Councils spent more than £43m cleaning up litter in 2016

Litter on the streets of Belfast.
Marie Louise McConville

COUNCILS spent more than £43 million cleaning up litter around Northern Ireland last year - but around one in seven streets and parks still fell below standard.

A survey of 1,100 sites, by Environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, revealed that 15 per cent of those inspected were described as having a "widespread distribution of litter with minor accumulations" or worse.

This is despite councils spending a massive £43,285,212 on cleansing during 2015-16.

The worst affected places were industrial estates, where more than one in three sample sites failed to meet the standard.

By contrast, 99 per cent of low density housing areas were rated clean or very clean, with 14 per cent of those completely free of any litter.

The survey also found an improvement in dog fouling. Sites with dog fouling dropped from an average of 11 per cent over the previous four years to six per cent last year.

Chris Allen, who managed the survey for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: "It’s clear from the data that councils are struggling to keep pace with people’s irresponsible habits.

"They’re being forced to spend a totally unsustainable amount of ratepayers’ money - our money - on treating an entirely preventable problem. The average annual charge to every ratepayer in the country is around £58."

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