Sunday 20 January 2019

Coillte pick up the tab for waste illegally dumped on their land

Since 2013, Coillte has spent €2 million nationally on cleaning up illegal dumping on their lands

Maria Herlihy

Coillte have been left to pick up the bill for cleaning up waste that was illegally dumped on their lands at Clough in Rockchapel.

Recently couches, a mattress, an old TV and chairs were dumped on their lands. It is understood that officials from Cork County Council have investigated the incident, but as the land is owned by Coillte, the clean-up costs have to be borne by them. Rockchapel resident Jack Roche described illegal dumping as a "total and complete eyesore." 

"Dumping has been happening in Rockchapel for a long time on lands owned by Coillte. But I think that what is being dumped is not from this region, but from outside it," he said. 

When asked to further elaborate, he said that what was being dumped was "more of a commercial nature."

"It seems to me that perhaps a person is employed to take waste away and is being paid for it, but instead they are dumping it illegally. This could have repercussions for the original owners of the waste who are disposing of it in good faith as they are paying for it to be taken away, but it is not. 

"When dumping occurs on land it is the owner's responsibility and in this instance that falls to Coillte as the illegal dumping becomes Coillte's problem. To see anything being dumped is just desperate," he said. 

He said it was his understanding that household waste was also dumped illegally at Toureenfineen in Rockchapel recently. This has since been cleaned up. 

A spokesperson for Coillte told The Corkman: "Coillte will continue to work closely with Cork County Council to address the issue of illegal dumping at Rockchapel  by persons who have no respect or care for the natural environment," he said. 

He declined to state how much the clean-up costs at Rockchapel were, but did say that due to the vast and isolated nature of Coillte's 440,000 hectares of forestry, which comprises of 6,000 individual sites, illegal dumping is a major issue for the company.

Forestry sites close to urban centres are especially prone to dumping, h said, adding that Coillte has spent approximately €2 million on clean-up operations since 2013. 

"Illegal dumping is an environmental hazard and an eyesore, causing serious problems to habitats, species, and human health. It can pollute rivers and drinking water sources, damage biodiversity, and is a threat to both the people who live in an area and recreational users," he said.

He also pointed out that Coillte operates an "open forest policy" and each year receives "12 million visits to its 12 forest parks and 150 recreation sites."

"Coillte is committed to ensuring that visitors enjoy visiting its forest parks and trails without the distressing sight of illegally dumped rubbish. 

"To deter illegal dumping, Coillte has installed signage at illegal dumping hotspots and investigates all reports of dumping... When any evidence is found of those responsible for dumping, it is passed on to litter wardens in local authorities who issue fines and pursue prosecutions."  

He urged people to continue to report illegal dumping to the Cork County  Council litter warden or to contact the confidential Coillte Forest Security Line at 1890 800 455.