By Kieran O’Mahony
‘OUTLAW mentality’. That’s how a member of Bandon Angling Association describes those who continue to dump rubbish at a popular natural amenity site just outside Bandon.
What is ironic is that this area is just down the road from Bandon Civic Amenity Site (CAS) at Knockavede that serves the surrounding area, and yet rubbish lies in the ditches of both sides of the road.
And it’s not a new development, either. The situation was so bad in recent weeks that several members of the Bandon Angling Association took to collecting all the rubbish bags that had been dumped at the entrance to Cottage Walk which seems to be a popular place for fly-tipping.
‘This is a popular spot for walkers, trekkers and ourselves, and it’s the main access point for a lot of the fishing down there and from our point of view it’s an easy target for people dumping. What we’re trying to say is for people to be more vigilant and report anyone they see dumping in the area. It’s becoming chronic out in the countryside here,’ said Fergal O’Regan, youth officer with Bandon Angling Association speaking to The Southern Star.
‘I don’t know if many people have been taken to task about it and it would be good to see people getting on-the-spot fines. It was a concerted effort between three or four of us for a few hours on morning and we then tied in with Cork County Council who collected the rubbish from there the following Monday morning.’
‘It doesn’t send out the right message for tourism and it’s an awful eyesore for people using amenities in the area. A lot of people turn a blind eye to it but for others, like myself who like to use these areas, it would be nice to look after it as it’s a natural amenity and a focal point for the town. Maybe if more were fined, it would send out a warning to others.’
Unfortunately Fergal’s story is one of many from around West Cork where fly-tipping, dumping and littering are part and parcel of life in the area. Despite concerted effort sby litter wardens and Cork County Council to combat the problem through fines and enforcements, it doesn’t seem to be hitting home to some whocontinue to litter and dump rubbish.
It was only recently while driving to Skibbereen that I began to notice the cut hedges which had been seriously overgrow for a long time. While welcoming the much-needed cutting, it did unfortunately expose the serious amounts of rubbish that had presumably been hidden under the growth. Thrown from cars no doubt, there seems to be a mish mash of cartons, cans, plastic bags and anything else that drivers felt the need to throw out the window of their cars. In fact, it wasn’t just on one road, the trail of rubbish followed me all the way to the office like a bad, stinking smell.
One can only imagine what visiting tourists think when they hit West Cork and drive along the coastal route this summer, or take on the Wild Atlantic Way that tourism bosses are putting so much emphasis on. Is this the image of West Cork that we want to portray? And what is it with Irish people and litter? Commentators have often said that it’s a historical thing going back to being colonised by the English – we like to break the rules, now that we can. But I don’t know if that’s really an explanation.
Education is no doubt key to the problem and thank God schools these days are instilling a sense of civic pride in their students. It’s reassuring to see so many schools get engaged in the Green Flag initiative and learn about recycling and Tidy Towns projects.
Cork County Council are also planning to introduce special litter squads to tackle the problem of illegal dumping following a number of pilot schemes in East Cork last year. It is expected that these squads will respond to complaints of fly tipping from the public.