CCTV to be weapon of choice in war on illegal dumping

CCTV cameras with night vision are to be used in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains to combat the growing problem of illegal dumping.

The move is being undertaken by the Protecting Uplands and Rural Environments (PURE) Project, a group which has removed almost 3,000 tonnes of litter from the area since being launched in September 2006.

CCTV will monitor common dumping areas such as viewing spots, car parks and entrances to forest tracks.

It is hoped the night-vision will help identify and prosecute people who throw bags of rubbish from cars, and small lorries typically operated by small-scale illegal waste collectors.

Illegal dumping in the landscape is cause for serious concern and a growing problem for many communities.

Dumping is illegal, unsightly and unnecessary, causing serious problems to habitats, species, and human health and leaving or throwing litter in a public place can incur an on-the-spot fine of €150, or a maximum fine of €3,000 on conviction in the District Court.

It pollutes water courses, damages soil nutrients, encroaches on habitat space, kills insects and animals, and is a threat to both the people who live in the area and recreational users.

Pure Project director Ian Davis said CCTV was used on a pilot basis but the level of fly tipping dropped significantly when the recession hit and the cost could no longer be justified.

However, it did show that CCTV could effectively identify vehicles, including registrations.

With advances in technology bringing the cost of CCTV down the group has been able to negotiate a deal on a “pay-for evidence” basis which means it will only pay full rates for footage used as evidence.

The Pure Project initially concentrated on removing waste that had built up over decades known as legacy dumping which amounted to about 450 tonnes a year.

At the height of the recession, about five years ago, this had dropped to about 200 tonnes as the legacy issue was addressed and there were fewer fly-tippers.

However, the level of waste collected this year is in the region of 230 tonnes and climbing, Mr Davis said.

Pure Project is funded by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, South Dublin and Wicklow county councils, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Coillte and the Department of Environment.

The department is the single biggest contributor, providing €90,000 last year.