Kilkenny tops anti-litter league as inner-city Dublin falters

Published by Niall Sargent on

January 6th, 2020

Kilkenny is the cleanest of 40 towns and cities across Ireland for a record fourth time, according to the latest annual anti-litter survey from Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL).

The findings from the survey, carried out by An Taisce on behalf of the business group, placed Killarney, Co Kerry in second place, followed by Swords in Co Dublin. Galway edged out Waterford to claim its place as Ireland’s cleanest city.

Despite the IBAL findings as to the cleanliness of Kilkenny town itself, a recent investigation from Noteworthy revealed that residual limestone aggregate remains in the protected River Nore following construction of St Francis Bridge in 2014.

Data collected by IBAL shows that over the past decade, there as a 13 per cent reduction in litter levels in city centres. Litter in towns has remained constant over the same period, with 21 of 27 towns inspected in 2019 deemed clean.

Not everywhere faired so well, however, with the survey pointing to littering issues in the Galvone area of Co Limerick, as well as Ballymun in Co Dublin and the Northside area of Co Cork where only one of 25 sites surveyed was deemed clean.

According to Conor Horgan of IBAL, there was an unwelcome increase in isolated heavily littered sites within many towns in 2019. “Citizens and tidy towns groups need to push local authorities to focus on these sites and ensure they are clean for when IBAL revisits them in 2020.”   Sweet wrappers, chewing gum and cigarette butts remain the most common forms of litter on our streets.

Examples include a litter blackspot at the Gorey Sports and Leisure Centre Car Park in Co Wexford, where dumped items comprised a child’s cot, baby buggy and children’s toys. According to Mr Horgan, a litter blackspot at Breaden’s Lane in Co Longford was “a dumping ground with a shocking level of items discarded”.

Dublin’s north inner city found itself at the foot of the ranking, recording its worst showing in years and was branded as “seriously littered” in the survey.  “The dearth of clean sites in this area was striking,” the survey found with dumping evident at many sites including Aldborough Place, Crinian Strand, and North Great Clarence Street.

IBAL has surveying disadvantaged city areas over the past five years with little reduction in litter witnessed during the period. “Unfortunately, the gap in cleanliness between these neglected areas and the high-profile city centres is not closing,” Mr Horgan said.

IBAL is offering to facilitate the setting up of a pilot programme to recycle butts in Kilkenny, as winner of the League. In addition, a number of trees will be planted courtesy of The Tree Centre in Fermoy.

The Minister for the Environment, Richard Bruton TD today congratulated Kilkenny for topping the list while expressing disappointment that there is a “less consistent picture across our towns”.

“Despite some star performers like Kilkenny, Killarney and Swords, some have slipped backwards,” Mr Bruton said, pointing to a planned new strategy on waste.

The Department of Climate Action and Environment is seeking views on the development of the new Waste Action Plan for Ireland as part of the move to a more Circular Economy model.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London