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Local Authority Case Studies



Area (hectares) 184,000


of which  
Westmeath County Council Town Council population 18,000
Miles of road (approx) 1,343


Westmeath County Council's Director of Environment & Planning requested Westmeath County Council's Environment Section to complete the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System's (NLPMS) litter pollution and litter quantification surveys during the period May - September 2001. It was agreed that Westmeath County Council would undertake these surveys in all areas except those covered by Athlone Town Council (however, help was provided to Athlone Town Council when and where requested).

These surveys were seen as an integral part of Westmeath County Council's duties under the Litter Pollution Act (1997). Operating under NLPMS principle (i.e. an environmental problem cannot be managed unless it can first be measured) Westmeath County Council took 41 Litter Pollution Surveys and 10 Litter Quantification Surveys. An Environmental Student and an Environmental Graduate (on work placements) undertook these surveys during the summer/autumn period of 2001. The surveyors also found the assistance of Westmeath County Council's Litter Wardens invaluable throughout this survey.

Phase 1 (Set-Up Phase)

Eighty-one potential litter generators were identified in Westmeath. These were identified, selected and classified in accordance with the comprehensive list of litter generators identified by the Monitoring System (including type of activity or type of premises) that were likely to give rise to litter pollution. (See Part Two of Manual -Identification of Potential Litter Generators).

The Surveyors worked with Westmeath County Council's GIS Officer to produce Potential Litter Generator Maps. These maps covered the whole county and were used to complete the litter quantification and litter pollution surveys.

Phase 2 (Survey Phase)

The Litter Quantification surveys identified the types of litter found in a hotspot area previously identified in the potential visual surveys. These surveys involved visual inspection of a specific area (over a 50m stretch) and, as advised in the NLPMS manual, were carried out on days as long as possible after the last cleansing sweep. Photographic evidence of each survey was also taken to supplement the survey data. These surveys were undertaken in the following areas: urban centre, suburban area, beach, national route and non-national route. As Westmeath is an inland county, beach surveys were undertaken in areas where Blue Flags had been awarded to inland lakes.

Litter Pollution Surveys were undertaken in various areas to ensure an even spread throughout the County. The Hot Spot Maps (mentioned previously) clearly identified hotspot areas and other surveys that were to be undertaken based on high risk (40%) and random locations (40%). The balance of survey locations (20%) was chosen at the discretion of the Surveyors and Litter Warden. All surveys had a Litter Pollution index (cleanliness rating) attached and photographic evidence of each survey was also taken to supplement the survey data.

The surveyors completed all survey sheets as requested and entered all relevant details onto either MS Access database or MS Excel spreadsheets. The results of the surveys were discussed and sent to TES Consulting Engineers.

Since undertaking these surveys, the results have been incorporated in Westmeath County Council's revised Litter Management Plan and Westmeath County Council has implemented a Litter Free Phone (1800 22 1231) to encourage the public to report any illegal littering incidences.

Ms. Niamh Farrell, Westmeath County Council, Mullingar, County Westmeath,
Tel: 044 84235

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