120,000kg of litter and rubbish illegally dumped in the beautiful Wicklow/Dublin uplands

Friends of the South Dublin Uplands

The environmental project, Pure (Protecting Uplands & Rural Environments) has recorded a 70% decrease in illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin since 2008. Pure removed over 830 individual sites in 2023, with the collection of over 120,000kg (120 tonnes) of illegally dumped waste from the remote, beautiful, and scenic, Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  The initiative has made huge progress in reducing illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  If you compare the amount of dumping collected by Pure in 2023, which was 120 tonnes of waste, to 2008 which was the projects busiest year, when they removed 440 tonnes, the initiative has seen a 72% reduction in illegal dumping in Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.

Minister of State at the Environment, Climate and Communications, Ossian Smyth TD, said: “I think all of us who get to enjoy the Wicklow/Dublin uplands every year owe a debt of gratitude to all the local volunteers, both young and not so young, who take part in Pure Project and the Pure Mile for their continuing efforts to fight the scourge of illegal dumping in their local areas. I am delighted to confirm that my Department have recently committed to funding this important work for another 3-year period until 2026’. 

The Pure Truck is on the road every day, and since Pure was established in 2006, it has removed over 3,950,000kg (3,950 tonnes) of rubbish from over 14,800 illegal dumping sites in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, with the project processing over 15,900 reports/complaints.  If you were to put all the rubbish that Pure has removed from the uplands into standard household rubbish bags, they would fill over 790,000 bags.   If you lined up all these bags on the road, they would stretch all the way from Dublin Airport to Mizen Head in Cork, and back again. 

Ian Davis, Pure Manager, commented ‘The Pure partnership approach, incorporating statutory and non-statutory organisations, and members of the public, has proven extremely successful in combating illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and we are now recording an annual reduction.  This reduction in dumping is a direct correlation with the increase of Pure Mile areas.  The Pure Mile makes a huge difference to the environment, especially in areas that are affected by littering and illegal dumping.  Pure Mile volunteers have totally transformed the upland regions and because of their dedication, determination, and enthusiasm, they have not only reduced illegal dumping, but in some areas, eliminated the problem.  A huge amount of progress has been made since Pure was established, however, there is absolutely no room for complacency, and it is vital that we continue to monitor the situation, or we will see a return to the old days, and dumping will increase.’

Pure has been recording and mapping every location and incident of illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands since 2006 and they have built up a base-line-data of all illegal dumping activity in this region, the location of dumping, type of dumping, landowner, and approximate amount of dumping, and for several years now they have been recording an annual reduction. The data collected by Pure is valuable information providing indicators into the nature and extent of illegal dumping in Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, and statistical evidence for all illegal dumping incidents in this region.

Pure utilises a multi-disciplined approach in combating illegal dumping, incorporating a number of educational initiatives, environment/community/heritage projects – The Pure Mile, public awareness campaigns, regional/national media campaigns, enforcement and preventative measures, GPS/GIS data-base to record all illegal dumping sites, and they also have a dedicated vehicle, the Pure Truck, which removes all illegal dumping from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  A new Pure Truck has just arrived with funding provided by the Department of Environment, Climate, and Communications, and Pure has recently confirmed that the department has agreed to continue to provide funding for Pure until the end of 2026.

Pure is a partnership approach, incorporating statutory, non-statutory organisations, and members of the public, and for the past seven years they have recorded an annual reduction in illegal dumping activity.  This reduction in dumping coincides with the huge increase in Pure Mile groups, which is now numbering over 950 miles (1,529 Kilometres) of road, mountains, woodlands, valleys, forestries, upland amenities, car parks and pull-ins currently being adopted in Wicklow, South Dublin, Dun-Laoghaire, uplands. 

The PureMile is an environmental, community, heritage initiative, that encourages communities and groups living in rural areas of Wicklow, South Dublin, and Dun-Laoghaire, to adopt a mile of road, or miles of road, in their local area, or in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and organise litter picks, clean-ups, anti-dumping campaigns, research information about their local wildflowers, plants, trees, animals, and the built, cultural, and social heritage of an area.  Thousands of PureMile volunteers, ranging from individuals to family groups, community groups, walking groups, hiking groups, running groups, cycling groups, schools, scouts, beavers, businesses, and organisations, removed hundreds of tonnes of illegally dumped waste and thousands of bags of litter and rubbish from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  Pure provide all groups with Pure Mile signage, Pure Mile high-vis vests, Pure Mile bags, gloves, litter pickers and they also remove all of the rubbish collected by the groups.  In 2023, Pure Mile groups organised clean ups and litter picks of the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands which resulted in a visible decrease of litter and rubbish in upland areas.  These clean-up events carried out by Pure Mile Groups resulted in the removal of over 5,000 bags of litter and rubbish, and it further demonstrates the necessity and importance of The Pure Mile Project, and the need for continued collaboration and engagement to protect the Wicklow/Dublin upland environment.

With the introduction of the new deposit return scheme in early February this year, Pure anticipate that their Pure Mile Volunteers will see a reduction in the number of bottles and cans littered throughout the countryside.

Pure is the first initiative of its kind in Ireland incorporating statutory and non-statutory organisations and stakeholders, including, the Department of Environment, Climate, and Communications, Wicklow County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Coillte, National Parks & Wildlife Service, and the Wicklow Uplands Council.  This unique partnership initiative was established to combat illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and was officially launched in September 2006.

Pure are urging the public to report all incidents of illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands to 1800 365 123 and Pure will remove it.

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Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of www.newsgroup.ie with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at info@newsgroup.ie.



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