19 Aug 2022

Drones with cameras bought to catch illegal dumpers in Laois

Drones with cameras bought to catch illegal dumpers in Laois

Eyes in the skies to catch illegal dumpers in action are planned next year in Laois.

Drone cameras have already been bought by Laois County Council to tackle the deep seated pollution issue across the county’s roadsides, bogs and woodlands. 

Laois County Council has invested in camera technology to switch on when the new waste Bill is in place, expected to happen in spring of 2022.

Among the investments is €15,760 to buy drone technology and audio devices.  There will also be a waste collection amnesty event later this year.

Director of Services Simon Walton gave detail to the June meeting.

“We’ve been purchasing covert CCTV infrastructure. We’re now looking at some drone technology that will support the identification of illegal dumping. It’s an increasing challenge and increasing cost because of the increase in illegal dumping

“There will be later in the year a bulky waste amnesty day probably in September. That follows on from funding we got under the anti-dumping initiative. In fairness to the state they are funding some of the programmes,” Mr Walton said.

However at present all CCTV cameras have had to be turned off due to a data protection legal issue.

The council’s waste enforcement department has said that “enforcement efforts are limited by virtue of the current prohibition on the use of CCTV”.

“The fact is we can’t, they are switched off. It’s illegal according to the Data Protection Commissioner,” Mr Walton said, in response to a request on an update by Cllr Aidan Mullins from Portarlington.

Cllr Willie Aird from Portlaoise lamented the legal loophole.

“It is very bad news that there is no CCTV at bottle banks. We need that legislation quickly . Our hands are tied on using CCTV. There is an unmerciful amount of dumping. Could we come up with something new to stop this terrible epidemic on our society, once off skips or something?”

“I was on a byroad last Sunday and by the time I walked the cattle up and came back, it had been littered,” he said.

“Our county would be a million times worse if not for the amount of voluntary workers out there. They’re absolutely fantastic. You see them out with bags and pickers every day. I thank all those people,” he said. 

Cllrs John King and  John Joe Fennelly both said naming and shaming has to be done, also thanking council staff.

“With all the people picking up litter, to be fair to them the time has come to name and shame,” Cllr Fennelly said.

The council director agreed.

“The whole name and shame policy is one I think we would all sign up to,” Mr Walton said.

The council said it spent almost €30,000 cleaning waste from Cloninagh, Errill and Clonreher bogs this year. It spent €25,000 on the extended clean up Laois week, and another clean-up in the autumn. The money was granted from Government.

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