AFTER: Abatement Measures at Tanderagee, Bailieborough 2020

Over 280 tonnes of rubbish cleared in almost four years

Over 280 tonnes of rubbish, or the equivalent of 43 full-grown African elephants plus the weight of a fully-loaded 40 foot bus, has been cleared by Cavan County Council from 15 of the worst hit litter black-spots in the county since 2017.

That remarkable figure could rise further still with the local authority currently engaged in clearing another popular dumping destination in Cavan Town.

Staff in the Waste Management section have yet to assess amount of rubbish removed from a site at John Paul Avenue, where work began earlier this month.

In recent years, the council has waged a war on fly-tipping and put in place a scheme of works aimed at cleaning up dumping hotspots. It involves both the removal and disposal of a range of illegally discarded materials, and installing measures aimed at catching those responsible in the future.

In 2017 alone, Cavan Council removed almost 14 tonnes of dumped rubbish from St Aiden’s Terrace in Cavan, a further 9.18 tonnes from Fartrin and Snugborough, Ballyconnell; 3.9 tonnes from the Ballyhaise and Shantemon areas; 4.18 tonnes from Beagh, Killinkere; 4.76 tonnes from Doobally, Dowra; and an incredible 49.96 from Killeeter, Mullagh.

This work was followed up in 2018 with the removal of 137.64 tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish from Cullaboy, Kilcogy; 6.72 from Townparks, Cavan; and 5.72 from Fartan Upper, Castletara.

Last year, 2019, the local authority oversaw the removal of 19.74 tonnes of rubbish from Ardkeen, Cavan Town; 3.28 tonnes from Butlersbridge; and 18.56 tonnes from Tycusker, Arvagh.

To date in 2020, without figures yet available for the John Paul Avenue rubbish removal, the Council has already cleared 24.18 tonnes of rubbish from the Old Dump Road at Tanderagee, Bailieborough.

The Bailieborough clearance earlier this year was highlighted at the October monthly meeting of Cavan County Council as a part of a presentation provided to councillors after Independent Brendan Fay sought to discuss illegal dumping and its cost to the county.

The council currently operates with the legislative support provided by the Litter Pollution Act 1997, Waste Management Act 1996, and the recently adopted County of Cavan (Segregation, Storage and Presentation of Household and Commercial Waste) Bye-laws 2019.

Senior engineer at the Waste Management Section, Colm O’Callaghan, explained of the Tanderagee rubbish clearance that the council required the use of a Himac earthmoving machine to complete the work.

He said that people had continued to use the location as a dumping site long after it had been closed as a municipal facility. Among the property disposed of were caravans, bedding and other household materials and equipment.

Once the job was complete, and the site cleared, the council erected new fencing, as well as notices warning people against dumping in the area.

The site, Mr O’Callaghan said, had posed “significant risk” and nuisance to the health of local residents.

Anti-social behaviour, including the burning of waste at the site, and rodent infestation also posed problems.

To combat such offending from reoccurring, the local authority also installed cameras. There is, at present, CCTV installed at three “known dumping blackspots,” Mr O’Callaghan told the meeting but, despite that, at two of those locations, dumping had become “prevalent again”.

He estimated that over the three-year period, 2017-2019, the council had spent almost €3 million on anti-litter activity.

This includes €578,433 on wages, plant hire and other materials associated with waste removal; €438,476 on public awareness initiatives; and more than half or €1.6 million on street cleaning and associated costs.

Interestingly, the amount spent by the Council launching various public awareness campaigns, the most recent of which targeted dog fouling and gum litter, has more than doubled from 2017 (€85,070) to €197,143.31 in 2019.

Mr O’Callaghan stated that public awareness plays an integral part in the Council’s three-pronged approach to tackling littering between abatement measures, prevention and enforcement.

Almost 92% of all schools in Cavan have registered with the An Taisce Green Schools programme and Cavan County Council, with 75% of those rewarded with at least one Green Flag.

The council supported the installation of drinking water refill stations at Breifne College, Colaiste Dún an Rí, and St Aiden’s Comprehensive, and have rolled-out presentations and workshops across the county also.

The Waste Management Section has, meanwhile, designed a 20-page booklet for householders to raise awareness on the negative impact the improper management household waste is having on the environment, as well as a booklet on Cavan’s network of 30 recycling centres.

A recent bulky waste collection day at the Corranure Civic Amenity Centre on the outskirts of Cavan Town brought in 188 mattresses, 145 three-piece suites, 120 couches, and 169 armchairs.

A follow-up mattress collection date returned 500 mattresses with 177 households utilising the service on the day; while a paint recycling day was just as successful.

“It’s better there than in a ditch,” said Mr O’Callaghan, who informed the meeting that the Council had undertaken investment at local bring sites.

Many now are equipped with signage and CCTV to monitor correct use, while others have seen fencing erected, and concrete plinths installed to raise the bins off the ground.

Remedial works at the Ballyjamesduff Bring Centre earlier this year for instance saw 1.36 tonnes of waste, that had accumulated underneath the receptacles, removed.

Mr O’Callaghan said under a new contract agreed, those emptying the banks are now obligated to lift them and powerwash beneath.

Along with praising the positive impact of a recently published article in The Anglo-Celt on dumping, Mr O’Callaghan further praised the ongoing engagement it has with local community groups such as Belturbet Zero Waste and Tidy Towns groups.

To date, Mr O’Callaghan noted, while Covid has delayed court proceedings, four cases are pending before the courts under the Litter Pollution Act, with 11 more instigated under the Waste Management Act, and two more being “prepared”.

Elected members responding to Cllr Fay’s motion again spoke strongly, with fellow Independent Shane P O’Reilly commending the work done at Mullagh. He said, had it been 100 yards further down the road at Kileeter, it would have been Meath County Council’s problem to deal with.

He further stated that not enough was being done to “name and shame” those involved in dumping, and suggested that the judiciary needed to “come down harder” and not let fly-tippers escape with nothing more than a “slap on the wrist”.

He was supported in his comments by Fianna Fáil’s Patricia Walsh, who stated that dumping in vacant houses and sites was also an issue.

She encouraged anyone who was aware of dumping taking place to report it immediately.

Sinn Féin’s Paddy McDonald was of the same mind, and went further as to criticise the privatisation of an industry, and accused some involved of “profiteering”.

But Mr O’Callaghan, in response, dismissed this notion, again highlighting the success of recent bulky goods recycling days.

There was support, and praise for the council’s ongoing efforts from Craig Lovett (FF), Clifford Kelly (FF), and Trevor Smith (FG).