Kerry County Council’s John Breen says that Level Five restrictions are no excuses for a rise in illicit dumping.
he Castleisland-Corca Dhuibhne Municipal District Manager blasted those engaging in what he called “despicable” and “dirty” behaviour after the matter was raised by Councillors at last week’s MD meeting.
Independent Councillor Charlie Farrelly said illegal dumping had gone “out of control” in Castleisland, and he highlighted a laneway in the town at which dumping had attracted vermin.
He said this was of particular concern as the laneway is often walked by school-going children, and he said that the number of rats had actually increased since he last raised the issue at Council.
Milltown-based Fianna Fáil Councillor Michael O’Shea said he had recently reported dumping in his own locality, with items including fridges and cookers being discarded on roadsides and in villages.
“We have noticed it in the past while,” Mr Breen acknowledged. “I said it last March and April: there’s no excuse for an increase in dumping just because we’re in a pandemic and lock-down. All our waste infrastructure is working as it ever did. All of the kerbside collections by companies are operating. All civic amenity sites are operating. All of the private sites are working. There has been no change.
“It’s simply and utterly a behavioural issue. It’s wrong, it’s despicable, it’s dirty.”
Mr Breen added that there has been a marked increase in littering of take-away products and even facemasks.
Fine Gael Councillor Bobby O’Connell raised the admonishment recently handed down by the Data Protection Commissioner against Waterford City and County Council over its CCTV use, and he said this would have far-reaching implications for the fight against illegal dumping.
Cllr Farrelly spoke of Illegal dumpers having been recently photographed in the act by private individuals and asked if such evidence is admissible in pressing charges.
Independent Cllr Jackie Healy-Rae said he was fully supportive of using CCTV and drones in the fight against illegal dumping, but he then highlighted the Data Protection Commissioner’s previous issues with Kerry County Council’s CCTV usage.
“The Data Protection Commissioner found that the Council had unlawfully installed and operated CCTV cameras at five locations, that they failed to show that some cameras were not excessive for their intended purposes, and a failure to properly audit who had access to the footage,” he said.
“There are laws we must abide by to harness the benefits of this technology.”
“The issues raised by data protection commissioner right across the country are down to the fact that neither the waste management act nor littler-pollution action make provision for the use of evidence gathered by CCTV cameras to be utilised in prosecutions,” Mr Breen countered. “It is acknowledged by the Data Protection Commissioner that there’s a lacuna in the primary legislation. The Department is aware of this, and they’re trying to get legislation through as quickly as possible.
“That’s not to say there’s a free for all in prosecutions, there isn’t” Mr Breen said in encouraging the public to report illegal dumping. He said the Council will utilise any evidence brought to them by the public, and on the subject of the Castleisland laneway, he said contact has been made with relevant landowner, and if vermin are being attracted to the location, he pledged to bring the issue to the environmental department.