High bin charges spark rise in dumping
HOUSEHOLDERS are illegally dumping their rubbish in isolated rural spots because they cannot afford to pay for it to be collected.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said yesterday it had recorded an increase in fly-tipping incidents since the recession took hold, and that dumping was increasing in areas where a pay-by-weight bin collection system was in place.
Customers pay to have their waste collected using two systems. A pay-per-lift system means a charge is levied every time a bin is collected while under the pay-by-weight system bills are calculated on the basis of how much waste is disposed of.
The EPA also said it had received more than 5,500 calls about illegal dumping and fly-tipping since it set up a dedicated phone line in May 2006, with almost 500 in the past four months.
EPA spokesman Jim Moriarty said the countryside was "littered" with illegally dumped waste.
"We've a lot of household waste where two or three bags are being dumped," he said. "It would have gone into bins before but people are now throwing the bags into their car and driving up the Wicklow mountains or other isolated spots.
"You can't be on every corner. The countryside is littered with it. A lot of these cases are subject to on-the-spot fines of €150. Early indications show pay-by- weight areas tend to show increased rates of illegal dumping.
"There are more inspections being done and the capture rate is up. There are 120 waste- enforcement officers across the country, as well as litter inspectors in local authorities."
Major efforts have been made in recent years to crack down on illegal dumping including using helicopters to identify sites and an increase in vehicles being stopped and searched.
Use of covert cameras, CCTV and cameras triggered by vibration are also standard. In 2008, the last year for which figures are available, more than 46,000 waste inspections were carried out, up from 35,000 in 2007.
The same year 8,151 warning notices were sent, and 695 prosecutions taken.
Statistics from the EPA show that of the 5,588 calls made to the illegal dumping hotline, one in four (1,426) were made in Dublin. Wicklow was next with 1,167 followed by Cork (626). The next were Wexford (273), Kildare (272) and Galway (184).
"In Galway, we got a tip that truckloads of waste were being dumped down a lane," Mr Moriarty added. "The operator will be prosecuted in court where they face a fine of up to €3,000 and payment of costs. More serious matters on indictment can result in a fine of €15m and up to 10 years in jail."
The figures also show that half of all calls related to fly-tipping -- where 20 bags of rubbish or less of waste was dumped -- followed by reports of illegal dumping (21pc) where more than 20 bags were dumped. Other offences reported include illegal burning of household waste (10pc), abandoned cars (6pc) and illegal waste collection or transport (6pc).