Public visits to waste and recycling centres in West Cork have significantly reduced since their opening hours were cut — leading to fears of illegal dumping.
Figures released by Cork County Council’s environmental services show West Cork was worst hit by opening times of civic amenity sites throughout the county.
A comparision of figures between July-September 2014 and the corresponding period this year showed the three sites under the control of the municipal body in West Cork all had reduced visitor numbers.
Recycleable tonnage at Derryconnell on the Mizen peninsula and sites in Clonakilty and Castletownbere also fell, but waste tonnage slightly increased at all three sites.
At Derryconnell, near Schull, 5,587 public visitors had been recorded in the third quarter of 2014. Following reduced opening hours in 2015, the third quarter figures for the Mizen site were 4,818.
Clonakilty visits fell from 7,793 to 7,681 in the same period while Castletownbere fell to 4,170, down from 4,529.
The council had, this year, decided to rationalise opening hours and deploy its civic amenity site personnel during “quieter times” to specialist units which tackle litter in blackspot dumping areas.
Sharon Corcoran, head of the council’s environment directorate, admitted the public visits to recycling centres were down, but said the amount of waste being taken to the sites had not dropped.
However, she said while she did not believe new measures were leading to more illegal littering, she admitted it may take a full 12 months of monitoring to get the true picture.
She based her belief on figures which showed the amount of tonnage going through the civic amenity centres.
Ms Corcoran made the comment after Cllr Michael Collins (Ind) highlighted the risk of illegal dumping due to reduced opening hours of the sites.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) and Cllr Noel O’Donovan (FG) both indicated they were concerned about the state of a smaller recycling centre in Skibbereen, which was subject to flooding.
Cllr Carroll said he recently visited the site. If he had planned to use it, he would “have to wade through a foot of water”.