Illegal dumping was a huge problem in the county, agreed members at a Laois Joint Policing Committee meeting in County Hall.
Cllr Willie Aird said he was getting an average of three calls a day about the problem. He declared: “It’s one of the biggest tortures of society at the moment.”
Director of Services Michael Rainey said Laois had only four authorised waste collectors. He urged people to “let us know” if they knew of anybody going into estates to collect rubbish.
Cllr John King believed the culprits knew the location of CCTV and picked particular dates to dump. He said dumping had taken place on the Ballybrophy side of Borris-in-Ossory on the day of a funeral in the village.
He claimed: “It’s going to be very hard to solve.”
Cllr Tom Muhall: “I’ve never seen it as bad since Christmas - washing machines, pillows, mattresses. They are dumping black bags on hard shoulders and hedge cutters are cutting these to smithereens.”
He said people with cars and trailers were going around at weekends and collecting waste. These people were getting paid for illegal dumping.
He called on the Council, Coillte, the IFA, Tidy Towns and Community Alert to form a committee to fight the problem.
Cllr James Kelly noted that Laois had only three litter wardens.
Public Partnership Network representative Tom Jones believed the culprits should be brought to court and named and fined.
Chairman Cllr Padraig Fleming: “I agree with you but Data protection does not allow us to use names.”
Mr Jones: “If somebody is prosecuted they can be named.”
Deputy Sean Fleming: “Who pays the cost of cleaning up?”
Mr Rainey said the Council would work with Coillte on the problem. Wardens could impose on-the-spot fines, he explained. But when a case was brought to court, the Council looked for clean-up costs. Education was the main thing, he thought.
In a written report to the meeting, Mr Rainey noted: “Through a comprehensive programme of public awareness campaigns, education programmes, active enforcement and the use of CCTV technology, the environment section continues to tackle the blight of illegal dumping in Co Laois.”
He said the confidential litter hotline (1800 32 32 30) was critical to enforcement efforts.
Mr Rainey revealed: “As of 7th February, 122 complaints from the public have been logged, 64 relating to litter/illegal dumping incidences.”
As part of its efforts to tackle the problem the council is to step up its polcing of the problem through the use of CCTV.
Mr Rainey told coucillor recently that mobile cameras were about to be purchases.