David McCann Wed 26 Jun 2019
10% of the 1,100 streets, roads and open spaces, surveyed in the 2019 Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report, had dog fouling present. This is an easily fixed issue by dog owners yet the results from this year’s Cleaner Neighbourhood Report show that dog fouling is as common on our streets as other types of litter. Results like this haven’t been this bad since 2015.
Although it is not all bad news as councils have started to uptake new engagement schemes to help them tackle the litter issue. Green dog walkers encourages dog owners to take a pledge to clean up after their dogs and encourage others to do the same. Businesses in some councils have started to make a commitment to move away from single use plastics and replacing them with more sustainable options. This is only a start but if everyone starts to make this change it should see great reductions in litter on our streets, roads and open spaces.
The impact that volunteers are making on the plastic problem is priceless. During the Big Spring Clean 553,571 volunteers got involved with cleaning up their local areas removing over 800 metric tons of rubbish. A further 20,640 volunteers got involved in cleaning up their coast line during clean coast week and through the adopt a spot programme 167 spots have been adopted to be cleaned 4 times of year. Education also plays a large part of making changes to the litter problem, with this 295 schools over a quarter of all schools, have now earned the right to fly a green flag, the pinnacle of the Eco-Schools programme.
In 2017/18 347 fixed penalty notices were issued to dog owners, resulting in fines of at least £50.
Dr. Ian Humphreys had this to say about dog fouling issue “Treading in dog fouling or wheeling your buggy through it is one of the most disgusting things that can happen when you are out and about. It carries serious health risks too, especially for children who can lose their sight simply because of a dog owner’s laziness. So the reputation of the vast majority of dog owners, who pick up after their pets, has been dealt a nasty blow by these latest figures. Our message is simple: pick up after your dog and put it in the bin. Or be ready to pay the fine.”
The report concludes with a number of recommendations for combating the litter problem for national and local policy makers. With Brexit decision time looming it is difficult to predict our legislative future. This is why it is important to scan for the UK, Ireland and EU legislation and consultations which have recently come through and see how they may help shape our future in tackling the litter problem.
You can read the full report at https://www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/