Illegal dumpers are “sticking two fingers” up to Longford’s judicial system with almost half of litter fines imposed going unpaid, new figures reveal.
Just 169 out of a total of 316 financial sanctions handed out between 2020 and February this year were settled, returning an overall compliance rate of just over 53 per cent.
That resulted in 124 warning and enforcement letters being issued by environmental officials and over 40 prosecutions being enacted under the State’s Litter Pollution Acts.
The fallout from those measures coincided in over 540 tonnes of illegal rubbish being removed by Longford County Council with clean up costs and legal fees amounting to almost €180,000.
The figures are contained in a series of documents obtained by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act.
They also reveal how the local taxpayer has been left out of pocket with under five per cent or just over €4,000 being recouped by the council in hunting down illegal fly-tippers.
In a further revelation, under half, or 21 out of 43 court cases taken by the council resulted in successful prosecutions.
Concerns linked to illegal dumping has likewise been reflected in a number of complaints being lodged with housing chiefs over environmental fears across the county.
The figures show a total of 35 allegations being lodged with the council regarding suspected fly tipping, rubbish accumulation and the open burning of household waste in public areas.
Longford County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Peggy Nolan said but for the unsung efforts of volunteer groups like Longford Tidy Towns Association, the reality facing local authority chiefs would be a lot more stark.
“They are working day and night to keep our county town in the gleaming state it is in,” she said, as she led calls for the judiciary to take a tougher hand with those found guilty of illegal dumping.
“As far as I am concerned, the fines handed out are not enough. In fact, I feel so strongly about how these mindless vandals are choosing to use our countryside as a tipping point to dispose of their rubbish, they should, in my view be getting custodial sentences.”
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