At a recent meeting of South Dublin County Council, Tallaght Councillor Charlie O’Connor requested information on the Council’s readiness and plans for Halloween 2021 “To ask the Chief Executive to confirm that he is preparing proposals to deal with the 2021 Halloween season noting that many in communities seek leadership in respect of the whole issue where every year there is huge cost in dealing with the protection and repair of our local open spaces.”
The reply was as follows; “The Council recognises the difficulties that Halloween causes for many communities through the illegal burning of waste on Halloween bonfires, the damage to local amenities, and the threat to property and local services.
In response to Halloween in recent years the Council has adopted a cross departmental approach utilising the services of Public Realm, Waste Enforcement, Environmental Awareness, Library Services, Housing and Community Services Departments to prevent damage and promote the “Safe Halloween” message. The Council’s response to Halloween in 2021 will involve the following elements as it has done in other recent years:
- Various awareness measures to highlight the dangers associated with bonfires and the harm done to the environment,
- Action by the Council’s Environmental Licensing and Enforcement Section to deal with commercial premises and their obligations to properly store their waste including aerial surveys,
- The Public Realm response to remove stockpiles of bonfire materials will commence as early in the year as necessary, most likely in September,
- Liaison with An Garda Siochana with regard to action being taken by them and by the Council in relation to this matter,
- Liaison with local residents groups who can help to identify the locations of material stockpiles,
- Implementation of the ‘bulbs not bonfires’ scheme which is a reward provided through South Dublin County Council’s Social Credit Scheme. This initiative provides communities with flowers in the Spring instead of scarred open space throughout the year. In recent years the Council has spent approximately €2,500 per year on bulbs for this popular scheme and it is envisaged that a similar sum will be spent again this year on the scheme. For more information please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The social credits scheme will once again facilitate groups who are registered on the scheme with the disposal of materials at the Council’s civic amenity site in Ballymount, and this will help to reduce the amount of materials being handed over for bonfires.”
Other schemes locally help with the lead up to Halloween;
Electrical Recycling Collections for Halloween
RecycleIT, in association with South Dublin Country Council and in partnership with WEEE Ireland hosted a series of free door to door electrical recycling collection days in residential areas across South Dublin prior to Halloween 2020. These collection days are now annual events and help ensure hazardous electrical equipment and batteries don’t find their way onto seasonal Bonfires. This scheme helps residents to recycle all types of electrical, electronic and battery-operated equipment including old heaters, electronic toys, TV’s, washing machines, cookers, kettles, phones and computers, and any other item with a plug or battery (including batteries).
Recycle IT is very happy to work with community groups and resident’s associations to arrange free electrical recycling collections in September and October and throughout the year. Groups can call 01 4578321 or email email@example.com to learn more and take the first steps to arranging a FREE collection event for your estate or neighbourhood.
In 2020 the Council also ran an improved mattress amnesty scheme in advance of Halloween, using the services of RecycleIT. This scheme operated within Covid restrictions and protocols in 2020 however it proved to be very successful nonetheless.
The Bulbs not Bonfires Scheme continues to run annually as part of the Council’s response to issues arising at Halloween. This is part of the wider Social Credits Scheme which is operated by the Council’s Environmental Awareness Section. In response to the suggestion here, and to similar requests received, consideration is being given to changing the type of bulb provided to participants in the scheme. To date the Council has issued daffodil bulbs only and these can continue to be provided to community groups who request these. Where a group requests pollinator friendly bulbs it is proposed that crocus, snowdrop, allium and other bulbs can be supplied. The Council policy is to map areas of biodiverse planting and in time this mapped information will be made available to the public. The assistance of community groups who plant such areas will be requested in this mapping process, so that the Council’s grass cutting programme can be organised to work around the areas which are planted by community groups.
One change that occurred in 2020 was that due to Covid 19 restrictions the Gardai and the Council’s environmental awareness staff were unable to visit schools to speak directly to students about the dangers associated with Halloween, and this led to these messages being promoted through social media. It is uncertain as to whether Covid restrictions will be fully lifted by September of this year therefore it seems necessary at this time to expect that school visits will not be possible and to make arrangements to promote the Safe Halloween message through social media once again.