Independent Shannon councillor Gerry Flynn has called on Clare County Council to include the provision of skips in local authority estates for a period during the Spring Clean campaign and an enforcement campaign to ensure householders have a legitimate means of disposing of waste and to prevent illegal dumping.

In a written reply the council’s director of service, Ann Haugh, said the provision of skips in council estates “would be in contravention of the ‘polluter-pays’ principle in waste legislation.”

However, when Cllr Flynn pointed out that the Government contributed €2 million to tackle illegal dumping across the country, the director’s view appeared to soften.

Cllr Flynn commented that Clare County Council must get serious about tackling illegal dumping. Reflecting on last year’s national Spring Clean campaign, he said 230 anti-dumping projects were led by community groups resulting in the removal of 2,800 tonnes of waste.

As chairman of the council’s Social Development SPC, which includes the brief for Housing policy, he believes that the level of compliance in the council’s housing estates could be higher.

Flynn said his reason for tabling the motion was to support the council’s environment and housing sections in line with the Government initiative.

As a former chairman of Shannon Tidy Towns committee, he personally assisted with clean-ups in the past on a number of council estates, showing a commitment to work with the residents.

Cllr Flynn acknowledged that there may be times when some people cannot afford to pay private waste collectors but for many others see it as a social duty to maintaining their community.

He explained to the council that he is seeking a collaborative approach to provide initiatives that will tackle the blight of illegal dumping.

Cllr Flynn told Ms Haugh that he is open to suggestions from the Environment Section on how to proceed and he insisted that they all have a duty to engage positively.

He expressed a hope that the directors of the housing and environmental sections would formulate a strategy, including incentives, and said he will work with them.

In support of the motion, Cllr John Crowe said illegal waste is dumped all around the county, including farmlands where landowners are left with the responsibility in law and could be prosecuted.

Cllr Ann Norton welcomed suggestions made by Cllr Flynn and said these ideas might help to resolve some of the issues.

In her response, Ann Haugh welcomed the Government’s anti-dumping initiative. She said the council has used its Household Waste Bye-laws to good effect, by going into problem areas to determine how people dispose of their waste.

Due to resource issues, Ms Haugh said the council is unable to call to every household to identify compliance but they do so when a problem area has been identified.

Ms Haugh said the council will embark on its Spring Clean campaign shortly and will facilitate groups with supplies and skips for a community clean-up.

She added, “We will be open to any approach by a community in that regard. The bottom line is that we are anxious to deal with the problem but we must be careful that a balance is struck between keeping the county clean and ensuring that everyone is treated equally”.

Ms Haugh insisted that the council is making progress in its battle against illegal dumping. In 2017 she said 1,700 complaints of illegal dumping were investigated, 131 fines were issued under the Litter Acts and a number of prosecutions were instigated.

“We’ve had some success, but it’s been an uphill struggle,” she added.