A Cork councillor has backed a campaign by Senator Mark Wall to change the law so that CCTV can be used by local authorities to tackle illegal dumping.
Labour Councillor John Maher said that the practice of illegal dumping continues to damage natural environments throughout the country and that councils “must be empowered to address such harmful behaviour”.
The Cork City North-East councillor said that there are areas within his ward where illegal dumping “is causing untold damage to our environment”.
“Illegal dumping can potentially cause severe problems for those in rural areas, including preventing flood waters from draining effectively, and local authorities must be empowered to address this.
“The Labour Party has asked the Minister to investigate this, and our Senator Mark Wall has also prepared a new draft law that would address these concerns around data protection and GDPR.
“Councils have to be authorised by law to allow the processing of personal data such as the gathering and using of images of identifiable individuals by CCTV to use as evidence in the prosecution of dumping cases,” he said.
Following a recent case of illegal dumping on the northside of the city where residents suggested the use of CCTV, a spokesperson for Cork City Council’s Parks and Recreation Department said that “depending on the circumstances, CCTV may not prove effective”.
“In a similar area previously, CCTV was not effective as people covered faces when dumping rubbish and it made no difference to the problem,” the spokesperson said.
Cllr Maher said, however, that “being able to identify the culprits through the use of CCTV is a deterrent to this behaviour”.
“Some local authorities are now reporting 40 to 50 incidents of illegal dumping each week, many of these are at locations which have just recently been cleaned at a cost to us all.
“Cleaning up illegal dumping is costing councils millions that could instead be invested in public services and amenities like our parks,” Cllr Maher said.
“The Minister needs to take a common sense approach to this problem, and a balance between privacy and the common good must be struck,” he said.