Letterkenny has scored a ‘Clean to European Norms’ rating in the first nationwide litter survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) since the Covid-19 crisis.
Letterkenny was this year ranked as the 16th best out of 40 towns and cities nationwide, up from 18th last year.
There was a dramatic fall in the number of towns and cities deemed to be ‘clean’, to its lowest level since 2007. New problems have arisen with discarded masks and littered recycling centres, while there is was reduction in cigarette butts around local towns, perhaps also a reflection of pubs and offices being closed.
The Taisce report for Letterkenny stated: “Another good performance from Letterkenny. It was great to see such an improvement at Letterkenny University Hospital – this had been a seriously littered site when surveyed last year – this time around it was deserving of the top litter grade.
“The Main Street and Church Lane were looking particularly well, not just with regard to litter but also in terms of presentation and maintenance e.g. paving, seating, planting, street bins etc.
“An Grianan Theatre is a wonderful amenity which was in exceptionally good condition.
“By far the most heavily littered site was a short stretch of road from the Long Lane – Windy Hall junction to the site of A McGovern Joinery – there was a pronounced litter presence throughout. “
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, Galway City being one example.
Of 61 sites described as either heavily littered or blackspots in 2019, fewer than 40% were clean in this latest survey, among them Letterkenny Hospital. “We’ve been saying for years that the most immediate way to improve a town or city is to focus on the bad areas – clearly this is not being done.”
“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.’”