5.0 Community Partnership in Protecting the Environment
County Kilkenny is fortunate to have a great community spirit and there are individuals and groups across the County that assist the Council to combat litter in their local areas. The volunteerism includes the individual that keeps their stretch of road litter free to more organised groups of people including Development Associations, Tidy Town groups and CE Schemes.
5.1 CE Schemes
There are CE Schemes the length and breath of the County that assist local community groups to keep their local areas litter free and take on tasks which are beyond the capabilities of volunteers. The CE workers are often the backbone of Tidy Town groups and their work is greatly appreciated by their respective community group and Kilkenny County Council.
5.2 Community Groups and Development Associations
23 groups entered the Tidy Towns competition in 2019 but there are other community groups operating in the County which do not register for the competition but enhance their local area just as much as Tidy Town entrants.
5.3 National Spring Clean Participants
An Taisce runs the National Spring Clean annually and Kilkenny County Council supports volunteers locally by providing additional litter picking supplies. The Environment Section liaises with the volunteers to organise supplies and in recent years have been assisted by the Community Officers based in each Municipal District Area Office, which allows volunteers to pick up supplies at their local area office rather than County Hall being the sole distribution point. The Council also operates a system that organises the collection of bags of litter resulting from community clean ups throughout the year.
5.4 Interest Groups
Groups with a particular focus area are also assisted by Kilkenny County Council. Litter picks completed by organisations like Trail Kilkenny, Nore Vision and Walking Clubs are fully supported by Kilkenny County Council. In 2020, Nore Vision completed a series of litter picks along the River Nore and its tributaries and Kilkenny County Council removed 50 black bags of litter collected by their volunteers. Their aim is to promote community stewardship to empower locals to minimise the effects of litter on the Nore catchment which Kilkenny County Council gladly supports.
Image; Nore Vision Educational Resource
5.5 Resident Associations
Resident Associations are active in keeping their estates litter free and many participate in the National Spring Clean annually. They are also supportive of spreading information on litter issues to help abate litter problems through information distribution. In 2020, a dog fouling pilot project was undertaken in the eastern environs of Kilkenny City and six estates distributed over 600 information leaflets on the health issues dog fouling creates in order to decrease the occurrence of dog fouling in the area. This was done in tandem with public messaging by means of local signage and temporary stencils on a local popular walking route used by estate residents.
5.6 Tidy Town Groups
On average 23 groups enter the competition annually and while the Council provides financial support through the various grant schemes available, the Environment Section runs the Tidy Towns Forum. The forum was established in 2015 and allows Tidy Town groups to meet together, discuss topics of concern and the Council organises different speakers to provide their expertise on topics such as biodiversity and community engagement.
Tidy Town groups are excellent in encouraging different groups to join forces to assist in their work programme. For example, Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, the Kilkenny City Tidy Town groups often joins forces with employees from large employers in the city to assist them with litter picks and painting projects around the city. Their talent to encourage participation is a credit to this long-established group.
5.7 Council Ambitions for Future Partnership
Kilkenny County Council would like to capture the true expanse of volunteerism by holding a one-day litter picking event, mobilising all the county volunteers and encourage those that are not yet active to take part in the largest community clean up event ever undertaken in Kilkenny.
Plans were being developed but the pandemic stalled it but it is hoped this event will take place when it is safe to do so. It is envisaged that the event will be similar to the TLC Limerick Easter Clean Up event which sees over 21,000 people take to the streets to complete a litter pick in one morning.