The final litter survey of 2015, carried out by Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL), shows Letterkenny has slipped to ‘moderately littered’, in 36th spot among the 40 towns surveyed. The town was ranked 11th in the 2014 rankings.
There was a slight fall-off in the number of litter-free towns across Ireland, but no towns were deemed ‘litter blackspots’ and only one was ‘seriously littered’. The winning town will be announced at a function at lunchtime today (Monday) in Buswells Hotel in Dublin.
An Taisce report for Letterkenny stated: “The poor sites in Letterkenny didn’t get this way overnight, for example, the Wasteland at the rear of Letterkenny Retail Park (Grade D) and the Overflow Car Park beside it (Grade C). The moderately littered sites could easily get the top litter grade with a little extra effort – Lui na Greine and Sligo Approach Road.”
Three quarters of the towns and cities surveyed by An Taisce on behalf of IBAL were found to be Clean to European Norms, a fall of 15% on last year. Likewise, the number of towns deemed Cleaner than European Norms fell from 17 to 12. However, the most littered areas have improved, with Farranree in Cork no longer a litter blackspot and Dublin’s North Inner City shedding its ‘seriously littered’ tag. The cities of Limerick, Galway and Cork were all clean, with Waterford deemed Cleaner than European Norms.
Drogheda, Dun Laoghaire, Dungarvan, Longford and last year’s winner Kilkenny are vying for the title of Ireland’s cleanest town, to be revealed later today.
“After a decade of year-on-year improvement, it is disappointing to see the very high standards achieved by towns slip in a number of cases,“ comments Conor Horgan of IBAL.
“We may be witnessing the effect of the disappearance of town councils, or we may be getting slightly complacent. At the same time, we can say the great majority of our towns are clean. Also, it is heartening to see the problem city areas getting better – if only slowly.”
Across the country, recycling facilities (invariably the responsibility of the county council) and disused or abandoned sites were the sites most prone to litter, with two thirds found to be littered or worse, followed by promenades and river walks.
“As the economy recovers, there are signs that the number of vacant or disused sites is declining, which augers well for a clean environment,” says Horgan. “In other instances we have seen abandoned sites being put to novel uses, such as inner city gardens. We would like to see more of this, as the benefit it brings to the community can go well beyond cleanliness.”
Connecting routes between towns were more littered than the towns themselves. The route from Killarney to Tralee was heavily littered, and brought down the town’s ranking. The Naas-Dublin road suffered from ‘persistent litter’.