I thank the Deputy. It is a question close to my heart. I spent several years in local government and came across this matter. My Department published the general scheme of the circular economy Bill 2021 on 15 June 2021. It is my intention under the Bill to facilitate not only the use of CCTV but also the use of a broad range of audiovisual recording equipment in order to assist local authorities in their efforts to combat litter and illegal dumping. Drafting of the Bill is well advanced, as is, I understand, the pre-legislative scrutiny process before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action. The Bill will be published and enacted as soon as possible after pre-legislative scrutiny has been completed and I have considered the report of the committee. I look forward to receiving the committee's recommendations and will respond constructively to them.
A combination of legislation and guidance will help to ensure the processing of personal data obtained through the use of CCTV and audiovisual equipment may be carried out by local authorities tasked with enforcing both litter and waste legislation, thus providing an important deterrent in order to protect our environment from the scourge of illegal dumping while at the same time respecting the privacy of our citizens.
The Deputy knows this type of crime is often furtive and it is a shameful act. People do it when they think nobody's looking. We cannot cover the country with CCTV but in certain locations, such as at council recycling facilities where people might just rock up and throw stuff on the ground, it would really help with the problem. The use of audio equipment also helps and I have seen cases where local authorities call out people who are dumping through a loudspeaker. They record the details of a car, such as the registration number, and send them a fine afterwards.
Penalties are not the only element but there is a persistent recidivist section of the population - a small minority - that causes much of the waste being thrown around. I do not want to drive through rural Ireland and see sofas, cars and things thrown into fields. I would be very happy for us to improve enforcement and catch people doing this.