There has been a tremendous response to the Green Kilomertre Scheme with 170 groups and individuals across Meath signed up, ranging from small family groups to larger community led events such as the Moynalvy GFA, Bohermeen Bog Development Group, Ballinabrackey Communities Together.
Meath County Council was aware from the high number of emails received that people who found themselves with a little bit more time on their hands, and from those undertaking regular exercise in their very local area had noticed an increase in littering and illegal dumping, and wanted to take action. However, we have had a much greater demand for the service than expected and have had to take on another collection truck to keep up with requirements.
We have lots of new people getting in touch who are now taking part in voluntary works for the first time. Obviously in an ideal world we would not need an army of people out litter picking in their area, however the Council is very grateful for the communities input and their feedback tells us that they are getting a lot out of the experience too. Groups and individuals are enjoying the walking, running and cycling routes available with the added benefit now of being litter free and it is also encouraging more biodiversity into the hedgerows.
Meath County Council is not asking people to separate the waste due to Covid restrictions; all waste is placed directly into bags using a picker and gloves. The bags will go through a process which will separate some of the waste streams including metals and glass for recycling; the remaining materials will go for energy recovery and disposal.
So far the communities in Meath have collected over 5,000 bags of waste and 10 roll on roll off skips of bulky waste and tyres at a cost of approximately €20,000, with an additional investment of €15,000 in equipment.
There is a lot of dashboard dining style dumping taking place – drink and food containers. Larger scale dumping tends to take place at night, under the cover of darkness which presents difficulties in identifying and prosecuting the offender. This is very frustrating for local communities and for our own enforcement staff who must follow very strict regulations when putting together a case.
In addition the current GDPR legislation makes it difficult to prosecute an offender even with CCTV evidence unless the CCTV is specifically in place for that purpose. The Government, through the office of Minster Eamon Ryan, has given a commitment to review the legislation with a view to making prosecution of offenders under Litter and Waste legislation more accessible in terms of GDPR and CCTV. This work is well underway and we are expecting to receive advice and guidance in the coming weeks. The council has undertaken covert monitoring in dumping hot spots in the past, and will increase this type of monitoring in line with the advice from the Ministers office, when it becomes available.