Dáil Éireann - Volume 500 - 10 February, 1999

Written Answers. - Litter Pollution.

[495] 162. Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if he has satisfied himself that local authorities and the gardaí are implementing the laws in relation to litter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3762/99]

163. Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if he will list and itemise the action, if any, he has taken with regard to litter since coming into office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3763/99]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Wallace): I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 163 together.

The Litter Pollution Act, 1997, which came into operation on 1 July 1997, provides the necessary legislative framework to deal with the problem of litter and graffiti. Under the Act, the primary management and enforcement response must come from the local authorities. Information on the implementation of the Act is set out in the reply to Question No. 151 of 3 December 1998.

Since taking up office, I have pursued the following programme of action to combat litter pollution. In the second half of 1997, I undertook, through my Department, a factual information campaign to inform the general public of their duties and responsibilities under the 1997 Act. This included the printing and circulation to local authorities and the general public of an information leaflet about the new litter laws, the supply of generic advertising material to local authorities and an information campaign on local radio. In September 1997, my colleague, Minister Dempsey commissioned a second national litter survey which was presented to my Department in December, 1997. This survey was a follow-up to the initial survey carried out in October 1995, and it has been used by me in targeting action against litter. I have allocated almost £650,000 in grants to local authorities between 1997 and 1998 to co-fund selected public education and awareness initiatives on litter.

I am developing a national litter pollution monitoring system to monitor and assess local authority litter management and enforcement action, which will become operational in the first half of 1999. The system will also help to identify and eliminate litter blackspots. Local authorities will be able to use the data produced to review needs and priorities at local level to prevent and control litter, and to target appropriate action to implement them.

I am providing financial support for An Taisce led project, National Spring Clean 1999 in April 1999, a broad based partnership approach, co-sponsored by national and local government, an NGO and major private sector companies, to [496] raise public awareness and participation in anti-litter initiatives at local level to clean up the local environment. The project includes a central role for local authorities.

I am stepping up the promotion of anti-litter awareness among young people, in co-operation with the Department of Education and Science and through an anti-litter campaign for primary schools for the 1998/1999 school year developed by ENFO. I met all local authority managers in June-July 1998 to reinforce the need for strong action to tackle the litter pollution problem.

I take every possible opportunity to urge local authorities to make full use of their powers under the 1997 Act to combat litter. My Department's provision for litter awareness activities for 1999 has increased to £526,000 and we will be working with local authorities, businesses and the educational sector to secure effective implementation of the range of ongoing measures and to develop new initiatives. Since 1 January this year, local authorities can also deploy some of the additional resources now available under the local government fund to bolster their anti-litter operations.