Council Declares Hi-tech War on Litter

Monday, 19th February 2018

Use of Mobile CCTV, Drones and Satellite Technology to Identify Offenders

In response to concerns that litter offences may be on the increase across the County Wexford, Wexford County Council has launched a series of initiatives aimed at identifying and prosecuting those responsible.

Recent meetings of Wexford County Council have seen the Elected Members expressing concern in relation to what they consider to be worrying levels of indiscriminate dumping incidents. Members have welcomed the assignment of additional resources to the collection of dumped materials, but want officials to consider more innovative means of detection and investigation of these occurrences in an effort to reduce the number of incidents reported.

In response, officials in the Council’s Environment Department have recently deployed a range of initiatives which will help identify those responsible for dumping offences and indiscriminate littering. 

Actions already in place include patrolling by plain clothes litter wardens during “dog walking hours” on established routes to address the growing problem of dog litter.  The Council has also engaged private companies to conduct covert CCTV surveillance of litter black spots, while mobile CCTV has also been deployed across the county’s road network to combat the unwelcome and unsightly practice of items of litter being discarded from passing cars.

Recent increases in Government funding has also allowed the Council to use drone, satellite and surveillance technology in a bid to try and stop people from illegally dumping rubbish. Unauthorised bogus waste collectors and ‘man with a van’ operations advertising on the internet or through leaflets are also being targeted.

At national level, plans to double the current on-the-spot litter fine to a hefty €300 is understood to be receiving strong consideration, with the resulting income to be targeted at increasing environmental awareness and creating a significant shift in public attitudes and tolerances towards litter and it’s many forms.

Acting Director of Services Padraig O’Gorman is confident that the Council’s renewed efforts to identify offenders is already paying dividends. 

In 2017, we issued court proceedings against 52 individuals and businesses for litter offences - this is in addition to the 218 on-the-spot which we also issued” said Mr. O’Gorman. “We currently spend almost €2.8 million annually in managing litter in County Wexford  and that does not take into account the appalling damage caused to our tourist economy and our environment. Wexford County Council has a strong track record when it comes to recovery and removal of dumped materials, and while this continues to be an important part of our litter management plan, it will not solve the underlying issue. A more investigative and punitive approach is clearly also required to remind offenders that we are serious about litter prevention, and that if you do litter, you will be prosecuted

Mr O’Gorman also confirmed that Wexford County Council will be participating in the recently announced Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment’s Anti-dumping Initiative for 2018.