Cllr Antóin Watters Welcomes Positive Council Response on Waste Awareness

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has welcomed the response from Louth County Council to his recent motion on the issue at the September meeting.

Cllr Watters said “following the increase in illegal dumping in the north of the County, I put forward a motion asking that Louth Council initiate a county wide awareness campaign to highlight the issue but more importantly to ensure the public are aware of their own responsibilities and the danger to themselves if they use unlicensed waste collectors.”

Cllr Watters explained, “For example, if I pay ‘a man with a van’ to take away a mattress and maybe a settee or some other items and he dumps them at a beauty spot in the Cooley mountains, I am responsible because those items are mine and I did not use someone who holds a waste collection permit. I am responsible and can face fines even though I employed someone in good faith to take away my rubbish.”

“I don’t believe that the public in general are aware this is the law so I have asked for an awareness campaign similar to the one implemented by Meath County Council. I welcome the positive response which stated “The Council’s Environmental Awareness section will liaise with colleagues in Meath County Council to ascertain the effectiveness of their billboard campaign and seek to replicate same if this has proven to have been a successful initiative.

In the meantime, Cllr Watters asked that citizens “use only those waste collectors that hold the appropriate permits and that way you will know exactly where your rubbish is going to end up. Remember, your rubbish, your responsibility.”

Watters: Cross Border Action on Waste is Needed

Cllrs Mickey Larkin & Antóin Watters

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has welcomed the motion before Newry Mourne & Down District Council (NMDDC) by his Sinn Féin colleague Mickey Larkin.

Cllr Watters who has been to the forefront of the issue said “fly tipping and dumping of toxic materials like tyres and building rubble is a scourge that we can’t ignore. This motion urges greater cooperation between the NMDDC and Louth County Council (LCC). This scourge is relentless and is blighting the Cooley, Mourne and Gullion regions.”

Cllr Watters said “the Slieve Gullion area has the highest level of fly-tipping in the North and I would go as far as to say Cooley and North Louth possibly have one of the highest levels in the South. Because of this, Cllr Mickey Larkin and I have been working closely together on this in an effort to tackle this issue which is a drain on the tax payers finances. Be under no illusion, it is you and I, the average tax payer, who are picking up the tab for these criminals who have no regard for our communities or countryside.”

The Motion by NMDDC mirrors a similar one brought by Cllr Watters to LCC.

Copy of Cllr Mickey Larkin’s Motion

Cllr Watters said “the motion is calling for increased cooperation between NMDDC and Louth County Council in an effort to tackle the issue.  It is also calling for a review of penalties for dumping to reflect the increasing costs to the Council and Rate Payers of the Council district.”

Further actions agreed by the Councillors in NMDDC were:

  • the Council contacting both Louth County Council and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council with a view to addressing fly tipping in a unified way;
  • addressing enforcement action in conjunction with the NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency)
  • to carry out a fly tipping review and market the message of zero tolerance
  • to write to the relevant Department raising concerns and requesting prompt action.”

Cllr Watters concluded by saying “we can not let this continue. We need a joined up and multi-agency approach on this issue and make sure that the ordinary citizens are aware of their responsibility in waste disposal. The polluters are the ones who should be made pay, not the ordinary public.”

Carlingford Can’t Be Without A Tourist Office – Cllr Watters

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has sought information from Louth County Council regarding the future of Carlingford’s Tourist Office.

The tourist Office in the village closed recently leaving the area with nowhere for tourists to visit for information.

Cllr Watters said “Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula are bustling with visitors and tourists from all over the world who come to see the stunning scenery and to experience the wealth of history in the area going back 800 years. In 2008 we received Europe’s Destination of Excellence Award and quite deservedly so. We have grown from strength to strength and yet, we no longer have a Tourist Office.”

Cllr Watters said “no matter where tourists go, their first port of call is always to the local tourist office to pick up maps and find out where the local areas of interest are or to get information on where to stay etc. It is essential that Carlingford, being a tourist hub for the North East, provides that service. It is unacceptable that we are left without one and this needs to be redressed as soon as possible.”

“Following the abrupt closure of Carlingford Tourist Office, I have received numerous calls from parties who would be interested in leasing the building itself. It is essential that this building, which is in a prime location in Carlingford Village, remains in use and I have no doubt that there are many local businesses and groups who will be interested in leasing it.”

“In the meantime I will be contacting the Tourism Board to find out the reasons behind the sudden closure and to ascertain any plans for re-opening it albeit at a different location.”

Cllr Antóin Watters: Good Weather Attracts Bad Habits

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has asked people to take care of the beach and leave it as you find it. This request comes after the councillor received numerous complaints from local people around Templetown Beach as people have flocked to it with the good weather.

Cllr Watters said “No one wants to ruin anyone’s fun in this weather but I’m asking people to respect the beach and clean up after yourself. There has been an increase in the number of BBQ sets and plastic containers left on the beach. You wouldn’t dream of leaving these lying around if your BBQ was in your back garden so why leave them behind somewhere else? We are all aware of the danger of plastic to the seas and oceans.”

Horse fouling on beach

Cllr Watters has also received several complaints about horses on the beach. “There are strict bye-laws regarding horses on blue flag beaches and that includes Templetown Beach. Horses are not allowed on the beach between 10:00 – 18:00 during the summer months according to the Control of Horses Act.  The reasons for these bye-laws are obvious, especially if we are enjoying the kind of weather we have had lately. When a beach is busy, as Templetown has been recently, it becomes dangerous to have horses on the beach. These horses are putting people at risk of serious injury, not to mention the fouling that is taking place which isn’t fair on other beach users.”

Take your BBQ and rubbish home with you

The fixed penalty for breach of these bye-laws is €63 and Councillor Watters has been in contact with Council officials and Gardaí this morning. “I have requested additional signage to be erected at Templetown Beach to inform people of the restrictions and asked the Gardaí to be extra vigilant for enforcement. Members of the Public should also notify the Gardaí of any breaches. Let’s keep the beach safe for everyone to enjoy.”

Cllr Antóin Watters Calls For Pro-Active Approach to Dumping

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has requested that Louth County Council to explore the option of installing height restriction barriers at litter hot spots in North Louth.

Cllr Watters made the request at this month’s Municipal meeting in Dundalk following and escalation in dumping incidents around North Louth since Christmas.

Councillor Watters said “since Christmas we have had tyres and building rubble dumped which are very costly to remove. While I welcome the funding for the County from the Government’s Dept of Climate Action and Environment through their Anti-Dumping Initiative (ADI), it is not going to solve the problem.”

In April Minister Denis Naughtan TD announced Louth would receive €76,300.

Antóin Watters explained that this sum was to cover the whole county and included Carrickarnon Laneway, Ravensdale. “I spent last weekend helping in the annual spring clean at Rathcor. The spirit and pride of the community in their area was evident as it is in other areas. People who are dumping rubbish are not wanted in the area. They do not care about the people or the area.”

Antoin Watters at Rathcor Clean up

“This money from the ADI will be used up just cleaning up after these people. We need to think more long-term and be more pro-active in tackling this issue once and for all. This is a war on dumping. We need to fund initiatives like amnesties for tyres and larger items like mattresses or suites of furniture. We need to make it difficult for dumpers to drive their vans to these hotspots and that’s where the height restriction barriers would help. We could use CCTV at these spots and even drone technology.”

Councillor Watters has been liaising with Louth County Council and Coillte on an on-going basis since Christmas on this issue and said “Coillte removed a further 260 tyres from its land last week and that is eating into their already tight budget. They shouldn’t have to spend their budget or their time on cleaning up rubbish, they were established for forestry works and illegal dumping is taking them away from that.”

Councillor Watters also said “the greatest resource that we have against these people are the communities themselves. I would again appeal to people to remain vigilant. If they see anyone dumping or if they see strange vehicles acting suspiciously around litter hotspots take note of them and report them to Louth County Council.”

“This is our county, our area, our community and we are proud of it. We are not going to let people treat it like their own personal rubbish tip. The money spent on cleaning up after these despicable people could be better spent elsewhere.”