The Argus

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Illegal dumping a problem during lockdown as well as in normal times

The lockdown restrictions which have left many with a lot more free time on their hands has led to some to pursue pleasurable activities which they may have abandoned, such as walking and cycling.

The good weather too has been a help, and increasingly walkers and cyclists are forsaking some of the more popular routes, such as Blackrock, the Navvy Bank, and the Newry Road, for the tranquillity of the countryside.

And why not, for there they are exposed to sounds and beauty of our landscape at this time of year.

Unfortunately they are also exposed to a very distasteful side of modern living, the dumping of domestic refuse in hedgerows and vacant sites.

Walk any country road, and it is guaranteed that you will encounter this ugly blot on our landscape.

Much of this waste is dumped by households who see a roadside hedge as an alternative to paying for a refuse collection service.

Of course the dumping is not confined to the countryside, for we have all seen, on many occasions, householders trying to stuff plastic bags containing kitchen waste into the town's litter bins.

Inevitably when this matter is raised in public we are reminded that the situation was foreseen when local authorities handed over the bin service to the private sector, the argument being that there were the few who would never pay to have their bin collected.

Fortunately it is but the few, for most households, while they moan at the increasing cost, accept that the privately operated service is efficient and makes a contribution towards re-cycling the waste by segregating kitchen, plastic-paper, and garden waste.

The task of dealing with the waste that is dumped indiscriminately in ditches and litter bins falls on the shoulders of the local authority and it is proving to be a heavy burden for them to carry.

Last year alone, Louth County Council sought €250,000 from the Department of the Environment from it's anti-dumping initiative.

They received €145,000 but that went no where near paying for the cost of clearing up rubbish that had been dumped all over rural parts of the county from Kilcurry to Seabank.

Money that should not have to be spent on clearing away other people's rubbish, but on providing recreational facilities for everyone to enjoy.

Naturally we all are quick to register our disgust at this illegal dumping, but ask what we can do to stop it.

Well the answer is, not a lot, for much of the dumping is carried out under the cover of darkness and in lonely locations, and in most cases those guilty of this practice go the great lengths to ensure that the dumped material can't be traced back to them by way of the address on an envelope or a credit card receipt.

There is the problem too that most people are reluctant to report the number of the vehicle they may encounter dumping the rubbish along the roadside.

The reason for this is obvious for traditionally, we Irish, loath informers, because of our history, and it is difficult, even when the common good is violated in this manner, to squeal on someone.

However, the local authority phone number, provides anonymity, and makes a valuable contribution in helping to eradicate this ugly scar on the environment that we all must cherish.

The Argus