'Naming and shaming' those who litter being discussed

Due to the rules of GDPR, the policy around naming and shaming those who illegally dump has so far been prohibited, but this could be about to change.

At a recent meeting of the Environment strategic policy committee of Westmeath County Council, Cllr Hazel Smith said she had written to seek clarity if an exception could be made for acts such as illegal dumping.

Director of services Martin Murray told the meeting how, because of an escalation in calls for 'naming and shaming' from all regions, a discussion on a modification to the legislation is currently being discussed.

"Westmeath County Council will follow the advice, and incorporate any subsequent policy once it becomes available," he said.

The topic was raised as part of a discussion on the Litter Management Plan, which senior executive engineer Ciaran Jordan told the meeting had gone to public consultation, and would now go before the Municipal District for approval.

Chair of the meeting, Cllr Frank McDermott called for the installation of CCTV to prevent littering in certain areas while Cllr Paddy Hill said signage stating that CCTV was in operation, had had the desired effect on the bog road near him, which once was a go-to area for illegal dumping.

Cllr Hazel Smith agreed that CCTV was useful, but argued that resources on the ground was even better.

"We need the resources - the people on the ground, litter wardens and inspectors to work on preventative measures and not just for cleaning up when the mess it's made," the Green Party councillor stated.

Smith also questioned the lack of bins along the greenway, particularly with regard to dog fouling.

"I get asked all the time why there's no bins, and when you're walking for kilometers and kilometers, people can't be expected to carry doggy poo bags for that length," she argued.

While it emerged the council's environment section is currently looking into the roll out of bins along the Greenway, she was told they also operate "any bag, any bin" policy. Meanwhile, director of services Mr Murray added: "We can't have bins, bins and more bins, it's up to the dog owner to be responsible."