Litter Pollution Bill, 1996: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am delighted to introduce more important environmental legislation to the House. The Litter Pollution Bill, 1996, is an important part of the anti-litter initiative Action Against Litter which was activated just over a year ago. The essential purposes of the Bill are to put in place a wide ranging legislative charter for action against litter, to spell out clearly what occupiers of property must do to keep their property free of litter and to set out the powers and duties of local authorities for preventing and controlling litter.

It is important that local authorities have adequate statutory powers to undertake the task of litter prevention and control. Their existing powers were conferred by the Litter Act, 1982. However, weaknesses in this legislation have gradually come to light and it is now opportune to restate litter legislation comprehensively, to sharpen its focus and to broaden the legislative and regulatory instruments available for combating litter. Before outlining the principal features of the Bill, I would like to set out some background factors.

Litter is one of the most persistent environmental problems of our time. It is an urgent and visible problem affecting Ireland's towns, countryside and beaches. Litter is an unfashionable issue, even in environmental terms. Solving the litter problem does not yet command the idealism or the supportive public response which have been so effective in addressing other environmental challenges.

Litter undermines and challenges the credibility of other policies and measures for protecting the environment. It is running down shopping and business areas. It is taking from the amenity of housing estates and open spaces. Litter is damaging efforts to promote tourism, conservation and heritage protection. It is hurting the Irish economy because it compromises our ability to attract and consolidate commercial development. Litter is also hurting our environment.

To quantify the extent of the problem countrywide my Department commissioned a national litter survey to provide an accurate assessment of the incidence of litter. This survey was conducted in October 1995 at various locations throughout the country and was designed to establish a detailed breakdown of the composition of litter and to identify and classify types of littered locations.

The main findings of the survey were that very few of the places inspected were either totally free of litter or grossly littered. However, over 80 per cent of sites surveyed were found to have significant amounts of litter. The incidence of litter was quite prevalent and is particularly likely to be found near fast food outlets, automatic bank telling machines and, unfortunately, secondary schools. This survey has been circulated to all local authorities and will serve to give factual guidance for targeting local initiatives.

Shortly after I took office as Minister for the Environment I indicated that a more urgent and aggressive approach to litter prevention should be promoted. This is why the Action Against Litter initiative has been mobilised to combat litter in a radical and effective way. The initiative is built on four main foundations: improving local authority performance, including more effective enforcement against offenders; reforming, updating and streamlining litter legislation; promoting public awareness and education and developing effective partnerships with commercial and voluntary interests to combat litter. To drive this initiative, a new anti-litter unit was established within the Department of the Environment with a dedicated budget in support of the campaign.

There are a number of key players in the Action Against Litter initiative. The Department of the Environment is responsible for driving and co-ordinating the initiative at central level but the contribution and involvement of local authorities is crucial. The public rightly looks to local authorities to prevent and control litter, provide good street cleaning services and enforce litter laws against offenders. Some local authorities are making an effort but clearly there is considerable scope for improvement. There is much to be done because overall national performance is uneven.

I have already requested local authorities to move litter prevention and control up the scale of their priorities and as a first step to prepare their own litter abatement plans for tackling the problem. The preparatory arrangements for these plans should involve consultation with business and community groups. I am happy that over 40 authorities have completed their litter abatement plans while other authorities are currently in the process of finalising their plans. Local authorities generally agree that their litter control programmes need to be stepped up. I am confident that in the current year and in future years we will see a significant improvement in the prevention and control of litter by local authorities.

It is important that we place a strong emphasis on promoting anti-litter awareness across all sections of the community. To begin the task of overcoming the large deficit in public awareness of the effects of litter my Department mounted a public awareness campaign last year to give the public a wake-up call on the issue of litter. This multi-media campaign is being continued this year and is designed to bring about change in public attitudes and, more importantly, behaviour towards litter.

Education is important too. It is essential that we promote understanding by young people from an early age of the degradation caused by litter. To approach this task in a structured way, educational materials for schools have been specially prepared for my Department by one of the specialist teaching centres. These materials have been circulated to all first and second level schools in the country and I am pleased that responses to a recent questionnaire sent to schools confirm that the issue of litter is now being enthusiastically addressed in our schools. I also expect that the new curriculum for primary schools will embrace environmental issues more comprehensively for the future and I would hope that primary education of young people would develop a greater anti-litter awareness in young people. The cost of funding the public awareness campaign and educational measures is being met from the Department's Vote and a provision of some £400,000 has been made for this purpose in the current year.

Government and local authorities cannot provide a litter free environment on their own. One of the main features, therefore, of Action Against Litter is to develop the involvement of the private sector and voluntary interests in the fight against litter. Environmental initiatives, such as Action Against Litter, give businesses in particular the opportunity to prove themselves as good corporate citizens. The emergence of the Irish Business Against Litter movement demonstrates this point well. Consumers relate better to companies which demonstrate strong environmental credentials and performance.

It is important that we should be able to measure progress under the Action Against Litter initiative. It is intended, therefore, to establish a system of performance measurement that will monitor the state of cleanliness and assess progress by local authorities in achieving the objectives of their programmes under this initiative. The Department intends to develop and activate an external monitoring process which will be brought into place next year.

I would like now to comment on some of the main provisions of the Bill. A more detailed commentary will be found in the explanatory memorandum which has been circulated with the Bill. I remind Senators that the Bill repeals the Litter Act, 1982, but restates and strengthens some of the basic provisions of that earlier legislation.

Section 6 sets out an important requirement on the occupier of property, if it is a public place or visible to any extent from a public place, to keep the property free of litter. In addition, where a property or premises faces onto a public road and is within the confines of a speed limit area, the occupier will be required to keep free of litter any footpath or pavement between their property and the roadway. This requirement applies to all speed limit areas except where the general 60 miles per hour or the 70 miles per hour motorway speed limit apply; it is designed to cover properties in all built up areas. I believe the provision is necessary to tackle the problem of litter and to ensure that responsibility is taken by individuals for maintaining a litter free local environment.

In section 6 also, in addition to the duties of occupiers, a duty is imposed on the owner of a house that is let in flats or bedsits to ensure that the curtilage of the house is kept free of litter. This provision is being included in response to requests from local authorities, particularly Dublin Corporation, which have encountered difficulties with refuse and litter being left to accumulate for days outside houses let in flats.

Section 7 imposes an explicit duty on local authorities to keep public roads free of litter as far as practicable. Roads are a known resting place for litter and it is appropriate to state a clearer obligation on road authorities to maintain good litter management arrangements.

Section 9 contains a new power for local authorities to issue a notice to the occupier of a littered property, which is visible from a public place, to clean it up and take specified measures to prevent a recurrence. It will be open to a local authority to take action and recover the cost involved in the event of an occupier failing to comply with the terms of a notice. I would like to see this provision being actively availed of by local authorities to demonstrate seriousness about tackling heavily littered sites where litter has been allowed to accumulate over long periods.

Sections 10, 11, 12 and 13 relate to the duty of local authorities to draw up litter management plans for their functional areas. Such plans are essential to guide and support a more systematic approach to litter prevention and control. The adoption of these plans is a reserved function of elected councils but the Bill also requires local authorities to consult with local interests on their intended proposals at the preparatory stage.

Section 15 sets out obligations for the operators of mobile food outlets in relation to litter control in the vicinity of their business. This provision has been suggested by a number of local authorities. It will also be open to local authorities to frame additional requirements for mobile outlets by way of special notice.

Section 16 provides local authorities with a new power to take stronger action against the operators of premises whose business activities have a particular tendency to create litter. The types of premises on which additional requirements can be set are set out in subsection (9); this list may be extended by regulations to include other classes of premises. The need to impose additional requirements on these types of premises is a matter to be judged by individual local authorities having regard to, and knowledge of, local circumstances.

The obligation being imposed on an occupier under this section can extend to an area up to 100 metres from the person's premises. By agreement with the local authority, an occupier of property may be relieved of the obligation directly to implement litter control measures by making a financial contribution to the local authority. A notice from the local authority imposing additional obligations must first be served in draft form to allow for comments on it. A confirmed notice may be appealed by the person affected to the District Court.

Sections 17 and 18 are designed to create a more structured litter management regime for events which are likely to be attended by large numbers of the public. Inevitably, litter is created at well attended events, such as major concerts, sporting occasions or, as we saw over the weekend, St. Patrick's Day parades. The Bill authorises local authorities to serve a notice on the organisers or promoters of major events requiring them to take specific measures to prevent or limit litter creation and, ultimately, to provide for its removal.

A notice under section 17 may also require a bond to be lodged with the local authority as security against the taking of required measures. A local authority may also afford organisers or promoters the option of making a financial contribution to the local authority in lieu of taking direct measures. This contribution must be applied by the local authority to litter prevention or removal at the relevant event. In other words, it is not designed to be a funding mechanism for local authorities to make windfall gains.

A local authority may also act to remedy any failure by a person to carry out the requirements of a notice; and it may recover its costs in doing so. Promoters of events will, in future, have to take greater responsibility for litter prevention and control before, during and after events.

A new provision in section 19 will prohibit the placing of advertising material on windscreens of cars and other vehicles. There is no hesitation in proposing this measure because placing advertising leaflets in this manner is well known to be a major cause of litter. In addition, local authorities will be able under section 21 to introduce by-laws at their own discretion to prohibit or regulate the handing out of advertising leaflets in streets.

Section 22 is a new provision imposing a duty on the person in charge of a dog to clean up if it fouls in certain public places, such as on the street or footpath, on a beach or in a park. Apart from environmental considerations there is a health imperative in relation to the provision because of the danger of children contracting the disease of toxocariasis.

Sections 23 to 28 deal with the important issues of enforcement and penalties. The maximum fine for an offence under the Bill is being increased from £800 to £1,500 and there is also a maximum penalty of £100 for each day that there is a continued contravention by a convicted person. The on-the-spot penalty remains unchanged at £25 but may be varied in future by regulations. All the proceeds from fines will now go to local authorities as opposed to the Exchequer which currently enjoys the benefit of such fines. Local authorities will also be able to ask the courts to award costs against a convicted person in respect of the expenses incurred by local authorities in investigating, detecting and prosecuting offences. I am confident that this change will act as an incentive to local authorities to tackle realistically and I hope enthusiastically enforcement more effectively in future.

Enforcement of on-the-spot fines against litter offenders has proven to be problematic in the past for local authorities. It is now proposed that in addition to litter wardens, members of the Garda Síochána will also be empowered to issue on-the-spot fines. It is not intended that gardaí will take over the role of issuing on-the-spot fines. It will be desirable that this remains primarily with local authority litter wardens. I hope to see more litter wardens being appointed by local authorities. However, there are circumstances where gardaí on street patrol could very usefully penalise transgressions of our litter laws. It is important that the power to carry out that action should be vested in them as well as in litter wardens. The fact that the public will know that a member of the Garda Síochána is empowered to issue such on-the-spot fines will act as a further deterrent.

It will also now be possible for litter wardens to call on the assistance of the Garda where they believe they might be obstructed from carrying out the duties imposed on them under this Bill. This will strengthen the standing of litter wardens. I am confident that local authorities will become more involved in active litter enforcement once the new Bill is enacted.

Section 29 of the Bill allows the Minister for the Environment to issue directions and guidelines in relation to carrying out the provisions of the Bill. When the Bill is passed, it is intended to issue comprehensive guidelines to local authorities in relation to the provisions of the Bill and their duties under the Bill.

The introduction of the Litter Pollution Bill is an important milestone in environmental legislation. I look forward to hearing the views of Senators who, from their practical experience, will no doubt have valuable perspectives to bring to bear on this matter.

Litter is a difficult and urgent environmental problem. It has proven to be a persistent, difficult and thorny issue to resolve. The solutions necessary, however, should, in general, be much less complex for litter than for other environmental issues. What we need above all is a more widespread public recognition of littering as a socially unacceptable activity. Action Against Litter will continue to be promoted to increase this awareness and to achieve our common objective of a litter free Ireland.

On behalf of the Fianna Fail Party I welcome the Bill and I compliment the Minister on the initiatives he has shown in this area since taking office. When we dealt with the Waste Disposal Bill, the Minister indicated he proposed to introduce this Bill. In so far as it goes, the Bill is welcome. We support it and will be putting down amendments on Committee Stage. The Bill adds a further statutory provision in the fight against litter pollution and will enable local authorities to plan and implement a new range of incentives and requirements to reduce litter pollution.

In some respects, it is depressing to note the serious litter problem that exists all over the country, in urban areas and in the countryside. In spite of all the work and effort over the years to create a greater awareness of the damaging effect litter has on our image as a nation, the situation seems as bad as ever; in some respects it seems to be getting worse.

Scarcely a visitor to Ireland does not comment on the careless way in which we deal with our litter problems. One has only to travel along the roads to witness volumes of discarded plastic bottles, cans, chip bags and, in some places, even bags full of rubbish which are all a blight on our landscape. The chronic state of villages, towns and cities — especially after weekend events in the vicinity of discotheques, canteens, stores and nightclubs — indicates a growing carelessness, lack of awareness and a general laziness concerning the disposal of refuse. This is especially so for teenagers and other young people.

One would have expected that by now the campaigns to keep Ireland tidy, such as the Tidy Towns competitions and other initiatives taken over the years, would have created a greater interest and concern, especially among the younger generation, of their responsibility to respect the environment but, unfortunately, the situation seems to be deteriorating. Local authority managers and administrators must realise that litter will be with us for the foreseeable future. The battle to rid our streets and roads of the menace of litter must be intensified. This Bill is a further weapon in the fight against litter pollution.

We have passed important legislation to deal with pollution and waste disposal but we still seem to be losing the battle. When the Dumping at Sea Act, 1995, was introduced by the Minister for the Marine, I and other speakers indicated that, unless enforcement measures were introduced, the legislation would not be adequate to deal with the situation. I noticed at the weekend the growing volume of refuse in our most scenic coastal areas, which calls into question the effectiveness of this legislation. We must co-ordinate our approach in dealing with matters such as waste disposal at sea and the effect it has on the shoreline and the environment generally.

Local authorities are also responsible for scenic coastal resorts. I was amazed recently to see the amount of refuse which came ashore from boats or ships along the Atlantic coastline in west Clare. The volume seems to be increasing, not decreasing. The amount of discarded netting, fish boxes and other materials connected with the fishing industry along the coastline is alarming, particularly when it is not long since we passed what I thought was effective legislation to deal with this problem.

Unless resources are provided this legislation will not be effective in dealing with the chronic litter problem which will continue to escalate out of control. I am disappointed the Bill does not indicate the amount of Government finances available to local authorities to deal with this problem. I welcome the Minister's announcement that £400,000 will be provided. I presume that will be provided to local authorities by way of a supplementary grant. We may have an opportunity to discuss section 33 in more detail on Committee Stage.

I am not sure if it is intended to establish a separate fund in local authorities and borough councils to implement this legislation. It would be inadvisable to put whatever grant is given to local authorities into the general county council or municipal authority fund. I will table an amendment on Committee Stage to establish a separate litter fund which would be supported by Government grants and into which fines would be paid directly.

I question the value of £25 fines but I am sure the Minister is satisfied they are adequate to deal with the situation. It should be possible to set up a mechanism whereby fines imposed for breaches of this legislation are paid directly into this fund so that it can be used in the fight against pollution. I draw the Minister's attention to a system which operates under the fisheries legislation. A proportion of the fines imposed for fishing irregularities are paid into the fisheries fund to fight illegal fishing. We need to establish a special litter fund which would be supplemented by State grants and credited with the fines imposed for breaches of the legislation. This would provide an adequate fund for local authorities.

I am worried that this legislation is being introduced at a time when there is severe financial pressure on local authorities to deal with the various problems facing them. Anyone who has contact with local authorities is aware that local authority financing is a critical issue. Attempts to deal with local problems have put a severe strain on local authority finances. If this legislation places a further charge on local authorities, its implementation will be low on its list of priorities. If local authorities have to compete for available resources to fill potholes or repair coastal erosion, finances will be switched around and the desirable objectives of this legislation will not be attained because of a lack of finance. I ask the Minister to clarify if the £400,000 will be paid to county and borough councils by way of a capital allocation or will a special refuse fund be used to fight the litter problem. Finances should be available to help councils undertake this work.

I am also concerned about the time frame for the implementation of the litter management plan, which is the responsibility of the local authority. Sections 10, 11, 12 and 13 deal with the preparation of and amendments to the plan and its implementation. These are fundamental parts of the Bill and we must ensure that a time frame is set to implement it. Section 10 states that the plan will be prepared within six months of the enactment of the Bill. Will section 10 come into operation when this legislation is enacted or will it be left for a period to enable local authorities to prepare a litter management plan?

It appears there are already plans in existence and what is proposed in the Bill is a formalised agenda to deal with them. After a three year period they can be amended or redrafted, depending on the success or otherwise of their operation. Can I have clarification of the time frame envisaged for implementing those sections? I am confused whether section 10 will be implemented on the commencement of the legislation or if it is subject to an order being issued, which might be two or three years in the future.

There are welcome provisions in the Bill to make property owners responsible for the protection of areas they own from litter pollution. Valuable sites which have been set aside for development are often covered with refuse. A site in Dublin, not far from Leinster House, which was recently sold for £6 million had become a virtual dump site over the past three or four years. In the case of sites earmarked for development but which have not been developed and whose ownership might not be clear, it is important that caretakers of property, as well as property owners, would have a degree of responsibility for preventing litter pollution on the property. This would avoid the problem of important and valuable development sites being used as dump sites while a consortium prepares its financial plans and packages to undertake development.

The Minister referred to the litter problem at bank machines. Banks have made huge profits in recent years and some of those profits have been generated by the modernisation of their transaction arrangements. However, in the streets of towns and cities one can see piles of discarded receipts and dockets from cash machines, particularly at night. In this legislation banks should be held responsible for the refuse they are creating. They can surely spare some money from their valuable profits to tackle this problem. Perhaps they are doing so already, but if they are not they should. On the Continent banks would not be allowed to litter the streets around their premises.

The banks have cameras located around such machines and if somebody is misbehaving at them they can quickly pick out the offender. Their video cameras should also show the damage being done to the streets, especially in our capital city. They should have some responsibility in this regard and they should make a financial contribution to deal with it. This is why I favour a fund. Banking institutions which create litter problems could contribute to a litter fund to tackle litter pollution. It is preferable that it be handled by the litter fund rather than involving it in local authority finances, which is a separate area.

I am particularly conscious of the disposal of refuse from cars travelling on motorways. While the Bill refers to roads legislation, I am not sure if such legislation deals with motorways. If one is driving on a by-pass after 11 p.m. one is liable to get a chicken bone thrown on one's windscreen or car bonnet as a result of chicken bags being discarded by passengers in other cars. It is a disgrace. Senator Howard referred to this problem during a previous debate on litter. He pointed out that he lives the same distance from Ennis as it takes one to consume a bag of chips. He has the inconvenience of having chip bags, beverage cans and other food containers being discarded outside his premises by people travelling from Ennis who have consumed the goods they bought in takeaways there.

This problem must be dealt with, but I doubt the provisions in this legislation can do anything about such events which occur late at night. A new system for traffic control is due to come into operation. If one exceeds the speed limit on the dual carriageway to Shannon one can be automatically photographed by a new mechanism in operation there. There should be the same system to deal with people who dump takeaway foods and cans out of their car windows when travelling at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. There should be a clear provision in the legislation to deal with that issue.

This is important legislation. Litter pollution has been a source of frustration for people involved in tidy towns committees and local authorities. There have been important developments in national schools which have been inventive in creating an awareness of the problem in primary school children through essay competitions and so forth. Unfortunately, there is not the same level of awareness in secondary schools and colleges. The survey to which the Minister referred indicated that the problem is quite bad in secondary schools. We have not got the message across to people who litter streets at night that litter pollution is a critical problem that requires their co-operation. This Bill will go some way towards achieving that aim. However, it can only be effective if the necessary financial resources are provided by the Minister to local authorities to fulfil their duties in this area. I hope to discuss that aspect further on Committee Stage. I welcome the Bill.

This Bill will give local authorities statutory powers to undertake the task of litter prevention and control. Prior to 1982, local authorities had little statutory power to control the litter problem. The Litter Act, 1982, gave local authorities certain powers and progress was made. A number of offenders were brought before the courts. However, there were shortcomings in that Act. This more comprehensive legislation broadens the legislative and regulatory framework available to combat litter.

Unfortunately, citizens are not very conscious of the damage litter can cause to our environment. It is only when one reads the complaints received by Bord Fáilte that the message gets through. Visitors to our cities and countryside do not usually complain about the cost of food, entertainment or accommodation. Usually they are complimentary about these issues. However, the problem of litter disturbs them, particularly litter in areas of scenic beauty. We have many such areas but it only takes a small amount of litter to destroy the enjoyment one gains from them.

I welcome section 6 of the Bill which requires the owners of property to keep their property free of litter. It is not unusual to see owners of shop premises sweep litter from their shops onto the footpath and leave it there. The opposite happens on the Continent where owners of shops sweep the litter onto the footpath and then collect it. They also have a good habit of washing the footpath outside their premises. When did Members last see an Irish shopowner wash the footpath outside their premises?

Section 6 deals with another problem with which I am often confronted in my constituency, Dublin South East, where many houses are set in multiple dwellings. If domestic refuse is to be collected by the local authority on a Monday morning it is left out for collection on the previous Friday evening and over the weekend, the entire area is littered by this rubbish. I welcome the fact that this section will place a responsibility on landlords to keep the areas surrounding their premises free of litter. There should be an obligation on landlords whose property is set in multiple dwellings to provide proper litter receptacles for tenants which should be kept out of public view. Sometimes such receptacles are placed in the front gardens of houses and are very unsightly.

I am pleased section 9 contains the same principle included in the Derelict Sites Act that enables local authorities to serve notice on the occupier of a property, covered with litter and visible from a public place, to have it cleaned up. If he or she fails to do so, the local authority can carry out the necessary work and take action to recover the costs. This is one of the best forms of enforcement in respect of litter.

Sections 15, 17 and 18 are interrelated. I believe this because, in my experience, the major sporting authorities, the GAA, FAI and IRFU — the headquarters of which is situated in my constituency — have a good record in subscribing to the cost of cleaning up litter after major sporting events. However, the real problem in respect of litter is caused by the large number of the public concerts held in Dublin. I have experienced this problem in my own area near the RDS. The roads around Ballsbridge can be covered with litter on the day following a concert. Such litter is not usually generated by people attending concerts, it originates from the large number of mobile food outlets parked on Anglesea Road and Simmonscourt Road to provide facilities for the young people attending concerts. The same problem also applies to Funderland at Christmas. With the passing of this Bill, I hope litter wardens will be able to note the names of the mobile food operators involved and, if the area is not cleaned the next day, local authorities will be able to clean up the area and levy the cost on them.

I welcome section 17 which proposes that local authorities may serve notice on the organisers or promoters of major events, such as concerts, requiring them to take measures to prevent or limit the creation of litter and have it removed when the concert ends. A more important aspect of this section is that such promoters may be required to lodge a cash deposit with local authorities. Therefore, if they fail to take the necessary measures to remove litter, local authorities will have the necessary funds to carry out the work themselves. I also note that the Bill prohibits the placing of advertising material on car windscreens. These leaflets often blow away and add to the litter in an area or owners, when they return to their vehicles, often remove such advertising literature and throw it away which causes further litter. I hope politicians will bear this in mind during the election campaign and will refrain from placing literature on car windscreens.

A new form of litter that has crept into our society in recent years is caused by bank cash dispensing machines. The receipts issued by such machines should be outlawed because they are a new form of litter. If a client wants to check the balance of his or her account, they should be instructed to do so by pressing a button on the machine. If they require a written balance, they should be obliged to call personally to a bank. This would stop people obtaining receipts from cash dispensing machines and throwing them away after a brief perusal.

I also wish to refer to the issue of litter from cars. Dublin Corporation enjoyed some success in trying to deal with this problem a number of years ago. It encouraged petrol companies to sponsor litter bags for cars. Car owners were asked to carry such bags in their vehicles and deposit their litter therein for disposal at a suitable time. This project was successful. We should encourage petrol companies in this regard to enable us to overcome this problem.

Section 22 provides that a person in charge of a dog will be required to clean up if their pet fouls a public place such as a street, footpath or beach. The fouling of footpaths has caused annoyance to many of citizens and I am glad this measure is included in the Bill. However, I do not know how effective it will be.

Before dealing with the on-the-spot fines measure in the Bill, I want to highlight the problems faced by Dublin Corporation in removing litter from the streets of the capital. Last year it cost the cleansing department of Dublin Corporation £8 million to remove litter. This was not domestic refuse, it was litter thrown on to our streets. The figure of £8 million represents an increase of £1.2 million from the previous year. The 1997 estimate for street cleaning for Dublin is £8.7 million, which amounts to more than £18 per annum for each person in the city. The cleansing division removes approximately 15 tonnes of litter from the streets each year which represents approximately 30 kilograms per person.

Severe littering occurs at any major event in the city. I was amazed on Monday last, following the St. Patrick's Day parade, when I saw the amount of litter in O'Connell Street. It was as if everyone attending the parade had taken a small bag of litter with them and dumped the contents on the street when the parade had finished. I understand that the litter collected by Dublin Corporation after the parade amounted to between a half tonne and one tonne. Dublin Corporation is not given funding to do this. People came from many areas of the country to watch the parade but the corporation must pick up the tab.

Members may be interested to know that it takes 50,000 aluminium drinking cans to make up one tonne of litter. Some restriction should be placed on supermarkets regarding the number of plastic bags they give to customers. It is evident that shoppers take more plastic bags than necessary and later place litter in them for collection by local authorities.

I am glad that, under the Bill, maximum fines are being increased to realistic levels. Local authorities will receive the benefit of such fines and the costs incurred in bringing prosecutions which may be awarded in court. The power of issuing on-the-spot fines for litter offences is being extended to the Garda Síochána. The Bill makes it an offence to obstruct a litter warden, if one can be found, or refuse to give a proper name and address. If we are to overcome the litter problem from which our cities suffer, it will be necessary to increase the number of litter wardens.

The Bill also provides that local authorities should draw up litter management plans for their functional areas. Such plans are intended to provide a systematic approach to litter prevention and control. These programmes should include litter free zones. There are nuclear free zones, smoke free zones and parking free zones. Why not litter free zones? Such a zone was put in place in the centre of Dublin a number of years ago but it was not a great success because the corporation did not have the powers this Bill will give local authorities to enforce the law. If the Bill had been enacted at that time, the litter free zone would have succeeded. There are advantages to litter free zones because they can be initiated in small areas and extended to cover an entire city.

While local authorities, the gardaí and litter wardens can play their part, the main contributor to a litter free city is its citizens. They should take pride in their city and keep it as clean as possible. Special attention should be given to young people in the prevention of litter. For that reason I very much welcome the Minister's intention to allocate £400,000 to a public awareness campaign and the education of young people. Many worthwhile measures are provided in the Bill to deal with the problem of litter.

I welcome the Bill. It is about time we did something about litter, particularly in Dublin, although I am sure it is a countrywide matter. The Minister said litter is an unfashionable issue, even in environmental terms. However, it is extremely fashionable with me. Many other people are profoundly ashamed of the condition of the city. We are a dirty, filthy people; we are worse than any other country I know and certainly any capital city I know. That says something about the psychology of the citizens of Dublin. For that reason, I warmly applaud the Minister for allocating £400,000 to institute programmes in schools because we have got to tackle this problem at ground level where young people absorb values.

It is tragic that many fellow citizens of Dublin so disregard their own city and exhibit a contempt for it rather than take pride in it. I imagine this may have social and historical roots and is not unrelated to the fact Dublin was almost seen as not part of Ireland in the same way that Georgian buildings were despised and regarded as a colonial excrescence. Dubliners have yet to fully reclaim the city for themselves, to feel this is their property, but by damaging trees and throwing rubbish on the streets they are not doing anything clever or insurrectionary. They are cutting off their noses to spite their faces and damaging the environment. We have to persuade people, particularly our youth, that they should make an emotional and cultural investment in the city.

Unfortunately, very often they do not get this message from their parents. On many occasions I have intervened in the inner city and, indeed, in the suburbs. One has to be sensitive because one does not wish to humiliate parents in front of their children. Many times I have seen people coming out of shops, the mother will unwrap an ice lolly, hand it to the child and then throw the paper of the street. My policy has been to pick it up and say politely "I think you dropped this, madam" to which the woman usually replies "that is all right sonny, I was only throwing it away anyway". Children will pick this up from their parents very quickly.

My knowledge of the life of James Joyce tells me that he and his family were not immune from this behaviour. When Joyce and Nora Barnacle went to Zurich first she was nearly arrested for throwing paper on the street. She could not believe this was regarded as a serious matter. Traditionally, our psychology does not take litter seriously. I saw an individual in a Wexford registered car at a traffic light in Pearse Street. He blew his nose in a paper handkerchief and flung it on the street. I just picked it up and flung it right back in on top of his lap and said he better keep it because it was possibly infectious material. We are dirty and a programme in schools would be very much welcome. There should be zero tolerance of litter.

Individuals are not the only ones to blame. We must try and make them proud of the city and make them feel it belongs to them. Firms also contribute to the problem and I am not averse to naming a few of them. McDonalds is a classic example. Why is nothing done about McDonalds, Burger King and the other fast food outlets on O'Connell Street? I pay tribute to Dublin Corporation for its heroic efforts to keep that street clean but within ten or 15 minutes of a good job being done to clean it up the street is full of half eaten chips, styrofoam boxes, paper napkins, etc. These businesses should not be able to profiteer and create dirt and litter as they do without bearing some responsibility. They should have to pay for part of the ongoing cleaning because of the dirt and nuisance they create, especially around the Anna Livia statue.

It should never have been there in the first place.

Perhaps it should not.

The serious problem of chewing gum should be addressed. The Minister did not refer to it in his speech nor is it referred to in the Bill. I always try to give up cigarettes with the result I am now addicted to nicotine and chewing gum simultaneously. However, I do not drop chewing gum on the street. For a while, I wondered what the black marks were on the pavement. They are chewing gum marks. I was in Singapore a number of years ago and I thought the authorities were mad to outlaw chewing gum. I doubt if it is possible with our liberal democratic tradition but now I see the point. People should be educated against sticking it underneath tables, putting it on the pavement, etc. I am not sure much can be done in legislative terms but I would welcome it if something were to be done. As public representatives we need to give a lead.

I flew over Dublin Bay earlier and saw the Sir John Basil Getty doing its duty with a nice crescent shaped quarter mile smear coming from the back of it as it dumped, as it does every two days, 250,000 tonnes of solid excrement into the bay. I mentioned this to the Minister and he indicated this was coming to an end within the next two years; the sooner, the better. It is absurd that this is done when we have a sewage works next door to a major electricity generating station. Why do they not reclaim the solids, burn them off, generate electricity and various other useful by-products instead of destroying the bathing quality of the water? This is not directly litter but it is related.

On the question of street cleaning, I strongly commend and praised Dublin Corporation workers who do this manually. They do by far the best job, especially in residential streets. Where I live, a few men still go around with their barrows, brushes and shovels and pick up most of the rubbish. There is a problem with a sophisticated mechanised system. For example, on a Sunday morning motorised machines which wake up residents are sent around at ungodly hours to clean the streets. As people reside again in inner city areas, cars belonging to them are parked and the machines cannot get near the kerb. In North Great George's Street we try to encourage people to park parallel to the kerb but at least a foot to 18 inches from it so that the street cleaner can get in. I appeal to Dublin Corporation through the Minister not to totally abandon the human element of street cleaning because the workers do an extremely good job. I am all in favour of any sophisticated advances and more money should be spent. A considerable amount of money must be allocated if we are serious about dealing with this problem.

Although we are dirtier than other people, rubbish and litter are created in other capital cities. Paris, for example, has a superb mechanical cleansing system, although some aspects of it would be too expensive for us to implement as the infrastructure has been in place in Paris for many years. They have little geysers which send out jets of water that flood the gullies and carry the rubbish away. Unfortunately, we have neither the money nor the imagination to put in such a system. They also have motorcycles with types of hoovers which pick up dog dirt, an issue to which the Minister referred. Dog dirt is unsightly, unpleasant, particularly if one gets it on one's shoes, and is dangerous because it may cause toxoplasmosis which affects the eyes and then the brain. In certain circumstances, it may cause death and may be caused by cats as well as dogs. A remarkably good job is done with this machine in Paris.

If we are serious about this problem, we should look at other cities and send a small number of representatives from the corporation, councillors or officials — perhaps we should send councillors because they love the odd trip — to carry out a comparative study. How come Amsterdam, Zurich, Stockholm and Paris are so clean? We may be able to learn things of a technical nature from these cities and implement our findings. By doing this on our own and by trying to be innovative, we are neglecting the examples of other cities, which is unwise.

These cities do not have as many children eating lollipops.

Perhaps they do not, but I expect they have some of our problems. I support Senator Doyle going on the junket as long as he produces a nice report for us.

The collection of rubbish is not only a problem in the inner city. Some of my neighbours are extremely poor but they are intensely clean and civic minded. However, I have seen people from Foxrock, Ballybrack, Sandyford and elsewhere emptying their car ashtrays on the street. I would love to see these people fined £250 or whatever for doing this. People driving big cars leave black plastic bags, which are not securely tied, on my street. Immediately, cats and dogs rip these bags open.

A gentleman across the street from me is a plastic surgeon in the Blackrock Clinic. When he is not lifting faces, he is running a tenement across the road from my house. The people in his apartments leave out supermarket bags containing rubbish two or three days before collection day. Inevitably, by the time collection day arrives, the rubbish is all over the street. He is a professional man who earns his living from beautifying the appearance of human beings but he does not give a damn about the state of the street outside his tenement. We must also educate some members of the so-called professional classes.

The question of how we dispose of rubbish is important. Although some people put out bins others use plastic bags, which is not adequate. It would be good if Dublin Corporation and other local authorities examined the possibility of using wheelie bins. These are used in Jerusalem and are excellent. However, a problem would arise in terraced houses because it would be difficult for elderly people to manipulate them up and down steps and there would be no place to leave them outside. Surely it is possible for local authorities to manufacture or establish a franchise for environmentally friendly rubbish disposal containers made from strong paper or a biodegradable material? Our scientific agencies, which are paid by the State, should look into this issue and produce something which is environmentally friendly and which could become a standard unit for disposal. Such units should be available at cost from the local authority, which should refuse to collect anything that is not appropriately packaged in one of these items. That would deal with part of the problem of waste and dirt.

A problem in the city, and probably in the suburbs and elsewhere, is the widespread use of skips. I have used skips but somebody should give those who run these container companies a damn good rap on the knuckles. If one orders a skip, one is lucky if it arrives on the right day but one does not have a hope in hell of getting it taken away. These companies leave skips for as long as they like and people come and throw more rubbish into them. I do not know from where these people come. People seem to drive around Dublin in cars full of rubbish looking for skips which become overburdened with rubbish that ends up all over the street. Not only those who acquire skips but also the companies involved should be subject to penalties. I presume we will be empowered to do something under this legislation.

I was pleased to see section 15 which relates to mobile food outlets. I greatly enjoyed a film based on Roddy Doyle's book, The Van. I laughed like a drain and I am ashamed to say that it was so enchanting I even laughed when, after quite nonchalantly collecting a wad of notes, the person in the van kicked chips which were all over the floor onto the pavement of the carpark opposite the pub. While it was unpleasant, it was highly entertaining. Regrettably, it was classically observed Irish realism because this is exactly how we behave. Everybody in the cinema laughed. It was funny but it was also very sad.

I am delighted the pernicious practice of shoving unsolicited material underneath windscreen wipers will be banned. Everyone from pro-life groups to prostitutes have placed advertisements under my windscreen wipers, which I deeply deprecate. These people hire young people to shove this material in people's letterboxes. Some nights when I get home I find 30 or 40 advertisements for a unisex hairdresser. I have very little hair and I hardly need 30 advertisements. These children receive instructions to get rid of advertisements and often they do not even put them into letterboxes but throw them on the street.

I would like to offer a £10 prize to anybody who has seen a litter warden; Senator Doyle will probably try to collect on this. I have never seen a litter warden. They are probably hiding because they are afraid to approach anybody — I know the attitude of Dubliners. If they tried to fine a person £50 on the spot for dropping a cigarette packet, they would certainly need the attention of my friend across the street who works in the Blackrock Clinic. I welcome the fact the Garda Síochána has been empowered to carry out this duty.

The question of plastic bags is important and was raised by several speakers. The main problem with plastic bags is that they are not biodegradable. Anyone who walks along the lovely expanse of the North Bull Island will see how they distort the sand and they will continue to do so for generations. If one travels by train, one sees them along the hedgerows and hanging out of trees. It seems they cannot be got rid of. They are a scandal and something must be done about them.

I notice the Bill requires people to care for their properties where they abut onto the street, except where there is a speed limit greater than 60 miles an hour. I am sure there is a good reason for this but I have no idea what it is unless it is that the speed of traffic blows litter to such an extent it is unfair to expect householders to keep their properties clean. I cannot imagine any other reason for it. I agree with this requirement. I sweep the step outside my house regularly and often also have to sweep the footpath. However, if property owners are to be made keep their properties tidy, the encouragement and active support of Government and local authorities is needed and this is provided in the Bill.

I hope some of my suggestions are considered because they might bear fruit. We want to live in a cleaner and better environment. I congratulate the Minister and his advisers on producing excellent legislation.

Ireland, as an island nation on the periphery of Europe, is regarded by our European neighbours as the garden country of western Europe. That being so and with restrictions being imposed on agriculture, be it through milk production or cereal growing, we should capitalise on our natural resource and make as much money as possible through the tourism industry but that cannot be achieved until litter and other kinds of pollution are controlled and eliminated. Many woodlands, parks and river banks are strewn with plastic containers and papers.

I recently went to a festival in Brittany which I visit every second year. While standing off the pavement, a colleague of mine asked me to look at it. Not even a matchstick was to be seen, although upwards of 20,000 people were viewing the parade. When I went to festivals here, broken bottles and glasses were thrown everywhere; today, it is beer cans. It is a disgrace. However, we cannot always blame the youth for this.

There is an individual in my town who, in the early hours of the morning, dashes 15 yards to the river bank with his ashes. I have warned him that, sooner or later, I will photograph him and put it in the paper. With the strength of this Bill supporting me, I might possibly do that. When we had heavy rain which resulted in flooding, I saw some of the few cowboy farmers left avail of the flood to dispose of slurry. They turned on the tap and let it run down the dyke into the river. They think it will not poison fish and that there is no danger of it being a pollutant but when silage effluent reaches a river, every living creature in it died. It takes 2,000 gallons of water to dilute one pint of this effluent. In my area, it will eventually find its way to the Blackwater Valley which is regarded as one of the finest salmon fishing rivers in the south.

However, I compliment farmers who have recently introduced new technology which wraps silage, thus eliminating spillage. I also compliment them because they have now started to recycle the plastic and have produced paving posts, grids, etc.

I am conscious of pollution in rivers because I come from a town which has two rivers meeting at its centre. They are joined in turn by a little stream and link up with the Blackwater. These rivers have been abused in the past when traders in the 1950s dumped decaying fruit and vegetables on the river bank to be taken by the flood to Youghal and beyond. This practice has now been eliminated. I compliment the community council and tidy towns committees because they are the heroes when it comes to wrestling with refuse dumping and littering. They work very hard as voluntary groups and are proud when they attain extra marks or awards for their efforts. They must take consolation and encouragement that the Minister has provided £400,000 to combat litter pollution.

The habits of those over 50 will not be changed. I am delighted schoolchildren will be educated about the environment. I would like films to be shown in schools, cinemas and on television portraying an unsightly drain and its transformation into a lovely park or whatever. This would be very encouraging because seeing it with the naked eye is more beneficial than describing it. I ask for this to be taken into account.

I come now to the issue of litter wardens. I come from a small town and it would not be safe to mention a traffic warden there. There are two hour parking areas in the town and gardaí feel it is not their function to enforce these regulations. If it is not their responsibility, it must be the traffic warden's. Traders feel that, if parking tickets are placed on cars, the people who suffer will not return. This is a very serious matter in small towns. If a traffic warden is needed, his or her services must be shared with another town. The possibility of getting a litter warden is, therefore, very remote. I appreciate that the assistance of the Garda is desirable but I have never read in the paper of someone being fined £25 for littering. If the Garda is to implement these laws, and it is not doing so, are litter wardens needed?

Some of the biggest littering criminals are the takeaways. They cater for the after disco scene between 2.30 a.m. and 4 a.m. when other citizens are trying to get a night's sleep to prepare for the following morning's work. People come from these discos, under the influence of beer, are noisy, abusive, race cars, blow car horns and have been known to kick doors. There was a fracas after a disco in Kinsale, where plate glass windows were smashed and in other towns beer kegs were thrown through bank windows. It is bad enough that there is a litter problem but there should be a restriction on noise until 1 a.m. to allow decent citizens to sleep.

A councillor from a neighbouring county suggested that the containers for chips should be edible. This would eliminate much of the litter problem and I hope it is done.

He is a Kerry councillor.

An additive should be used in the manufacture of plastic bags so that if they are discarded they will disintegrate. That would solve many problems.

I compliment the Minister for the Environment for introducing estate management. In the past, councils could rightly be accused of building estates with roads running through them, often putting in no lights and certainly not landscaping them. They have now decided to provide trees in consultation with the occupants of the houses, in the hope they will care for them.

I recently saw raw sewage being transported from a sewage plant and distributed on agricultural land. There was no odour. I was alarmed when I heard of the practice of tankers of sewage loaded onto vehicles which travel through fields.

Too often the spraying of slurry is carried out within the parameters of hospital boundaries. The odour is appalling. The spraying of slurry should not be carried out in built-up areas where there is no water supply. It can pollute the wells which supply houses.

I was happy to read in this morning's newspapers that a consortium comprising an American company and the ESB has come together and been awarded the contract to build a 30 milowatt waste and energy plant near Dublin. This will reduce the oil bill by £25 million. The American company has a 75 per cent stake in the consortium and the ESB has a 25 per cent stake. It will use approximately 490,000 tons of non-hazardous municipal solid waste per annum and, in doing so, it will provide electricity for 200,000 customers. This is a wonderful development and it lengthens the life of waste tips around Dublin.

The Joint Committee on Sustainable Development recently visited County Cork. In Mallow we were shown the county council waste tip which is a flagship for the rest of the country. It will have a lifespan of 30 years.

I compliment the Minister on introducing this Bill and I fully support it. Over the next few years the Minister for Tourism and Trade will hopefully be able to adopt the poem from which the following verse is taken:

O come with me to Tír na nÓg

Where fruits and blossoms bend each tree

Where sparkling wine and honey flow

And beauty smiles from tree to tree.

There is no way I am going to move back to west Cork now. Will the Minister comment on the veracity of the story concerning a waste disposal incinerator in County Dublin? We are getting conflicting reports. It was suggested that the company getting the contract for the incinerator was more than surprised and that Minister of State Deputy Stagg, had "jumped the gun" to quote the company. Over the past few weeks we have heard reports that a company allied to this American company has said that the system operating in America could not operate in Ireland because there is no separation of waste. If we are serious about the elimination of landfill sites around Dublin and moving instead to high-tech disposal it is important that the Minister clarifies whether a contract has been signed or if it is in the process of being signed. The company in America deals with separated waste. It would be a marvellous change from landfill sites if we could have this type of incinerator and produce energy from it. However, the American company seems to be saying this is not possible unless we start separating waste. I ask the Minister to make a statement on this matter. It is of major consequence in ecological and financial terms. If the Minister jumped the gun he should say so.

I welcome this Bill and the realisation by the Government that litter is a major problem that must be dealt with. Those of us who have served on local authorities know the problem of trying to keep the cost of litter collection and disposal under control. The cost has been extraordinary. It is becoming more financially straining on local authorities because of the Environmental Protection Agency provisions.

Kilkenny County Council was the first to have a contained, lined dump where the gases and water had to be taken away. The cost of the facility is enormous. It is only now that other local authorities and communities are beginning to realise how much it costs to provide landfill sites. Unless litter is separated, a landfill site is a potential hazard. We talk about Sellafield and the problems of containing nuclear waste but material which is not separated is put into landfill sites. Everything goes into them and we do not know what will come out in 1,000,100 or, indeed, 50 years time.

Senator Cashin suggested that a self destruct mechanism should be built into plastics and I do not think it should be beyond the bounds of technical possibility to do this. I go into a particular shop to buy newspapers every day and I am annoyed if the checkout assistant offers me a plastic bag to put them in. It is bad enough to have to dispose of the newspapers without having to dispose of the bags as well. It is a cost to the supermarket and is a nonsense in ecological terms to put newspapers in plastic bags. There must be an educational process to seek to eliminate the use of plastic bags.

Three years ago, members and staff of Kilkenny County Council were offered compost bins at a nominal price in order to see how much household rubbish could be put into the bin and be recycled into garden manure. I was one of the people who availed of the option. We have never placed any household material into the rubbish dump since; bones, food waste and so on goes into the compost bin. I burn quite an amount of newspapers and put the ashes on the compost heap also. In ecological terms, there may be people who would disagree with me. Perhaps it is detrimental to the atmosphere to burn newspapers but I do not think so. I would prefer something to be burned and reused in my garden rather than send it in bulk in plastic bags to the city dump. There are times when there would be six to ten people in our house but we would not even have half a bag of rubbish for the dump in any one week. If people seriously considered composting, we could prevent many of the problems faced by local authorities with regard to the elimination of rubbish.

The situation in Ireland is changing. I do not agree that people over 50 years of age cannot be educated about the elimination of rubbish in the same way as young people. Over the years if a local authority put up a "No Dumping Allowed" sign, it gave an indication that there was some kind of quarry or other place into which things could be dumped. The level of dumping at a particular location increased in line with the level of signs prohibiting littering. If there was a sign saying that people would be fined £500 for illegal dumping, people would look at the sign and still dump rubbish if they thought they could get away with it. Senator Cashin said that he has not heard of a £25 fine ever being imposed for illegal littering and I have not heard of anybody being fined £500.

The Minister is trying, as are local authorities, to appoint litter wardens to address this problem. In Kilkenny, the local authority advertised for one litter warden for the city and county. We cannot afford to pay any more than one warden. The Minister might say that the local authority would be able to pay for more than one position if it eliminated some other services. However, like every other local authority, Kilkenny County Council are under financial strain. We do the best we can with limited resources. Kilkenny would not have won the Tidy Towns Competition in the category of towns and cities with a population greater than 10,000 if we were not aware of the need to eliminate litter. A litter warden will not have an enforcement role; he or she will only be able to fulfil an educational role speaking to tidy towns committees and various other organisations.

The public can be awkward sometimes with regard to the issue of litter. I was in Tramore recently and I saw two elderly people dropping ice cream wrappers on the street. As I passed, I asked them to pick up the litter and the two elderly ladies told me in no uncertain terms to mind my own business. That is a common attitude. People will not react; they are not prepared to pick up their rubbish and place it in a receptacle.

Kilkenny is a city and county which is very aware of the need to eliminate litter. However, all of the new litter bins which are installed are quickly filled by people who decide to use litter receptacles as rubbish receptacles and we have terrible problems in this regard.

The suppliers of "10.10.20" and other fertilisers should be forced not to use plastic packaging as plastic bags are the biggest visible pollutant. It would be cheaper for them to use recycled paper or some other form of packaging. I do not understand why farmers cannot simply dig a hole in the ground and burn their waste.

Do not encourage that.

It should be encouraged. It has been proved that the hole in the atmosphere is not as big as we have been led to believe. Burning a few plastic bags will not make any difference. However, if we put plastic bags into a landfill site they will remain there for thousands of years.

The Fianna Fáil suggestion that a tax should be levied on plastic bags to discourage their use is one that should be looked at. The number of plastic bags that people take out of supermarkets is totally unnecessary; 90 per cent of the foodstuff is already packaged and "plasticised". There are many schemes under which containers are provided for recyclable materials and the Minister should encourage them.

A huge amount of EU grants are given to upgrade factories, many of which generate large profits. The same grants are not available to those who want to get involved in recycling on a small scale. If we are to provide a litter free society, we must provide the means to small entrepreneurs and co-operatives to get involved in the recycling business. We should support them to the same extent as the beef and financial services industries. If we do not eliminate rubbish, our ecological base will be diminished and tourists will not come to Ireland. I ask the Minister to speak to the Minister for Finance about grants and incentives which could be offered to those who recycle litter and waste.

There has been a proliferation of posters all over the country. Under legislation, election material must be taken down immediately after the election, which is correct. Posters never got anyone elected. Advertisements for dance bands and discos are often a cause of litter. The legislation should be enforced. I was nearly shot for taking a case against someone who put up posters all over Kilkenny. The man in question was fined but he suggested that when his party came to power, my house would be the first to be burned. Signs were painted outside my house. Luckily, two councillors on the corporation took a similar action in the following weeks. This did not eliminate the problem, but at least people saw we were ready to take on our supposed role.

I agree with Senator Cashin that litter bins outside takeaways create litter. People decide on impulse to buy a bag of chips or a burger. Having tasted the first bit, they realise they do not want it and dump it, creating a huge problem. There are certain chains of takeaways and local takeaways who do an excellent job cleaning up outside their premises when they close and this should be done by everyone. In the morning, outside any business premises in Kilkenny, it is nice to see people hosing down their shops fronts and sweeping up. People who dump without thinking are ignorant. Those who go to sporting events such as hurling, football, soccer and rugby games or events such as "Lark in the Park" display a total lack of regard for others by throwing litter as the streets are not clean for months afterwards.

We all back the Minister's efforts to eliminate litter. Education and the proper employment of litter wardens are of paramount importance. If there is to be proper management of litter, local authorities will have to be given funding to do it. Funding for local authorities is the vital element in the equation. If there is funding for various elements in industry, we should equally give funding to local authorities to ensure proper waste and litter management. The local authorities will respond. There is a competing demand at local authority level but if local authorities do not receive an increased input from the State and if the money cannot be raised locally, there will be problems.

The public should realise we cannot say our environment is clean unless the litter problem is addressed in a more caring manner than it has been in the past.

I welcome the Bill and congratulate the Minister on introducing it. It is a worthy objective and he has taken a big step in the right direction.

Many of the Senators have spoken from the local authority perspective. If they had turned around they would have seen my face getting redder. I am in a confessional mood — I am one of those nasty people who creates litter. I do not think any Senator did not refer to the nasty supermarket bags which are thrown away. My company is one of those big polluters because Senator Lanigan is probably correct in saying we give too many bags away.

We are in a competitive business and we meet the customer's demand. It would suit us much better if we did not give away nearly as many. I sit on a customer panel every week and I have raised the question of what would happen if we stopped providing plastic bags. It is clear that if we stopped the customers would feel obliged to go somewhere else. Others say they would put up with it and use another method. This is what excites me — other solutions are now available. One of the important solutions which is not tied to technology is attitude. If we can change the attitude to litter, which the Minister is doing in this Bill, we will take a step forward.

A group, including the chairman of Kelloggs in the United States, visited one of our stores in Lucan last Friday. He was with other Irish people who said they had not noticed the litter until he had drawn their attention to it. He pointed out bags and litter and asked what had gone wrong. I told them about the technology which is now capable of taking steps towards reducing litter. In the case of plastic bags there is technology which will obviate the necessity for them. However, there must be a change in attitude and a sense of pride in the nation among those who contribute to this pollution.

I remember going to the World Cup in Italy over six years ago. We were proud to be different from the English supporters and we were trying to establish that we were not English. The Garda inspector who was present on the trains managed to give a sense of pride to the Irish supporters by saying "We are representing Ireland and the television cameras of the world are focused on us so let us make sure we behave ourselves". If the Minister remembers, English supporters were banned from the pubs and they were closed when they played. However, the Irish were not banned, we were well-behaved and we were proud. Most of all, I remember coming away from that match where thousands of people had gathered and looking at the ground. There was not one cigarette packet or sweet paper left on the ground because as we left that stand, everybody picked up the litter. We were proud to say: "Look at the way we behave. We are not like those other people from other nations". If we can create that sense of pride, that is what can be achieved.

I like the Minister's multifaceted approach to the problem. He talks about a succession of different measures, of which legislation is just one. I would caution against thinking that there is a simple solution or that law, on its own, will achieve solve the problem. If we can create that sense of pride and a change in attitude through education, we will achieve much more than just the passage of laws.

I was in the United States a couple of years ago with a man called Fred Meijr, who owned a marvellous company in four states. I asked him how many people he employed in the company which he started some 50 years ago and was amazed when he told me had 92,000 employees. When we drove to his supermarkets and shopping centres, he never parked in a good customer parking place. He never walked up to the supermarket without wheeling a couple of empty shopping carts with him. He never walked past a piece of litter on the ground of the car park or in the shop without bending down and picking it up. He was setting an example and that was evident to the 92,000 people who worked for him and the millions who shopped in his stores. If there is one solution to this problem, it is having the legislation to back the example we set, the pride we will create and the change in attitude which will occur through the steps which are being taken by the Minister.

The Minister has pinpointed prevention as being most important. To return to the supermarket business, one of the managers in my company, Paddy Keaveney from Galway, set himself a target to prevent the first piece of paper falling on to the floor. I remember the night well. It was around Halloween. He brought all the young men who brushed the floor at night out to the back yard with their brushes and he got a can of petrol. He gave everybody a can of Coke and we stood around and said goodbye to the brushes. He burned them. He said they would not brush the floor any more but would stop the first piece of paper falling on the ground. He said if they achieved that, they would not have to brush the floors and would be able to get home earlier. They did achieve it. As with Fred Meijr, Paddy Keaveney was also setting out to instil the pride to which Senators Norris, Doyle and others referred when he spoke about sweeping and hosing down the street outside one's home and having that pride which is an example to others.

The Minister has outlined a succession of measures. He is using a carrot and stick approach. He is holding the stick behind his back and we, as a nation, know it. I get the impression from the Bill that he does not wish to use the stick but that it is important to have the option. This Bill is a genuine effort to address the problem but it will not be easy to do so. However, we have taken the first steps.

This Bill replaces the Litter Act, 1982. Why do we need litter pollution rather than a "litter" Bill? I am sure there is a reason and the Minister can explain.

If we are to succeed in eradicating litter, the whole nation must be behind the initiative. Then the Minister will have no need to use the powers he will possess because we, as a nation, will have changed our attitude. I wish the Minister well and congratulate him on the Bill.

Due to time constraints, I will share my time with Senator Maloney.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome the Bill. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed by Senator Quinn that, unless people are conscious of their attitude to litter, there will be a litter problem irrespective of the amount of legislation we enact. Education is the answer to the problem. Pride of property and community also plays a part in it. The latest trends in national schools in particular where awards are presented by local authorities to schools for their appearance is what is needed. My local authority, Roscommon County Council, has had such a measure in place over the past five or six years and, although the prize is only £100 or £200, all schools which apply for the scheme are visited. More schools join the scheme every year. If all schools in County Roscommon joined the scheme, then every child attending national school would have a new attitude towards litter and keeping the environment in good condition. It is a scheme which the Minister might encourage in other local authorities. It is a novel idea and has worked extremely well in County Roscommon. While the schools and their grounds have been the main beneficiary, it has the great effect of involving children in caring for the environment by not allowing a place to become littered and not becoming a person who litters. Maybe other local authorities are involved in the scheme but I found it to be a good one.

Each local authority will have to undertake a waste management plan which is welcome. The main area I find trouble with is the use of lane-ways and other secluded areas for indiscriminate dumping. That is still a major issue nationally and I do not know how we can get around it. Placing signs which warn of £500 or £800 fines does not seem to have resolved the matter. To some extent it is really window dressing which has not worked.

Transportation of baled silage along county byroads is also a problem. It is out of order for farmers to travel along public roads with baled silage to feed cattle. They will not travel on their own land because they do not want to damage it by digging it up with a tractor. Invariably there are plastic bags and silage on our county roads as well as massive amounts of clay and mud. We should tell farmers they are not entitled to use roads as a convenience for the transportation of silage. They have a responsibility to stay on their own land as far as possible when transporting such material. I understand that where there are fragmented holdings farmers must come onto the public highway, but it is an abuse of the system to use roads as I have outlined. I hope the Bill will discourage that type of activity.

The dumping of carcases poses yet another problem. While we have always had such problems down through the years they have been aggravated recently because of new stringent regulations governing the movement of cattle. I appreciate the reason for the new regulations is to control the movement of diseased animals but due to the cost involved in disposing of carcases, which can amount to £300 or £400, people are burying or dumping dead animals. We must discourage this dangerous practice which can pollute wells and water courses. The Minister might refer to that point in his reply.

There is only one plant in the country, in County Cavan, equipped to receive and safely dispose of carcases. That problem could be overcome, however, by grant aiding other plants to bring them up to the proper standards to deal with carcases. This would avoid having to transport such material all the way to County Cavan.

If I have a conflict with the Minister it is because of the differential in refuse charges between city dwellers and those in rural areas. All rural householders now pay such charges but those in cities do not and some people feel quite aggrieved. I have said in the House before that when the Minister removed local charges he conveniently excluded refuse charges knowing full well that there is a public refuse collection service in cities but not in most rural areas. People outside urban areas can pay £60 or £70 a year just to have their domestic refuse collected. That is an anomaly which amounts to discrimination and which may contribute to some indiscriminate dumping. While I would not tolerate such dumping, that anomaly exists and some people feel badly about it.

We should not allow election material like posters to be used, which can cause litter problems. I would prefer if the law did not allow such material to be posted at all and if the same rule was applied for everybody it would not make a difference. If the Minister had included a provision in the Bill banning election posters he might have received cross party support but I appreciate there would have to be all party agreement on such a move. My view is that election material should not be used and I would support legislation to that end. I cannot speak for anyone else but from general discussions I know that many people are of the same view.

I welcome the legislation but hope it will not be like other measures I have seen over the years to deal with water or air pollution which were not implemented because of a shortage of funds. It is all very well to enact legislation and hand the matter over to local authorities, but councils must have some money.

For many years my county has provided a litter warden who does an excellent job. Many people do not want him to interfere when he highlights a litter problem but he has a job to do and he does it properly. Many sections in the Bill call upon local authorities to undertake certain tasks but, in order to do so, an authority must have money. Hopefully, when the legislation is enacted local authorities will have the necessary finances to implement it.

The Minister has extended the powers of the Garda to impose on-the-spot litter fines, although the general trend these days is for such minor duties to be reduced rather than increased since gardaí are preoccupied in too many small roles which are not relevant to the fight against crime. I wonder if this move will be welcomed by members of the Garda Síochána. I do not know what their view would be, but we abolished Garda involvement in checking dog licences some years ago and I do not see why we should involve gardaí in imposing on-the-spot fines for litter. There may be a good reason for it but should we waste the time of such valuable professional people in this way? I am not taking away from the importance of imposing such fines but litter wardens are the people who can and should do that.

I thank Senator Finneran for sharing his time. This Bill is probably one of the most important ones we have discussed for a long time. Litter is a major problem and we seem to be a dirty nation in some ways. Regardless of whether you drive through towns or the countryside you will see all types of litter strewn around. On beaches in summertime one sees people leaving plastic bags, nappies and other horrible stuff behind them. They will not remove litter and bring it home in the car. Driving through the country one sees plastic bags left all over the place by farmers who do not bother to remove them after spreading fertiliser. This is disappointing. Northern Ireland seems to have a better system. Perhaps that is because there is tighter security there and more police on the streets. Our towns and cities are not as clean as they were when gardaí were on the beat and people were afraid of on-the-spot fines.

I compliment the tidy towns committees for the excellent work they do. I also compliment the Minister for visiting Letterkenny 12 months ago to present an award to the tidy towns committee. I am sure he saw the changes which are taking place. Letterkenny Urban District Council has decided to use a small street cleaning vehicle to keep the town clean. Sweepers start at 6 a.m. and by 8 a.m. the streets have been swept. Donegal County Council also employs the street sweeper on a regular basis when it is not being used by the urban district council. It is a cheap service which every local authority should have.

I am concerned about the beautiful beaches in Donegal where people leave litter after them. Most people who go to the beaches have cars so they should be able to take their litter home with them. However, we cannot seem to educate people to do this. I welcome this legislation which will make people, especially young people, more aware of the problems caused by litter. I also welcome the fact that the school curriculum contains a lot of information about the environment to which young people should be introduced at an early stage. A recent survey showed that 80 per cent of sites are covered in litter.

I commend people in some fast food outlets for trying to clean the street outside their shops after they close. I commend the owner of one fast food outlet in Letterkenny which gave a prize of a bicycle for the cleanest area. He was trying to draw attention to the fact that people should throw their used food containers in a wastepaper basket.

Since one would imagine that secondary school students would be aware of the problems caused by litter, it was disappointing to find they are among the highest polluters. It is also unacceptable that people cannot throw their bank receipts from ATM machines in the baskets provided.

The Minister mentioned the initiatives he is taking to prevent litter. I welcome the work being done by local authorities. A number of colourful hoardings were put up in Letterkenny to encourage people to take their litter home with them. A few hoardings put up by the prisoners groups are not as colourful but local authorities are afraid to remove them. It is like trying to improve the state of plastic signs and billboards in towns. Many local authorities have problems trying to stop people putting up plastic signs, but Donegal County Council was successful in this regard. We must condemn the fact that local authorities are afraid to remove posters put up for political reasons.

If local authorities take the initiative by conducting advertising campaigns and making statements at local meetings, which are published in the newspapers, we might be able to solve the litter problem. I welcome the provision of £400,000 to control litter.

Owners of public houses and off licences are not doing enough to prevent litter. People often throw cans and bottles on the streets at night when they leave their premises. One of the problems is the lack of gardaí on the streets which means people cannot be fined on the spot.

This legislation is typical of how the Minister has controlled his Department since he took office. We will only solve this problem if local authorities take the initiative. Litter management plans must be prepared by local authorities. It is important for county councils and urban district councils to advertise in local newspapers, many of which are free. Such campaigns could be used to educate people because everyone reads newspapers.

Senator Lanigan mentioned an American recycling system. Donegal County Council has received a proposal from an American company to build a £5 million recycling plant. However, it maintains there is not enough refuse in Donegal and that it would have to bring in waste from Sligo, Leitrim and Derry to make it pay. It has homed in on one specific area approximately four miles from the town. However, the county council has decided to use that land for its landfill site. People who live in the area are concerned that it will be turned into a huge dump. Local authorities must be careful where they allow such recycling plants to be located. We all welcome recycling but we must choose the right sites.

I welcome the steps the Minister is taking to prevent litter. I also welcome this Bill which tightens the 1982 legislation.

I will be brief partly because I have not done my homework as well as I should have on the details of the Bill and partly because I agree with much of what has been said and I do not want to repeat it. However, I stress the importance of trying to inculcate an attitude which comes as a culture shock to many people.

The Minister said he has distributed material to schools at primary and secondary level. He should not stop at second level. I come from a campus which, apart from one neo-Stalinist corner, is one of the loveliest to be found anywhere. It is appalling how degraded it is by litter. One would almost be ashamed at times to bring visitors to it because of the amount of litter. It is not that students are dirtier than anyone else. Now that more young people are going to third level, this material should be sent to students' unions. I would have tidy campus and dirty campus prizes, although given the year that is in it I am sure the Minister does not want to be seen awarding the first dirty campus prize initiated under legislation. I would try every trick in the book to raise consciousness among young people in particular because if it becomes embedded in them, they will, with luck, keep it for life. That recommendation should not cost much but I hope it would have an impact if sustained over time.

How much money is spent by public authorities on cleaning? This is a different issue to individuals keeping the footpath in front of their shops or houses clean, as regularly happens on the Continent. How much does Dublin or Cork spend on cleaning compared with cities of comparable size on the Continent or in the United States? In continental cities one sees streets being cleaned daily, either late in the evening or early in the morning. I wonder if we spend nearly as much, allowing for the variables involved in these matters, as other cities. If we do not, it signals where our priorities lie.

I do not wish to say we are dirty people, although we have been from time to time, but we are slovenly in these matters. If the anti-litter campaign is have maximum impact it must have a combination of public and private involvement. The public sector must be seen to do its part in an almost preventive way. It should convey the attitude that litter is so unacceptable it will be cleaned up daily. That will establish minimum standards which, one hopes, will help elevate private perceptions of what is an acceptable level of litter. I do not wish to use the phrase "zero tolerance" for what is on the ground, but we should aim in that direction as far as possible. That involves being prepared to spend more than we are in a position to spend at present.

They are my recommendations. I welcome the Bill. It is more important than the more spectacular legislation that comes before the House. Who knows if much of that legislation will work? If it does work, it will be seen to work. Although it is probably low profile legislation, it is most important and I congratulate the Minister on it. It will be a step forward if it can be implemented effectively.

This is an important Bill, but I wonder if we can legislate to create a nation that is clean in its habits. One of Ireland's biggest problems is that Irish people are inherently slovenly.

We tolerate litter, filth and conditions in our scenic areas that would not be tolerated anywhere else. I cannot understand that psychology. When one visits Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains one can see carefully packaged litter which has been brought there by people from Dublin or the surrounding towns. In addition to enjoying the countryside, they leave a carefully parcelled hallmark.

I welcome the Bill. It is good legislation but we should not delude ourselves into believing it will create a better country. We must work on people's minds and create a sense of civic pride. I welcome the initiatives the Minister has taken in this area. The Bill makes such good sense I will simply comment on its sections. Senator Lee referred to the cost of street cleaning. Litter can be found everywhere but it is predominantly an urban problem. We must face the reality that we will not create a litter free built environment unless we are prepared to put resources into it.

In every continental town one can see street cleaning operations taking place after commercial business hours and often late at night. In French towns, for example, one regularly sees streets being hosed and washed. Evidently many resources are put into such operations, which indicates that people are willing to pay taxes for it. Government must levy tax for everything it gives. By putting more onus on the individual, we are avoiding the reality we cannot and should not try to avoid, namely, that creating a litter free environment is about investing resources.

Section 6 puts a statutory responsibility on the owners and occupiers of properties to keep the area around such properties clean. That is welcome; it is something one should do in the natural course of events. I live on a main thoroughfare in Bray and one of the services I carry out for my constituents each Saturday morning is to remove the fast food packaging which litters the area around my house after the previous night. It is an irritating task but it is something one must do.

Street cleaning should primarily be the responsibility of the local authority, although I accept that people who live and carry out commercial operations in these areas should try to keep the surrounding area clean. The Minister will remember one of the great traditions in Wexford, where both of us grew up, of people in towns and villages spending one day each week cleaning and washing the streets. That tradition lasted for many years and it is hard to find out why it finished. The Minister is trying to recreate the attitude that every citizen must take responsibility for the problem. I welcome that, but there also must be a statutory responsibility on local authorities.

We are a religious people and local authorities observe all the holy days and bank holidays. A major problem in many urban areas, including Bray, is that bank holidays often coincide with bin collection days. In areas such as Connolly Square and Kevin Square in Bray the bins are not collected on banks holidays. Those houses do not have back gardens so plastic bags full of litter must be left on the street. If there are two bank holidays in a row or if there is a problem with bin collection, it can result in an unsustainable amount of litter. The Minister might consider putting a statutory responsibility on local authorities to ensure bin collection services are comprehensive.

I can give the Minister a long list of areas where bins are collected on Mondays but where there is no collection on bank holidays or on religious holidays that might fall on Mondays. In areas where there are old houses which have little surrounding space or which open onto streets, there is nowhere to store litter. Inevitably it is left in black plastic bags outside the doors of the houses and dogs, cats and other scavengers cause the litter to be strewn on the road. That problem arises because the local authority has not fulfilled its responsibilities.

I welcome the provisions regarding the responsibilities of owners of houses, particularly owners of houses in multiple lettings. Properties in multiple lettings can be a serious problem. They are usually located in town centres and frequently do not have provision for the storage of litter. I also welcome the provisions in section 7. If one travels on the N11 between the Loughlinstown bypass and the Fassaroe overpass one can see where beautiful planting was carried out on both sides of the road by the two county councils. However, the plants are covered by plastic and wind blown litter from the many open top lorries which travel that road carrying litter. That should be an offence. One of the operators who travels that road is exemplary in that he has tremendous facilities to prevent that occurring. However, many operators still carry litter through the area in open top lorries. The Minister should examine the possibility of imposing a specific responsibility under section 7 on people who transport waste to ensure that it cannot blow across the countryside.

In addition, something will have to be done to create a sense of responsibility in the NRA.

Debate adjourned.