Council could adopt Texas-style campaign

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LARNE Council could be set to take part in a new anti-litter campaign supported by local celebrities.

Environmental charity Tidy NI is planning to run an advertising campaign called Don’t Rubbish Northern Ireland, which aims to highlight the problem of litter and encourage more people to bin their waste.

The scheme follows in the footsteps of a highly successful project in the USA called Don’t Mess with Texas, which has been running for 25 years and has the backing of a host of iconic celebrities.

At the latest meeting of the environment at Smiley Buildings, chief executive of Tidy NI Dr Ian Humphreys outlined the potential benefits of the Province-wide project and asked local elected representatives to lend their support.

He added: “Figures from Texas show that their campaign has delivered saving of about £5 million per year.

“This scheme represents something different and I believe it is well worth investing in.

“The advertisements can be customised to suit each council area, and I am asking you to give us four or five years to see if the campaign can make a difference in Northern Irleand the way it has in Texas.”

The Don’t Rubbish NI campaign is estimated to cost £400,000, with one-third of the funding coming from Department of Environment and another one third from Belfast City Council.

Other local authorities would make up the remainder, with each council being asked to contribute an average of about £5,000, depending on its population size.

Alderman Roy Beggs welcomed the chance for Larne Council to get involved in the campaign and encouraged members to support the scheme.

Councillor Oliver McMullan also felt the project would be worthwhile, but added that it could take some time for the benefits to become apparent.

“The USA actively pays people in the community to collect certain types of rubbish, so Americans will be more used to these sorts of campaigns than people in Northern Ireland,” he added.

But Councillor Martin Wilson expressed concern about the cost of the project: “Larne Council has only detected 20 litter offences and generated at total of £1060 in revenue from fixed penalty fines in the last six months.

“We need to be convinced that this initiative would not be overly burdensome on the ratepayers.”

The council said it would take on board the comments made by Dr Humphreys and make a decision on whether to get involved in the campaign at a later date.