Litter is any object (whether or not intended as waste) (but not waste lawfully consigned for disposal) which when deposited anywhere other than in a litter bin or other designated place, is likely to become unsightly, nauseous, unsanitary or deleterious either by itself or in combination with other material.
Local authorities must ensure that public roads are kept free of litter. They must make arrangements for emptying and cleaning litter bins. They must take steps to prevent the creation and to overcome the pollutant effects of litter in their areas. Local authorities may make bye-laws in relation to litter.
Local authorities must make litter management plans and review them every three years. They must publish certain information in relation to the plan. As with other similar plans, there is provision for public involvement. The plans must follow ministerial guidelines. There is provision for publication and public observations, in the making of the litter management plan. The plan must be reviewed periodically. Regard must be had to the development plan.
Various Litter Offences
It is an offence to load, transport, unload or handle materials or things in such a way as to create litter or lead to litter in a public place or any place visible from a public place.
It is an offence to interfere with a litter bin provided by a local authority or another person, unless authorised by the authority or the person who provides it.
It is an offence to deposit any substance so as to create litter in a public place or in a place visible to the public. Waste may not be deposited for collection in such a way as to create litter. It is permissible to deposit litter in a litter receptacle or receptacle for collection by the local authority or permit holder or at a civic waste facility.
A person in charge of a vehicle, must not allow litter from the vehicle onto a public road. A person in charge of a skip must ensure that measures are taken to prevent the creation of litter in the vicinity. Operators of mobile outlets have obligation to provide bins and other receptacles. They are responsible for litter arising within a certain radius. Additional requirements may be made by the local authority. Breach of the legislation is an offence.
Dog faeces must be immediately removed and disposed of when deposited in a public place. This also applies to certain other places such as schools, sports grounds, recreational or leisure places or the curtilage of a dwelling house unless the person concerned has consented to the presence of the dog.
The dog faeces provisions do not apply to police dogs or dogs herding livestock. The provision does not apply to guide dogs.
Duties of Occupiers
The occupier of a public place has a duty to keep it free from litter. There is a duty to keep other places free from litter to the extent that is visible from a public place. The duty is on the owner in the case of land serving building which is in more than two units.
An occupier of land in a public area where there is a speed limit is obliged to keep the footway adjoining his land free of litter and any area of land forming part of the public roadway between the footpath and roadway free from litter. Failure to comply is an offence.
The local authority may serve and enforce cleanup notices in relation to prohibited advertisements and structures defaced by graffiti and other marks etc. Non-compliance is an offence. The local authority may clean up the structures or remove the offending material and charge the cost to the owner or occupier in default.
The local authority may make requirements in relation to litter caused by major events. Notices may issue with requirements in relation to the management of litter and its impact on the environment. Conditions may be imposed to mitigate litter. The local authority may undertake remedial works and charge the cost to the promoters.
Local authorities have comprehensive powers to make bye-laws in relation to litter. They may regulate mobile outlets. They may require measures by certain classes of premises to limit the creation of litter and provide for removal.
They may place obligations on owners and managers of businesses or class of persons in relation to washing the public area outside the premises. They may regulate the use and provision of supermarket trolleys. They may require promoters of events to be attended by significant numbers to take measures to limit the creation of litter.
Litter laws may be enforced by An Garda Siochana. The local authority may also employ litter wardens. Litter wardens may request persons whom they reasonably suspect of having committed an offence to give their name and address. If they are not satisfied with identity, they can require them to go to the local authority office or Garda station. It is an offence to fail to comply.
A litter warden may request the assistance of a member of An Garda Siochana. A Garda may arrest a person has committed an offence under the legislation without a warrant. There are powers to impose on the spot fines / administrative penalties. Persons can be prosecuted if they do not pay within the relevant period.
A litter warden or the member of Garda Siochana may levy an “on the spot” fine. If it is not paid within 21 days, a prosecution may ensue. If the contents of litter deposited in contravention of the Litter Act gives rise to a reasonable suspicion as to the identity of the person from whom it emanated, this may constitute evidence which is deemed sufficient in the absence of contradiction.
Legal action may not be maintained against a local authority, litter warden, officer, employee of the local authority or Garda Síochána for damages in respect of injury, loss to property or persons arising out of the exercise of Litter Act powers.
Litter Enforcement Notice
A local authority may serve a litter enforcement notice indicating that manner in which the legislation is being contravened and requiring steps to be taken to remediate the position. The person must comply with the notice within the time specified. The person may make representations in relation to the notice.
After receiving representations the local authority may amend the notice. It is an offence not to comply. The local authority may take steps to enforce the notice itself in which event the cost may be recovered.
The maximum possible penalties for conviction on indictment is €130,000 plus €10,000 per day or €3,000 summary conviction and €600 per day. Unless the Court is otherwise satisfied, the offender must pay the local authority’s costs and expenses.
Local Authorities & Waste Collection
Larger local authorities must provide facilities for the recovery and disposal of household waste within their functional areas. Planning authorities and Bord Pleanála must assure that reasonable measures are taken, so as to secure appropriate provision for waste management, particularly for recyclable material within developments, including facilities for the storage, separation and collection of waste and recyclable materials.
Local authorities may provide facilities including civic waste facilities, facilities of segregation, mixing, storage, treatment of waste, recovery of waste and the disposal of waste other than household waste. They are not obliged to provide the above facilities for commercial and industrial waste, although they may do so.
A local authority may agree with others, including other local authorities, to provide for the disposal of waste. The local authority or the EPA may, if they consider necessary, subject to conditions as may be prescribed, require holders of classes of waste other than household waste, dispose or arrange for its disposal in such manner and such conditions as are specified. Failure to do so is an offence. Questions have arisen as to whether the compulsory use of a particular waste provider might be contrary to competition law.
Local authorities may prescribe conditions for the disposal of waste at their facilities. Breach of the conditions or bye-laws is an offence. Local authorities must take steps to bring the conditions to the public’s attention. Steps may be taken to enforce the rules, including by the recovery of costs against offenders.
Waste Collection Services
Local authorities are obliged to arrange or provide facilities for household waste disposal and recovery. A local authority is not obliged to collect waste unless it is presented in the specified manner, relevant charges are paid, any substance or material prohibited is included. Local authorities’ obligations in respect of household waste do not apply where there is an adequate alternative service available in any part of their jurisdiction, where the costs would be unreasonably high or where the council is satisfied the owner may make arrangements for waste disposal himself.
Local Authorities have the discretion to provide other waste disposal and recovery facilities. They are not obliged to provide facilities for commercial and industrial wastes. There is an exception in respect of end of life vehicles. They may collect non-domestic waste.
The local authority is responsible for waste, once it is lawfully taken into its custody. It is an offence to remove or interfere with anything deposited as waste or to obstruct or interfere with the collection of waste. Local authorities may make bylaws in relation to waste collection. These may deal with segregation of waste, the locations and times for collecting waste and the methods of collecting charges. The local authority is not obliged to collect the waste which does not comply with the bylaws.
A local authority may charge for providing waste. This is a matter for the county manager rather than the elected members. Where a premises comprises more than one dwelling the owner is liable for the charge. Generally, the service charge is payable by and recoverable from the recipient of the service or where provided for premises, the occupier. Charges may be waived on the grounds of hardship. The council may take legal action to recover the charges as a debt. Requirements can be made showing proof of payment such as a tag etc.
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