LOCAL Councillors have warned that Waterford is at risk of an illegal dumping epidemic if proposed new plans for bin charges proceed.
Opposition is continuing to mount to proposed changes to waste collection which are due to come into effect in September.
Waste collectors will be allowed to offer a range of pricing plans – such as standing, per-lift or per-kilogramme charges, as well as weight-bands or weight allowance charges.
The Government has left it up to disposal companies to set rates.
Experts suggest that customers who currently pay a flat-rate fee, around half of all households, can expect to be hit.
The problematic issue of illegal dumping is one of the biggest issues faced by Councillors on Waterford City & County Council and is discussed at almost every plenary and district meeting of the local authority.
Cllr Davy Daniels (Ind) has continually expressed concerns in relation to bin charges since Waterford City & County Council voted to scrap its bin collection service in 2014 and abolish the bin waiver.
He says people who are already strapped for cash can “ill afford” new charges.
“While the charge may initially be relatively small, as we all know, there is always the danger of costs increasing significantly,” he said.
He expressed particular concerns for senior citizens and also highlighted the current scale of dumping in Waterford.
“Despite the best efforts of Council staff, particularly in the Environment Section, dealing with littering and illegal dumping remains a mammoth task,” he said.
“The issue comes up almost every month at our Council meetings.”
Cllr John O’Leary (FF) said there is “no clarity” on the proposed new charges from the government and said the issue runs the risk of becoming another “Irish Water fiasco”.
“There is no clear indication as to how they are going to go about this,” he said.
“If waste management is made any more expensive, some people will inevitably and unfortunately end up dumping their rubbish everywhere and anywhere.”
He said “some progress” has been made in tackling the problematic issue of illegal dumping at a local level but highlighted the costs associated with such actions.
A nine day clean-up carried out last year between Kilmeaden and Carrick-on-Suir on the R680 route cost the local authority €18,000.
Cllr Declan Clune suggested at a meeting of the Comeragh District of Waterford City & County Council last year that a “correlation” exists between the increase in dumping and the decision by Waterford City & County Council to scrap the bin waiver scheme in 2014
At Waterford City & County Council’s budget meeting in November 2014, Councillors voted to accept the budget estimates for 2015 by 19 votes to 13.
The decision resulted in the privatisation of the Council’s refuse collection service and the abolition of the waiver scheme.
Many campaigners throughout the country have pledged to put the same level of energy that was put into the Irish Water campaign into defeating the new charging regime on waste management.
Anti-water charge campaigners warned they will turn their attention to bins, in a move that is likely to see a wave of protests across the country.