A NOTORIOUS eyesore in Portarlington will finally be cleaned up this year if funding is granted.
An inspection of the rubbish-strewn field behind the town’s group housing estate has already been carried out by Laois County Council. Following the inspection, the council’s housing section is making an application for funding to cover clean-up costs and a new boundary fence at the site.
The news was given to the latest Graiguecullen-Portarlington Municipal District meeting in response to cllr Tom Mulhall, who proposed that the field be cleaned up and fenced off. He pointed out that the field on the Canal Road has been an ugly dumping ground for years and gives a dreadful first impression of the town to train passengers travelling through Portarlington.
Cllr Mulhall recalled that when the group housing scheme opened there was an agreement that the field was to be used only for grazing. Instead, it has been used for illegal dumping, the burning of rubbish and as a space for “unsightly” temporary dwellings.
The Emo councillor said: “Dogs and horses are also breaking out there and trespassing on neighbouring land. People have got this unsightly view from the train for years and it lets down the town. We have had positive news for Portarlington lately, with projects such as the enhancement of The Square and it’s time that we improved this part of the town, too.”
Cllr Mulhall added that once the field is cleaned up and fenced off, “pressure must be put on residents” of the group housing scheme to ensure that the field is used only for grazing ponies from now on, not for temporary dwellings or illegal burning.
He said: “If anyone out the country had a field in that condition, the council’s environment section and the gardaí would be on to them. I think it’s a disgrace.”
He was supported by cllr Aidan Mullins, who said the state of the field in question would not be tolerated anywhere else and it gave a terrible image of the town, with train passengers regularly posting images and commenting on social media.
Cllr Mullins added: “Landowners in the area have had their livestock worried and hassled. This behaviour is not new. The field does need to be cleaned up, but it will be just as bad within six or nine months if we don’t prevent this happening again.”
Senior executive officer Nicola Lawler of the county council’s housing section confirmed that an inspection was carried out at the site. In a written response, she said: “Having carried out an inspection of the land in question, we will make an application to the department to seek funding to cover the costs associated with a new fence and to clean up the field.”