Hoarding waste is common say local authorities

Home owners do not have to prove they are disposing of their waste legally

The country’s three waste authorities are looking at by-laws to ensure that anyone producing waste is disposing of it properly. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The country’s three waste authorities are looking at by-laws to ensure that anyone producing waste is disposing of it properly. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Hoarding household waste in spare rooms, yards, sheds and attics is increasingly common, according to local authorities, who complain that they cannot demand proof that home-owners are legally getting rid of their waste.

The issue was first raised publicly in Kerry after it emerged that council workers in the county are carrying out inspections of local authority properties following complaints from neighbours and, in some cases, family members.

Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill called for “an amnesty” because some people simply cannot afford refuse charges of up to €300, or more a year, a meeting of the council’s South and West Municipal District was told.

In some cases, council workers have had to be called in to clear waste from houses, he said, adding that he had to intervene recently to deal with a rat-infested, rubbish-filled house where “the smell was awful”.

Regular inspections

Kerry County Council’s housing department has said it is “aware of some issues” and carries out inspections of properties: “We would also carry out regular inspections of areas where an incident of hoarding rubbish had previously occurred to ensure it did not develop again,” it said.

Waste collection was now privatised in Kerry and the council could not intervene in the costs associated with it, and there was no funding available to the housing department to subsidise refuse disposal costs for individual households, it also said.

Confirming that rubbish is being stored in attics, sheds and back-yards, Kerry County Council’s most senior environment official, director John Breen said: “I know this is an issue for local authorities across the country.

Growing problem

“There is a growing problem of people not availing of refuse services. There aren’t bins outside every house – there is an assumption people are going to transfer stations, but how do we know?” he said.

Statutory legislation was to have come into force last year to allow local authorities around the country to “knock on doors” to demand proof that waste is being properly dumped, but it was never enacted

Now the country’s three waste authorities are looking at by-laws to ensure “so far as possible” that “anyone producing waste is disposing of it properly”, according to the co-ordinator of the Eastern-Midlands Waste Region Hugh Coughlan.

Based in Dublin City Council, Mr Coughlan said even taking into account “bin sharing” by households, which is a phenomenon, and waste being taken by householders themselves to civic amenity sites, “there is a gap” that needs explaining.