EYESORE A trailer load of household waste dumped at the entrance of a forestry plantation near Liscarney.
Councillors in the west of the county have called for increased fines for anyone caught illegally dumping rubbish following an increase in fly-tipping in the region.
The call was made by some of the members of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District at their monthly meeting after incidents of dumping in beauty spots around the region were outlined.
Last week The Mayo News was sent photographs of a trailer load of household waste dumped at the entrance of a forestry plantation near Liscarney, outside, Westport and this is said to be a regular occurrence.
At the meeting, councillors had praised the work of tidy town volunteers in the different towns and villages in the region but felt they were ‘up against it’ due to people constantly littering and dumping waste.
Carrowholly-based councillor John O’Malley told the meeting he was recently notified of a couch thrown over a bridge into a river and called for increased fines to deter this time of activity.
“If it wasn’t for the volunteers we would be in an awful mess. Some people don’t care what they dump. I had to call Anne Moore [council official] one day about a couch dumped beside the river. What kind of person came along and took that couch and dumped it down over a bridge beside a river? I don’t understand the mentality of people who do that.
“I don’t know what we can do about it but I think the fines for dumping have to be increased because there is nothing as bad as rubbish dumped illegally along the road and near rivers,” he said.
Cllr O’Malley told the story of how on one occasion a person dumped rubbish along the shore near his home and set it on fire before leaving.
“I cannot understand why they would drive to a dead end, dump out the stuff and crack a match and leave. This is what we are all up against. Tidy Towns do great for communities but we are up against some people and I think the fines for dumping should be greater.”
He was supported by a number of other councillors who also questioned the mentality of people who throw rubbish from their cars onto the side of the road.
“It is an absolute disgrace to see people dump rubbish on the side of the roads and on our beaches,” said Cllr Gerry Coyle.
“When the hedge clipper cuts the grass, the amount of bottles and take-away bags on the side of the road is horrendous. Then you have volunteers running around picking up someone else’s filth. They would not throw it in their own garden but yet they throw it on the side of the road for someone else to pick up. I have to congratulate the different rural schemes and volunteers who do the work but their workload would be lightened if everyone copped on,” he said.
Westport-based Independent councillor Christy Hyland asked the council executive if the councillors had the power to increase on the spot fines for anyone caught littering. Director of Services, Catherine McConnell, said she believed any proposal to increase fines will have to be brought before the main council to be passed.
Cllr Hyland said they should do that because a large fine will soon send the message out to people littering.
“I know there is talk about not having the resources or time to implement by-laws but if we focus on it and if a few people are fined for littering the message goes out loud and clear. I would be suggesting a fine of €250 minimum on the spot, no messing, and shared out with the tidy town committees around the county. If you get stung with a large fine you soon send out the message,” he said.