2021 PURE Mile Success

Atha Cliath Clean up the Uplands team

Due to Covid-19, the annual Pure Mile Gala Evening, which would usually attract hundreds of Pure Mile Volunteers, was unfortunately cancelled this year.  However, Pure consider it important to celebrate the hard work and achievements of all the Pure Mile Volunteers in Cleaning Up The Wicklow/Dublin Uplands. The PureMile is an environmental, community, heritage initiative, established by the PureProject, which 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.

Glencree Walking Group Pure Miles

2021 was the twelfth year of the Pure Mile, with the largest number of groups and volunteers involved in the project since it was established in 2009.  In the first year the Pure Mile had 6 miles of road (9.6 kilometres), and over the years the project has grown extensively to over 200 communities, groups, scouts, beavers, primary schools, secondary schools, walking groups, cycling groups, running groups, businesses and organisations, who collectively improved and enhanced over 800 miles (1,280 kilometres), of road, mountains, woodlands, valleys, forestries, upland amenities, car parks, and beaches, with the removal of tonnes of illegal dumping and litter from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  Over 2,000 litter picks and clean-ups were organised in 2021 and additional projects included, natural heritage, built heritage, community, biodiversity, and education.

The groups ranged from all over South Dublin, Wicklow, and Dun-Laoghaire, and each one will receive a Pure Mile Certificate of Participation, and all will be included in the popular Pure Mile Calendar, which will also be launched this month.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly T.D., commented on the success of Pure Mile 2021, ‘The tremendous work done by the Pure Mile Project has been a remarkable success story since it started 12 year ago.  Never before have so many people taken advantage of the stunning countryside we have in this country.  As a direct result of getting out to enjoy the mountains, lakes and beaches more of us are starting to appreciate just how precious it is and why it needs to be protected.  The record numbers of volunteers and the ever-increasing number of areas now being cleared of litter and rubbish by the scheme is helping to transform our great outdoors.  I can’t praise highly enough the team behind the project and the thousands of Pure Mile Volunteers from over 200 communities who took time out to collect rubbish from our roads, fields, hedgerows, and uplands, over the past year.  It really is making an important difference.’

The Pure Mile is the perfect opportunity for communities and groups who want to make a positive contribution to their locality and environment, and assists people in improving and enhancing the place they live in, or recreate in.  Special interest groups such as, walking groups, cycling groups, scout groups, businesses, and organisations, adopt a mile, or miles of road, in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and help Pure to Clean Up The Uplands.  Pure provide all groups with Pure Mile signage, Pure Mile bags, gloves, litter pickers and Pure Mile high-vis vests, and they also remove all of the rubbish collected by the groups. 

Ian Davis, Pure Project Manager commented on the success and growth of the 2021 Pure Mile, ‘The Pure Mile has grown every year and we now have thousands of volunteers involved in the project.  Due to Covid-19 we saw an increase in volunteers getting involved with more people out walking their local roads, rediscovering their local areas, becoming more aware of their natural environment and landscape, the flora and fauna, and appreciating their built heritage.  Earlier in the year we started with individual and family units doing regular litter picks, all within the 5km limits and all following Covid-19 guidelines, and then we progressed to large clean-ups, which resulted in the removal of over 4,000 bags of rubbish and illegal dumping from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  Over the years the Pure Mile Volunteers have removed tonnes of litter and illegal dumping from upland roads, verges, hedges, and drains, and they have made a huge difference to the areas they live in, or recreate in.’

Twenty-Three Pure Mile groups will receive Certificates of Recognition for their efforts and a cash prizes totalling to €5,750 will be distributed to groups which will further assist them in their local projects to improve and enhance the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.

Covid 19 restrictions severely impacted large-scale clean-ups of the South Dublin Uplands, however, volunteers from The Cunard/Glenasmole Pure Mile concentrated their efforts on organising regular individual and family unit litter picks of their local roads, including, Glenasmole Road, Cunard Road, Glassamucky Road, Castle Kelly Road, Ballymorefinn, and Piperstown Road.

As Covid 19 restrictions eased, other Pure Mile Groups organised litter picks and clean-ups of Glenasmole Road, Cunard Road, Piperstown Road, Military Road, Kilakee Car Park to Cruagh Road, Ballybetagh, Glencullen Road and The White Road, removing considerable amounts of unsightly litter and illegally dumped waste from this beautiful, scenic, upland landscape. The South Dublin Uplands is a unique landscape and environment, attracting thousands of visitors annually.  Much of the area is of both Irish and European significance and protected under the European Habitats Directive as a Special Area of Conservation, and now part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park. 

Pure was launched in 2006 and since that date it has proven extremely successful, in both reducing illegal dumping, and engaging with all demographics in society.  It’s the first project of its kind in Ireland involving a multi stakeholder approach collaboration with, 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.

In 2020 the Pure Project removed over 750 individual dumping sites, with the collection of over 140,000kg (140 tonnes) of illegally dumped waste from the remote, beautiful, and scenic Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, which was a 68% reduction when compared to 2008, with the Pure Truck removing 440,000kg (440 tonnes). 

The Pure Truck is on the road every day, and since the project was established, Pure has collected over 3,600,000kg (3,600 tonnes) of rubbish from over 13,000 illegal dumping sites in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands with the project processing over 14,000 reports.  If you were to put all the rubbish that Pure has removed from the uplands into standard household rubbish bags, they would fill over 400,000 bags.   If you lined up all these bags on the road, they would stretch all the way from Dublin to Dingle. 

Illegal dumping is not unique to the Wicklow/Dublin uplands, however, while most regions in Ireland are currently reporting an increase in illegal dumping, the Pure Project is seeing a decrease.  The environmental project has been recording and mapping every location and incident of illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands since 2007 and have built up a base-line-data of all illegal dumping activity in this region, the location of dumping, type of dumping, landowner, and amount of dumping, and for a number of years now they have been recording an annual reduction. The data that Pure collect 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 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, covert CCTV operations, and a dedicated vehicle – The Pure Truck, that removes all illegal dumping from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.

The Pure Project Partnership approach, incorporating statutory, non-statutory organisations, and members of the public, has proven extremely successful in combating illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and over the past four years they have recorded an annual reduction in illegal dumping activity.  This reduction in dumping coincides with the huge increase of Pure Mile groups and areas, with hundreds of miles of roads, mountains, woodlands, valleys, forestries, upland amenities, car parks, and beaches, currently being adopted.

Pure are encouraging South Dublin walking groups, cycling groups, running groups, schools, scouts, businesses, organisations, anyone, who wants to get involved, to adopt an area in the South Dublin Uplands and get involved in the 2022 Pure Mile and improve and enhance this amazing landscape. 

You can contact Pure on info@pureproject.ie or download and application from www.pureproject.ie/what-we-do/the-pure-mile/.  You can also write to; Pure Project, Wicklow Mountains, National Park, Kilafin, Laragh, Bray, Co. Wicklow and they will post out all the information or request an application form and information pack by phoning Pure on 0404 45547.

Further information on Pure can be found on www.pureproject.ie

Sarah Brooks

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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