Wednesday, March 18, 2015

ASK any tourist what their lasting memory of Ireland is and they will probably tell you it is the colour green. No, I am not talking about all the green items of clothing or party gear every second person will be wearing today, but rather the countryside that we often take for granted.

The fact is that there are few countries in the world that can boast such breathtaking scenery as we have in abundance in Ireland. It doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be a local beauty spot. We are spoiled for choice.

Unfortunately, that also means we have no appreciation for what we have and we are, literally, spoiling that very countryside which makes us unique as a holiday destination.

I am talking about all the illegal dumping which is taking place on practically every back road and secondary route in the country at present, as well as the total desecration of beauty spots all over the country. And as a consequence, there has been an explosion in the number of rats living off such unofficial dump sites.

Ask any fan of walking and they will all complain about the increase in vermin, even if they don’t comment on the rubbish. The situation is so bad that nowadays we take it as read that wherever there is an open space, you are bound to find a couple of black refuse bags full of rubbish.

The M7 was long overdue and is a great benefit to those who have a daily commute to Dublin. Unfortunately, one of the off-shoots of that was the ideal locations it provided for dumping on nearby secondary or country roads.

As the cost of legal dumping continues to rise – okay, there have been no increases in the cost of a visit to the dump, but the weight allowance has dropped dramatically – so, too, are the incidences of illegal dumping.

Once upon a time, a trip along the back road from Carlow to Bagenalstown, while not exactly a sight for sore eyes, wasn’t at all bad. However, especially in the last few months, the amount of rubbish being discarded along that route has become alarming. Local landowners do their best to clean it up, but no sooner have they cleaned up one mess than another appears overnight.

Whatever system is being employed by the local authority to rid us of this problem is not working. This is not a blame game; who is responsible or who is at fault doesn’t interest me. That doesn’t get us anywhere. What I am interested in is a drastic reduction in this type of dumping.

Surely there is adequate technology in existence that could help rid us of this scourge. But if current trends are anything to go by, we will do what we always do – wait until we get a reputation for fly-tipping before we do anything.

Once upon a time, Ireland did have a bad rep for illegal dumping. The first thing any tourist saw after leaving our ports or airports was rubbish. Then local authorities and business interests got together and great strides were made to create beauty spots all over the country. But along the way, it would appear that we all forgot this was to be a constant battle.

Let’s hope that those who are responsible for the allocation of resources to tackle this problem will do so before it is too late and all the good work of the past will have been for nothing.

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By Michael Godfrey
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