A Clean Coasts group has called on the council to stop “damaging our beautiful beaches” by using JCBs to pile and bury waste along the shoreline.
Fingal County Council employs contractors to rake and scrape the sand on strands at Howth, Portmarnock, Malahide, Donabate, Portrane, Rush, Skerries and Balbriggan.
But Donabate Portrane Clean Coasts (DPCC) has warned that the practice of using JCBs for this work is resulting in rubbish being piled and buried – and is damaging the ecosystem.
In a statement, DPCC said: “The JCBs scrape up rubbish [including] dog and horse waste, shells and seaweed and pile or bury it in one place, where children play and the tides simply expose the waste again.
“The practice is hazardous to public health, damaging to the important and sensitive coastal ecosystem – and Fingal County Council are using your taxpayers’ money to do it.
“We are calling on Fingal County Council to stop using JCBs to ‘clean’ our beaches now.”
The Clean Coasts group describes itself as a gathering of environmental professionals and others who share a common vision of sustainability “by means of the least intrusive environmental methods”.
The voluntary group regularly organises local residents to take part in beach clean-ups and environmental awareness sessions.
They want an end to the practice of piling rubbish as they say the methods used remove seaweed and shells and disrupt the roots of the fragile dunes, damaging the ecosystem and leaving the shoreline more exposed to coastal erosion.
The group said: “Beaches do require cleaning, dog and plastic waste are among the items the Clean Coasts groups regularly clean up. This waste needs to be removed from the beaches in an environmentally safe manner, not by piling it and burying it as Fingal County Council do.”
One distraught member who videoed an early morning ‘cleaning’ session using a JCB said what was going on under people’s noses was “shocking”.
They added: “The mounds of litter and seaweed dumped on the dunes is growing by the week. The mounds are full of dog and horse faeces, then children come along and play on the mounds thinking it is safe.
“I can tell you it is not one bit safe.”
A spokesperson for Fingal County Council said it had been the practice in recent years to clean beaches on a weekly basis during the bathing season.
They added: “As a result of concerns raised, Fingal County Council are currently working closely with An Taisce in relation to best practice when it comes to keeping our beaches clean.
“The council is committed to maintaining all of our beaches to the highest standards so as they can be enjoyed by everyone.”