Cleaning up after litter louts cost the county coffers almost €1.5 million last year - with nearly €15 spent per person in Kikenny in 2011.
Cigarette-related litter accounts for over half of all litter found across the county’s towns and villages, while food-related litter, including chewing gum and fast food, is the most prevalent on the city streets. Passing pedestrians are the biggest contributors to the problem.
This is according to Environmental Awareness Officer Bernadette Moloney, who addressed a meeting of Kilkenny County Council to introduce Kilkenny’s new draft litter management plan. The plan, which examines ways to combat the county’s litter problem over the next two years, also reveals that illegal roadside dumping on national and primary roads has increased.
However, the number of prosecutions taken in the city and county fell by 80 per cent between 2008 and 2010, with just four successful prosecutions during the latter year. In addition, just 189 people were issued litter fines in 2010 - 68 fewer than in the previous year.
The council says it has become increasingly difficult to apprehend offenders as they have become aware of how evidence is collected, especially in relation to illegal dumping.
“Due to retirements, we have temporarily had reduced staff numbers,” Ms Moloney told the council.
“That is why the use of cameras is becoming very important.”
The council has a covert surveillance system around the city, which operates both day and night. A number of fines and several successful court prosecutions have resulted from its use at litter black spots, such as bottle banks where illegal dumping is persistent.
A number of councillors asked whether there could be a return to the former ‘name and shame’ policy, which publicised the names of offenders. In 2010, the Department of the Environment ruled that ‘name and shame’ campaigns were not permissible, due to data protection laws.
Cathaoirleach of the county council Paul Cuddihy said that the councillors were all united in their desire to see far more draconian measures taken against those who breach litter laws.
The council repeated its urge to member of the public to report litter and illegal dumping. The Kilkenny Litter Line is 1800-200-156, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.