on green spaces in the city.

"Complaints are received from all areas of the city and range from the reporting of small incidents of domestic waste dumping to issues concerning fly tipping."

In 2018, the city council issued 991 fines of which 96 were successfully appealed and 454 were paid. Successful prosecutions were secured in 26 cases before the District Court, with fines ranging from €300 to €1,500, plus costs applied to those found guilty of offences. A further 17 cases were settled out of court.

"Actions taken by the city council to prevent, deter and carry out enforcement in relation to illegal dumping include the use of CCTV, door-to-door compliance inspections, litter patrols, investigations of complaints received and investigations of dumped waste by enforcement staff," the spokeswoman said.

The council has 13 litter wardens carrying out investigations into illegal dumping and littering offences.

A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency said the number of waste enforcements initiated by 31 local authorities rose from 11,900 in 2016 to 13,300 the following year. In the same period, the number of waste prosecutions nationally rose from 370 to more than 630.

Sunday Independent

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