Thursday 21 March 2019

Blessington amenity is being ruined by littering

Brian Phelan highlighting some of the dumping that is going on around the lake in Blessington
Brian Phelan highlighting some of the dumping that is going on around the lake in Blessington
Bags of waste collected by the Extreme Fitness group

Deborah Coleman

A Blessington man is fed up of watching his local community being blighted by dumping and has decided to roll up his sleeves and take action.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Brian Phelan who runs Extreme Fitness decided to start weekly clean ups around the Blessington Lakes and Greenway so that his running group could enjoy the stunning local beauty spot while out taking exercise.

He has been cleaning it up himself on weekly basis for over a year and now hopes that others will join him.

'The idea came about when I wanted to run the Extreme Families hikes. In order to do these runs, people need to have suitable places to go and we have once such amenity on our doorstep but it is being totally destroyed,' Brian says.

Brian is now rallying fitness fanatics and members of the public to join him for the clean-ups, the most recent of which yielded 25 black bags full of waste.

'I wouldn't ask anyone to come out and do this if I wasn't willing to myself so the other evening I went out with another volunteer and we spent 90 minutes cleaning up all sort. There is everything from materials dumped by tradesmen to household waste,' he says.

According to Brian, better cooperation between all stakeholders, including the ESB which owns the lands around the lakes, would lead to a better maintained area for all to enjoy.

'West Wicklow is totally being forgotten about. There is a lack of support from the ESB and the council and the whole area around the lakes is in a terrible state. The car parks are covered in rubbish and overgrown. We don't meet there to do our clean-ups in case the cars are broken into. The ESB has agreed to remove the rubbish collected but that is not enough,' Brian adds.

He says that there is a 'lack of respect' for the whole area by those who engage in this littering and dumping, and he claims that 'no one is accountable for it'.

'We are losing out on so much in terms of tourism potential and the use of a beautiful amenity for local people. There are so many tourism and business opportunities which could be capitalised on if we worked together.'

Brian also takes issue with the lake area, and says that if people are safety-conscious there is no reason why it can't be used more. I have a young son and I want him to have places to go and to enjoy the outdoors in a safe and responsible way.'

A spokesperson for the ESB has condemned such littering and dumping and says it monitors the area on an ongoing basis.

'The practice of simply dumping waste in such a picturesque area is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Poulaphouca Reservoir has a perimeter of 60km and a significant portion of this perimeter is landlocked with no direct access. ESB monitors the situation on an ongoing basis and works closely with all the various community groups in order to manage the fly tipping problem as best as possible,' said the spokesperson.

ESB also raised concerns about members of the public swimming in and ESB reservoir.

'ESB would also like to remind the general public of the dangers and potential serious consequences associated bathing or swimming in any ESB reservoir. This is due to the risk of uneven ground, deep waters, changing water levels and fast-flowing waters.'

Brian says that he plans to organise a public meeting to see if others living in the area share his views.

Wicklow People