IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey has delivered a strong warning to local authorities about their heavy-handed approach towards farmers on the public’s littering, and has demanded that letters targeting landowners for other people’s rubbish be withdrawn immediately.
His warning follows the threat from Kilkenny County Council to impose fines of up to €130,000 on landowners after rubbish dumped by passers-by was discovered in roadside ditches and fields. “Farmers are very annoyed that they are being scapegoated. Litter creates an unsightly mess and can cause injury to livestock. This is an attempt by Kilkenny County Council to abdicate its own responsibility for keeping the countryside clean and stopping the proliferation of littering by unthinking members of the public.”
He said, “IFA has run a number of campaigns highlighting the problems of litter in the countryside. While we will continue to play our part, farmers cannot be held liable and it is the responsibility of local authorities to keep the countryside free of litter.”
Eddie Downey said local authorities would be better served using their resources to track down those guilty of the littering and impose the fines on them. “Landowners who received this letter are flabbergasted. They have been plagued by persistent littering along the roadside and into their fields.”
He called on the local authority to remove immediately the threat of fines and a prosecution and he urged the Environment Minister Phil Hogan to review the legislation and direct local authorities to concentrate their efforts on cleaning up the countryside.
Attached is IFA’s plan of action to tackle rural and roadside litter, and one of the letters sent to farmers.
Niall Madigan (01) 450 1931/ 086 822 8635
Morag Devins (01) 426 0344/ 086 263 3940
National Rural Spring Clean Week
During this week, all County Council environmental enforcement officers should be available to collect and clear rubbish along roadside verges, once notified.
Civic Amenity sites on the outskirts of Towns and Villages County Councils must establish a network of strategically located skips on the outskirts of all towns and villages, where people can safely dispose of rubbish rather than litter the countryside.
Communication and Education Campaign County Council environmental enforcement officers must liaise directly with the public to highlight the problem of rural littering and encourage people to take their litter home and dispose of it correctly; supported by a major national television, radio and print media campaign to highlight the issue.
Enforcement of anti-littering Laws. Each County Council must enforce the anti-littering laws effectively and encourage the general public to report offenders.
Dedicated Litter Reporting Line + Website. A national free-phone litter reporting line and website should be developed to allow people to report incidents of littering.
National Litter Action Taskforce. The Government must immediately establish a task force made up of representatives from key interest groups, including IFA, to tackle this issue at national level and ensure delivery by County Councils.