Northern Ireland

Litter: Ratepayers fork out £43m for clean-up

Street cleaning in Belfast
Image caption Street cleaners are busy at work in Belfast

Every ratepayer in Northern Ireland paid £58 towards the cost of cleaning up litter last year, according to an environmental charity.

The bill for the eleven councils is more than £43m, an increase of 8% on 2014.

It would almost pay for the new maternity unit at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, which will cost just over £46m.

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Media captionCleaning up litter cost ratepayers in Northern Ireland £43m last year

It would also pay the wages of about 2,000 nurses.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful worked out the cost from councils' financial statements.

But even though the cost of dealing with litter is going up, the number of enforcement cases has gone down.

It stands at 3,724 this year, down from 4,443 in 2014/15.

Image caption This litter was gathered from bushes outside the BBC in Belfast

Nearly half of all fixed penalties were issued in Belfast. By contrast, Lisburn and Castlereagh issued just 1%.

Dr Ian Humphreys of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: "Most people don't litter, so we need to give the people who do litter a clear signal that their dirty, selfish behaviour is not acceptable."

Councils run a number of anti-litter education initiatives.

Campaigns include Live Here Love Here which is supported by seven councils, the Department of Agriculture and Environment and some businesses.

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