Shocking pictures of mattresses, deck chairs and household waste dumped on Bettystown Beach have sparked outrage from residents and local representatives in the coastal town and calls are being made for people to ensure that the waste removal services they acquire are authorised permit holders.
The discovery was made on Wednesday morning and The Bettystown, Laytown and Mornington Beach Management Committee chairman Alan Watson says that illegal dumping on the beach is nothing new.
"It's absolutely disgusting and it's terrible to think that people are actually engaging with unlicenced waste collectors who are dumping rubbish on our beaches," he comments, adding "It's incredibly disheartening but it's disheartening on a daily basis when you see cars driving away and leaving an array of rubbish behind. We also have an issue with domestic waste left on the beach and that makes it difficult for the Beach Management Committee to encourage the council to put more bins on the beach when people are actually putting domestic waste there as well."
Mattresses, deckchairs and household waste dumped on the beach
Cllr Eimear Ferguson says much of the responsibility lies with people who call on the services of waste collectors.
"This kind of dumping is usually done by ‘A man with a van’ or similar, offering to remove materials from households cheaply. Most of them do not have a waste permit, which they need and they can show where it was disposed of correctly and legally," she says, adding,
" It is up to each person giving their waste to someone else to ask to see their waste permit. A company conforming to regulations will not mind you asking and will have no problem showing it. If they don’t have one, don’t give the waste to them. Most of the ads you see on social media offering to dispose of waste are people without a waste permit and they will take it and dump it anywhere."
The Beach Management Committee organise the clean up for the beach on the second Saturday of every month but more manpower and resources are needed according to the committee chairman, Alan Watson.
The Beach Management Committee posts updates of their clean up efforts
"There are times where there are only three people there, that's disappointing too yet people are quite vocal when it comes to complaining about the dirt on the beach not when it actually comes to acting upon it. If we had the volunteers putting into practise the things that they are complaining about it would be a super beach."
Mr Watson praises The Tidy Towns committee in Bettystown, Laytown and Mornington and the residents who also get involved with beach cleanups.
"It's unfortunate that a lot of it falls on the community and we don't have the sufficient resources to educate and maintain the beach the way it should be maintained. It would be no harm having CCTV recording cars entering the beach. It might be difficult to record activity on the beach but certainly identifying cars going on the beach would be beneficial. It's really about education and enforcement. Having a beach warden 12 months of the year is ultimately what's required," he says.
Meath County Council is left to clean up the mess
"Taking part in the beach clean up is very enjoyable because you are giving something back. Everyone gets pleasure and enjoyment from the beach and the litter picks are about giving back and making sure we pass on that enjoyment to others. All that we are trying to do is create the habit on the second Saturday of every month. We would love to be able to tackle the dunes because they are particularly bad but we never have the sufficient manpower to do that each month."
The Beach Management Committee recently shared a number of videos on its Facebook page showing the anti-social behaviour resulting from cars on the beach including cars getting stuck and towed away, dangerous driving and copious bags of rubbish left behind by beach users in vehicles.
"They are videos that are available to the world on youtube. It's not unusual for waste to be dumped at night time and unfortunately, the beach can become a racetrack at night too. We get cars burnt out on a regular basis. I hope it raises awareness to the activities that do go on on the beach that need to be curtailed," according to Mr Watson, he also added,
" What shocked me from some of those clips was how busy the beach was at the time and there was no enforcement. You just hope that someone isn't seriously injured someday. The Beach Management Plan that the council passed is phased removal of cars as and when suitable alternatives are found that means they'll need alternatives or facilities for people with disabilities, families and the elderly so that could mean that they will be still on the beach. Management of traffic on the beach is a big issue. If they could solve the commuter parking they'd also solve the beach parking."