Remedy sought to persistent trolley-dumping problem

August 16, 2011

By Brónagh Murphy

It is hoped a solution to the age-old problem of supermarket trolleys being dumped in Newry Canal and the Clanrye River can be found after government agencies agreed to work together to combat the issue.

It has emerged that over the past two years around 350 trolleys belonging to the four main supermarkets have been dumped in the city’s waterways.  Apart from the environmental impact of this practice, the loss of the trolleys, coupled with the cost of their removal, is significant.

In the last two years alone, this practice has cost the stores a combined total of more than £35,000.  The cost of removing the trolleys has also set back the supermarkets an average of £2,500 each.

A senior official from Newry and Mourne District Council said the problem is exacerbated by shoppers who abandon their trolleys in the city centre car parks instead of returning them to the stores.  These abandoned trolleys then become the focus of anti-social behaviour by youths who invariably dump them in the water.

Speaking on BBC Radio’s Talkback programme on Thursday, the Assistant Director of Newry and Mourne Council’s Environmental Health department, Kevin Scullion, said approximately 20 trolleys every month are dumped in the Canal or river.

“The problem is associated with two of our main car parks which the Canal and [Clanrye] River run each side of. For shoppers, these car parks are about a five minute walk from the shops they are going to, and when they return to their car with their shopping, rather than return to the store with the trolley, some people abandon them in the car park.  These trolleys inevitably end up dumped in the Canal or the river,” he said.

Mr Scullion says the Council is very keen to put a stop to the problem and is actively engaging with the supermarkets and DRD Roads Service, who owns the car parks, to tackle the issue by constructing designated trolley bays within the car parks.

Pointing out that Council workers regularly clean the canal and remove the trolleys, he added: “We realise that continuing to remove the trolleys is not the long term solution and what we want to do is try and make it as convenient for shoppers as possible.  The ideal solution as far as we’re concerned is to create trolley bays in the car parks.  The trolley can be left in a secure trolley bay and can then be collected by the supermarkets rather than just being abandoned.

“We’re hoping that Roads Service will be able to provide us with the land we require within the car parks.  If they provide us with the land, then we can liaise with the supermarkets in order to have these trolley bays constructed,” he added.

When contacted by The Examiner, a spokesperson for Roads Service confirmed that a proposal to construct the trolley bays has been agreed and should be in place within months.

“Roads Service has been actively liaising with Newry and Mourne Council on this issue.  There is a proposal to lease small sections of the car park, close to the supermarkets, to the Council, so that trolley bays can be constructed.  It is hoped that the bays will be used by customers to secure trolleys, which are not in use,” the spokesperson said.

“Roads Service, who owns this car park, has agreed to lease the land for free, on a trial basis, and the supermarkets have agreed to cover the costs of the trolley bays.  Pending the completion of the legal documentation, it is hoped that this initiative will be in operation within the next couple of months.”