CCTV cameras with night vision are to be introduced in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains to help combat the rise in illegal dumping.
The move is to be overseen by the Protecting Uplands and Rural Environments (Pure) Project, a group which has removed almost 3,000 tonnes of litter from the area in the last 10 years.
CCTV will monitor common dumping areas such as viewing spots, car parks and entrances to forest tracks.
It is hoped the night-vision capability will allow for the identification – and prosecution – of “fly-tipping” householders who drop bags of rubbish from cars, and small lorries typically operated by small-scale illegal waste collectors.
Pure Project director Ian Davis said CCTV had been used previously on a pilot basis but that the level of fly tipping dropped significantly when the recession hit and the cost could no longer be justified.
However, it did show that CCTV could effectively identify vehicles, including registrations.
Footage used as evidence
Recent advances in technology have brought the cost of CCTV down and the group has been able to negotiate a deal on a “pay-for evidence” basis – meaning it would only pay full rates for footage which could be used as evidence, he said.
Leaving or throwing litter in a public place can incur an on-the-spot fine of €150, or a maximum fine of €3,000 on conviction in the District Court.
The Pure Project initially concentrated on removing waste that had built up over decades – known as legacy dumping – which amounted to about 450 tonnes a year.
At the height of the recession, about five years ago, this had dropped to about 200 tonnes as the legacy issue was addressed and there were fewer fly-tippers.
However, the level of waste collected this year is in the region of 230 tonnes and climbing, Mr Davis said.
Pure Project is funded by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, South Dublin and Wicklow county councils, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Coillte and the Department of Environment. The department is the single biggest contributor, providing €90,000 last year.
Minister for Environment Denis Naughten has said the grant will be maintained at “at least the same level” this year.