IFA Deputy President & Countryside Chairman Tim O’Leary has accused local authorities of failing to implement litter laws and of allowing serial dumpers to use the countryside as a tip.

Tim O’Leary said, “Our countryside is a major national asset and is also our home. Farmers take their role as custodians of the environment very seriously and are proud of rural Ireland. In the past few years billions have been invested to ensure farm-yards achieve the highest environmental standards. In addition, farm families finance the recycling of over 20,000 tonnes of farm plastic each year and through agri-environment schemes have created thousands of kilometres of hedgerows and worked with local tourist groups to develop over 2,000km of walkway trails”.

However, he said this progress continues to be undermined by the unacceptable practice of fly-tipping and dumping of rubbish by passing motorists in the countryside. In extreme cases, illegal waste collectors and rogue builders are using the countryside as a dumping ground.

Mr. O Leary asked the public and especially car users to play their part in keeping rural Ireland clean. “There is no excuse for dumping any rubbish, even as small as a plastic bottle out the window of a car. Please take your rubbish home and dispose of it properly.”

The IFA Deputy President also highlighted the failure of local authorities to adequately respond to littering complaints made by the public. “It is hard to believe that of the over 50,000 complaints that were made in one year throughout the country, local authorities such as in Cork secured only 65 prosecutions and Limerick secured just 66 prosecutions.”

“Local authorities are not stepping up to their responsibilities, with some councils including Galway failing to prosecute any individual for dumping. This hands-off attitude by local authorities must change if Ireland is to get serious about tackling the scourge of litter and dumping in the countryside.”

Tim O’ Leary has also called on the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan to change the existing legislation which places an unfair responsibility on farmers to clean up rubbish that others have dumped on their lands.