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Saturday, 17th October 2020

Drogheda is ‘clean to European norms’ but drops 14 places in litter league

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West Street was found to be "...very good with regard to litter and  very well served by litter bins."

Covid crisis has seen more dumping, outdoor socialising and PPE litter

The first nationwide litter survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) since the Covid-19 crisis shows a dramatic fall in the number of towns and cities deemed to be ‘clean’, to its lowest level since 2007.

Drogheda, whilst it retained its classification as “clean to European norms” has slipped from seventh place out of 40 towns and cities to 21st place this year.

Kilkenny was again judged best of the 40 towns and cities surveyed, with ‘seriously littered’ Dublin North Inner City at the bottom of the table. The survey showed PPE litter to be widespread and a rise in the prevalence of cans and glass bottles.     

“The rise in litter levels this year is across the board,” says IBAL’s Conor Horgan. “The Covid crisis has seen more dumping, more outdoor socialising, especially drinking, and PPE litter, but less cleaning by local authorities and less activity by volunteers like Tidy Towns –  a perfect storm, in many ways, which has brought us to the worst position we’ve been in in over 10 years.” 

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In the fight against Covid-19, local authorities have curtailed cleaning schedules and diverted resources to other areas. At the same time, households have been generating more litter during lockdown and there has been a visible increase in drinking outdoors as pubs are closed, a fact borne out by the rise in bottles and cans found by the An Taisce inspectors.

“In these exceptional times, when councils’ resources are stretched, civic responsibility is called for more than ever,” says Conor Horgan. “The mantra ‘we’re all in this together’ extends to the proper disposal of waste, not least waste that is prone to contamination.  With fewer people available or willing to pick up litter, the message has to be ‘don’t litter in the first place.’”

In response to the survey results, Louth County Council said that while Drogheda is ‘clean to European norms’, with seven of the ten sites surveyed receiving the top litter grade, it will review the situation at Westgate House which was noted as the most heavily littered area in Drogheda. The Council is in the process of procuring this site which they say will result in better management of this area in the future.

Judge's Report

A welcome improvement for Drogheda, with seven of the ten sites surveyed receiving the top litter grade. These included the approach roads, the River Bank, West Street (very attractive streetscape) and Old Abbey Lane, which deserves a special mention as it has been transformed into a lovely environment from a pretty poor state some years ago.

By far the most heavily littered site was ‘Westgate House’ a derelict building which had heavy accumulations of a wide variety of litter.

R150 Mornington Approach: Grade A

A tidy impression was created along this route, with no visible litter issues. This high standard was sustained for well over half of the sites surveyed in Drogheda.

Bank of River: Grade A. Attractive planting lines the bank of the river and the built environment was in good order e.g. black seating, street bins, signage and sculpture. There was a virtual absence of litter in the area surveyed.

Derelict Building, Westgate House: Grade C

The front / façade of this boarded up building presents reasonably well, with efforts made to take away the ‘bare look’. The area to the rear tells a completely different story – heavy levels of a wide variety of food related items and cardboard were all present. Attention is required before this become a dumping ground. Background environmental indicators were poor e.g. graffiti, fly-posting, poorly maintained grass/ shrubbery areas, weed etc.

Trinity Street: Grade B

There was a definite litter presence along Trinity Street with sweet papers, fast-food wrappers and plastic bottles the most obvious litter items, along with cans. Face masks and gloves (Covid items) were both featured along Trinity Street. The boarded-up property (with graffiti) presented poorly.

West Street: Grade A

The paving along West Street creates a very clean impression and this is further enhanced by bicycle parking, litter bins, hanging baskets, bollards etc.. West Street was very good with regard to litter and it is very well served by litter bins.

St. Lawrence Street: Grade A

A commendable environment, not quite spotless but not marred by litter either.

Recycle Facility in Palace Street Car Park: Grade C

The shrubbery surrounding the signage relating to the use of this facility was overgrown and covered much of the large signage. This is kind of indicative of the overall management of the facility, with many of the units full / overflowing, significant accumulations of loose items to the rear and bags of discarded rubbish.

Old Abbey Lane: Grade A

A hugely improved environment which now has attractive paving, some planter boxes and a general air of maintenance compared to some years ago. It was excellent with regard to litter. Even the boarded up properties didn’t look too badly.

N1 Dublin Approach Road: Grade A

There were no major litter issues to report along this route. N51 connecting road with Navan: Grade A. There didn’t appear to be any visible litter along this route.

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