Three quarters of Ireland’s waterways and beaches are polluted

According to a new survey, three quarters of Ireland’s beaches and waterways are littered – with discarded coffee cups, candy wrappers, plastic bottles and cigarette butts the most common sources of pollution.

Irish Business Against Litter (Ibal)’s annual nationwide survey of beaches and harbors found that only eight beaches out of 33 surveyed were rated as clean, while three-quarters of the beaches had varying degrees of litter pollution.

Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock, the Tolka River and Annesley Bridge were found to be heavily littered with alcohol and food waste, both on land and water, along with “long-lying” litter such as shopping trolleys, discarded clothing and traffic cones, according to sources the Heritage Authority An Taisce, which conducted the survey for Ibal.

Ibal chief executive Conor Horgan said the littering of the city’s waterways was a disgrace.

“It is heartbreaking to see the neglected state of an area that has attracted millions of euros and attracts so many business visitors. I don’t think this would be allowed in other European capitals,” he said.

Heavily polluted beaches included Cork Harbor at Blackrock Castle and White Bay Beach in Cork, while Kinsale and Bantry in Co Cork, Dingle in Co Kerry and Lough Rea in Co Galway achieved ‘littered’ status.

A survey of beaches, harbours, rivers and their surroundings by An Taisce in June and July found that many popular beaches had reverted to ‘moderately polluted’ status including Lahinch, Co Clare, Brittas Bay Co Wicklow, Curracloe, Co Wexford, Portmarnock, Co Dublin, Strandhill, Co Sligo, Clogherhead, Co Louth and Portmagee Harbor in Kerry

And while many of the littered beaches have blue flags for good water quality, litter ends up ending up in the sea from surrounding footpaths and car parks, Mr Horgan said. “You could have a beach that’s pretty much untouched, but the trash can get into the water,” he said.

And despite an improvement in litter generation observed over the past year after a noticeable increase in litter generation during the previous year’s pandemic, conditions have been declining, he noted.

“Unfortunately, the improvement seen on our beaches last year seems to have reversed this time.

“We had hoped that the reduction in litter caused by Covid could lead to an improvement in overall cleanliness, on top of the fact that many who stayed last year would have traveled abroad this summer. Our most popular beaches aren’t heavily polluted, but they aren’t as clean as they should be.

“Every day we seem to be hearing more about the dire impact that marine debris, much of it plastic, is having on our planet. We need to convince people that simple individual actions like throwing away a coffee cup – or even a cigarette butt – have an impact that goes beyond the local environment,” Horgan said.

He added that not having a bin or a full one is “no excuse for littering” and people should take their rubbish home with them. Three quarters of Ireland’s waterways and beaches are polluted

Fry Electronics Team

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