An investigation is underway into dumping along the River Owenass in Mountmellick after local anglers cleared a big load of waste from the river bank.
More than 30 sacks of household and possible commercial waste was cleared by members of the Mountmellick Angling Club at the scenic Clonterry wood, ahead of a Leinster fly fishing competition this weekend. The clean up was carried out on Monday, April 2 and took a number of hours to complete.
Paul Lalor is a club member and water keeper. He said most of the waste was dumped on Coillte owned land. He said the waste varied from bottles and cans to nappies and other household waste. However, it’s suspected that some material from a business may have been dumped.
“There was a lot of rubbish in a small area, but it has built up over this area. It is nearly always the same people who get into the habit of dumping,” he said.
Mr Lalor said the material dumped had been made available to Laois County Council’s environment section to investigate further. However, he feared that nothing found could be used in evidence in a prosecution, because no litter warden was present when the clean up was underway.
Anglers are to continue their clean up of the river as part of Clean up Laois Week. Mr Lalor urged fisherman to be alert for dumping along the river.
“We ask all club members to keep a watchful eye on the area as it is usually the same people who re-offend. We would like to thank Laois County Council Environmental Section and the Mountmellick office for their assistance with this clean up. We will be cleaning a stretch of the river Owenass on Wednesday, April 18 from 6pm. at Smith Field,” he said.
Mountmellick Town Council Chairman, Cllr Stephen Lynch is also in the angling club and took part in the clean up. He said the waste was mainly household rubbish but it would be up to the council to confirm if there was commercial waste dumped. He said the dumping was carried out by people who have no regard for the countryside.
He was concerned about the danger of the waste and that it puts off visitors.
“It’s a health hazard that only draws vermin. It was amazing the amount of bags we took out. The angling club is also promoting tourism and Ireland is promoting tourism and we have done a lot of development, and to see that rubbish is not good for anyone that likes to come to fishing to the town,” he said.
Cllr Lynch said he would be asking about the restoration of a litter warden to help communities and clubs when they are cleaning up.