A HIGHWAY rest area near Tamworth has rated in the top five worst spots in NSW for littering, but unfortunately the issue of rubbish is not confined to our extensive road network.
The Goonoo Goonoo Rest Area, 20km south of Tamworth, was on the list of the top black spots for kerbside rubbish dumping, with highway service centres and rest areas, and entrances and exits to towns, identified as the most common sites for rubbish dumping. Higher rates are always recorded during holiday periods.
It was on the list with a rest area on the Newell Highway near Dubbo, one on the Hume Highway near Goulburn and two sites along the Pacific Highway north of Sydney.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the government spent more than $9 million on clean-up costs every year, with the Goonoo Goonoo Rest Area coming in at more than $850,000.
The rest area is the responsibility of Roads and Maritime Services, not Tamworth Regional Council, but the council has its hands full closer to home.
In Tamworth, King George V Ave, Locks Lane, vacant lots in Coledale and former quarry sites are all rubbish dumping black spots.
To try and tackle the issue though, the council has recently put in surveillance cameras in a problem area near the Peel River along King George V Ave, and installed more bins, and has another funding application before the NSW government for more portable cameras to be used in other littering trouble spots.
A council spokeswoman said people who dumped rubbish in public areas shouldn’t think they would remain anonymous.
Apart from surveillance cameras, when litter is cleaned up from dumping spots, Tamworth waste management centre staff go through it in order to try to find something that identifies the dumpers. If perpetrators can be found, they can be hit with hefty fines.
Mr Gay warned fines also applied for littering from vehicles, ranging from $250 upwards.
NSW Environmental Protection Authority director Stephen Beaman said the most common items tossed on highways were cigarette butts, beverage containers and fast food wrappers.
People can now use a special Report to EPA app that records the time, place and region of a littering offence, with fines for offenders if the evidence is sufficient.
“Something like 12,000 people have downloaded the app and we’ve issued about 6000 fines. In the previous year we issued around 450 fines, but now the community is our eyes and ears,” he said.
“For us, it’s about not issuing fines. The perfect outcome would be a social norm where people don’t litter.”
The NSW government is aiming to reduce the state’s total litter by 40 per cent by 2020, with a proposed NSW container deposit scheme considered a powerful weapon in the clean-up fight.