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Waste Management

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (40)

Emer Higgins

Question:

40. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if local authorities will receive support in 2021 and 2022 to help fund anti-dumping initiatives. [61307/21]

View answer

Oral answers (6 contributions) (Question to Environment)

My question is related to the previous one in that it concerns illegal dumping. Will additional money be made available next year to fund anti-dumping initiatives?

I was very happy to manage to secure additional funding in the budget for next year for anti-dumping initiatives, for exactly the reasons I was talking about in response to the previous question. Public information works for most people but not for that small cohort of society who are recidivist, shameful, furtive dumpers.

The annual anti-dumping initiative, ADI, was introduced in 2017 to encourage a collaborative approach between local authorities, communities and other State agencies in tackling the problem of illegal dumping. Delivery of the ADI is co-ordinated by three waste enforcement regional lead authorities and supported projects are selected based on their impact on four key criteria, namely, prevention, abatement, enforcement and awareness. Since its introduction, funding of more than €9 million has been provided by my Department under the initiative, which has supported the delivery of more than 1,000 projects in all 31 local authorities. Full details of funding, broken down by local authority and individual project, for each of the years 2017 to 2020 are available on gov.ie.

A further €3 million has been allocated to local authorities under the 2021 anti-dumping initiative. Payments are being processed and details will be made available on gov.ie when the process is complete. Allocations under the initiative for 2022 have yet to be finalised, but it is likely a similar sum will be made available to local authorities under the initiative.

The Department also continues to invest significantly in the local authority waste enforcement network under the local authority waste enforcement measures grant scheme. More than €7.7 million has been provided to local authorities under the scheme in 2021 to support the recruitment and retention of more than 150 local authority waste enforcement staff throughout the country.

That update was really great to hear. Unfortunately, littering and fly-tipping have become bigger and bigger issues recently. I commend the work of Tidy Towns throughout the country and particularly in my areas of Clondalkin, Rathcoole, Saggart, Brittas, Newcastle and Lucan. They do tremendous work using some of the grant funding the Minister of State mentioned and working with local authorities to make a big difference on the ground.

Fly-tipping is a particularly big issue in the rural areas I represent, such as Saggart, Rathcoole, Newcastle and Brittas. Unfortunately, items such as old mattresses and furniture are dumped in areas including Mount Seskin, Mahon's Lane and Baldonnel. Is there a role for CCTV, the audio equipment the Minister of State mentioned earlier or perhaps even drones to help stamp that out? Councillors Shirley O'Hara and Baby Pereppadan have done a great deal of work with the local authority on this. I would appreciate hearing the Minister of State's views on it.

Yes, there may be a way to use CCTV in places that are repeatedly used for fly-tipping. That is the way it happens. There may be a certain place or laneway that is very quiet, people will begin to use it all the time and the entire field will start to fill up. I will certainly examine the legislation to see whether CCTV can be used in those circumstances.

In my initial reply to the question, when I spoke about where money is being spent to reduce littering and improve waste enforcement, I mentioned that 150 local authority waste staff are being financed, which is really important. It is all well and good to give some money to local authorities to use but they cannot use it if they do not have the capacity or the staff. The funding was provided to ensure they would have that. They have that combination of capital and current funding. As a result, I would like the Deputy and any other Deputy with concerns to ask their local authority how it is doing with that. They should ask what the local authority's policies on this issue are, talk to their local councillors - I am sure the Deputy knows many of them - ask them to speak to their executive and to put this on the agenda of their council meetings, remind them they have the money, the staff and the capital and ask them what progress they are making.

That is really good advice and I will certainly pass it on to the county councillors in my area. Councillors Shirley O'Hara, Kenneth Egan, Vicki Casserly, Baby Pereppadan and others are doing a great deal of work to respond to littering in particular.

Turning to on-street recycling, I acknowledge we have invested substantially throughout the pandemic in new bins for parks, villages, towns and cities. With so much of our waste now capable of being recycled, is there a greater opportunity to consider on-street recycling? South Dublin County Council recently held a bulky waste recycling event in the run-up to Hallowe'en, where it charged a nominal fee for the recycling of bulky waste and took the hassle out of it all for people such that they would not have to travel to Ballymount or another recycling centre. It was a great success and we definitely saw the impact of that at Hallowe'en from the perspective of there being less bulky material available for illegal bonfires. What are the Minister of State's views on that extending that?

I have spoken to the Lord Mayor of Dublin, who brought in a scheme whereby there are yellow bins, which are not to everybody's visual liking, in the city centre that can be used for recyclable items, and I welcome that kind of initiative. The idea for bulky waste the Deputy mentioned is good. I had not heard of it but it could be something we would promote through other local authorities.

The Tidy Towns groups really came to the fore during the lockdown. There was little else to do and it is was hard to meet up with people other than by carrying out outdoor activities. Picking up rubbish was a safe enough thing to do. Much of the stuff people were picking up consisted of plastic drink bottles and cans. In the coming months, I will be bringing in a deposit return scheme. Anyone who picks up cans or bottles can take them to any supermarket or any place that sells such drinks and get a refund. The amount we will target is probably 20 cent per item. That will cut down significantly on litter. This particular type of litter has been very visible over the past year or two as a result of the outdoor drinking and parties that were happening when pubs and restaurants were shut. However, the overall volume of litter went down last year. We managed to reduce waste but the litter that was there was much more visible.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.
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