Limerick County Council are to investigate the possibility of introducing a community ‘texting’ service to identify offenders.
This comes after it was revealed the local authority spent more than €800,000 on clearing up illegal dumps in the last year.
With many rural garda stations closed, communities have put in place a point of contact to report incidents to, with the gardai then notified.
Chairman of the environment committee, Cllr Leo Walsh, believes this scheme could be replicated when it comes to illegal dumping.
“If something similar could be done for illegal dumping; if people started something, it could be a way of combating it. If people were aware it was happening, if it was publicised, it would help,” he said.
When Cllr Walsh raised the matter in the first joint county/city environmental meeting, director of service Caroline Curley agreed to examine the possibility of introducing a scheme.
With many councillors horrified at the clean-up costs last year, Cllr Walsh is confident if such a scheme were in place, the problem would be reduced.
“It cost us a fortune. It would be a way of reducing the cost to the county budget,” he said, “If people saw anyone dumping from a car, they could take the registration number, then they could text, and the person could then be investigated.”
He said unlawful dumping presents a huge health hazard to rural communities.
“Often, by the time the council get to it, it could be a week. If they are in bags, dogs could get to them, as well as rats. Some people do go out and clean it up themselves, but it is a terrible cost,” he said.
On the introduction of community points of contacts in the county, the Fine Gael councillor said: “I think a lot of communities have come together, and they are still giving in numbers. People are aware of what is going on.”
While Ms Curley agreed to investigate introducing the scheme, she warned of the problems associated with bringing people to court amid shaky evidence.
“It has to be properly proven and demonstrated in court, otherwise we would be wasting our time,” she said.
Cllr Walsh said: “I do think the cost is a big factor, and it needs to be brought down. It is an awful lot of money to be paying out for illegal dumping.”
When the cost of clearing dumping was raised recently, Cllr Noel Gleeson said the problem needs to be tackled in the same manner as the investigation into the Boston marathon bombings.