PURE success as Gala Awards return

After a two-year absence, The Pure Mile Gala Evening Awards was back on this year in the Brooklodge Hotel on the 27th October, to celebrate the hard work and achievements of all the Pure Mile Volunteers in Cleaning Up The Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.

The Pure Mile is an environmental, community, heritage initiative, established by the Pure Project, which encourages communities and groups living in rural areas of Wicklow, South Dublin and Dun-Laoghaire, to adopt a mile of road, or miles of road, in their local area, or in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and organise litter picks, clean-ups, anti-dumping campaigns, research information about their local wildflowers, plants, trees, animals, and the built, cultural, and social heritage of an area. The Gala Evening is an opportunity for all of the Pure Mile Groups to meet for one night, in one room, and celebrate all of their hard work and achievements in Cleaning Up The Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, and for Pure to thank them all.

Certificates of Participation were presented to all Pure Mile Groups on the night by the Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr. Tommy Annesley, Mayor of South Dublin, Cllr. Emma Murphy, and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, T.D., Simon Harris.

On the night, the Cathaoirleach for Wicklow County Council, Cllr. Tommy Annesley stated, ‘Wicklow is an amazing landscape, and The Pure Mile demonstrates that the people of Wicklow both value and care about this natural resource, and I would like to congratulate and commend all of the Pure Mile Volunteers.’  

2022 was the thirteenth year of the Pure Mile, with the largest number of groups and volunteers involved in the project since it was established in 2009.  In the first year the Pure Mile had 6 miles of road (9.6 kilometres), and over the years the project has grown extensively to involve communities, groups, individuals, scouts, beavers, schools, walking groups, cycling groups, running groups, hiking groups, businesses and organisations, who have collectively improved and enhanced over 850 miles (1,368 kilometres), of road, mountains, woodlands, valleys, forestries, upland amenities, car parks, and even some coastal areas, with the removal of tonnes of illegal dumping and litter from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  Over 1,600 litter picks and clean-ups were organised in 2022 and additional projects included, natural heritage, built heritage, community, biodiversity, and education.

Mayor of South Dublin, Cllr. Emma Murphy, also stated that, ‘The Pure Mile project plays a vital part in protecting our rural communities. As Mayor of South Dublin, I am especially proud of the opportunity which Pure Mile affords local communities and community groups in South Dublin, empowering them to make positive contributions in their communities, assisting them to enhance their local environments and taking pride of place in our beautiful rural landscapes. Recognising the work of these groups involved in the Pure Mile Project is important – it provides an opportunity to showcase good practice and the brilliant work being done in our communities. Congratulations to all nominated groups and communities.’

The groups ranged from all over Wicklow, South Dublin and Dun-Laoghaire and each one received a Pure Mile Certificate of Participation, native Irish trees, and all will be included in the popular Pure Mile Calendar, which will also be launched this year.  There were a number of Certificates of Recognition presented on the night with cash prizes reaching over €6,000 distributed to groups which will further assist them in their local projects to improve and enhance the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, T.D., Simon Harris, spoke about the success of the Pure Mile and mentioned, ‘This has been the biggest year to date but the challenge has never been bigger either.  Tonight, is an important chance to recognise and thank volunteers across Wicklow, keeping our county and our community cleaner and safer.  It is a testament to each and every one of our volunteers that give up their spare time to make Wicklow a better place for the people who live, work and visit our county.’

The Pure Mile is the perfect opportunity for communities and groups who want to make a positive contribution to their locality and environment, and assists people in improving and enhancing the place they live in, or recreate in.  Special interest groups such as, walking groups, cycling groups, scout groups, businesses, and organisations, adopt a mile, or miles of road, in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and help Pure to Clean Up The Uplands.  Pure provide all groups with Pure Mile signage, Pure Mile high-vis vests, Pure Mile bags, gloves, and litter pickers and Pure also removes all of the rubbish collected by the groups.  

Ian Davis, Pure Project Manager commented on the success and growth of the 2022 Pure Mile,

‘The Pure Mile has grown every year and we now have thousands of volunteers who are rediscovering their local areas, or adopting areas in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, becoming more aware of their natural environment and landscape, the flora and fauna, and appreciating their built heritage.  This year we saw some large-scale clean-ups and litter picks which resulted in the removal of approximately 4,000 bags of rubbish and illegal dumping from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  Over the years the Pure Mile Volunteers have removed tonnes of litter and illegal dumping from upland roads, verges, hedges, and drains, and they have made a huge difference to the areas they live in, or recreate in.’

Pure was launched in 2006 and since that date it has proven extremely successful, in both reducing illegal dumping, and engaging with all demographics in society.  It’s the first project of its kind in Ireland involving a multi stakeholder approach collaboration with, the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, Wicklow County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Coillte, National Parks & Wildlife Service, and the Wicklow Uplands Council. 

In 2021 the Pure Project removed over 800 individual dumping sites, with the collection of over 144,000kg (144 tonnes) of illegally dumped waste from the remote, beautiful, and scenic Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, which was a 65% reduction when compared to 2008, with the Pure Truck removing 440,000kg (440 tonnes).  

The Pure Truck is on the road every day, and since the project was established, Pure has collected over 3,700,000kg (3,700 tonnes) of rubbish from over 13,500 illegal dumping sites in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands with the project processing over 14,000 reports.  If you were to put all the rubbish that Pure has removed from the uplands into standard household rubbish bags, they would fill over 400,000 bags.   If you lined up all these bags on the road, they would stretch all the way from Dublin to Dingle.  

Illegal dumping is not unique to the Wicklow/Dublin uplands, however, while most regions in Ireland are currently reporting an increase in illegal dumping, the Pure Project is seeing a decrease.  The environmental project has been recording and mapping every location and incident of illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands since 2007 and have built up a base-line-data of all illegal dumping activity in this region, the location of dumping, type of dumping, landowner, and amount of dumping, and for a number of years now they have been recording an annual reduction. The data that Pure collect is valuable information providing indicators into the nature and extent of illegal dumping in Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, and statistical evidence for all illegal dumping incidents in this region.

Pure utilises a multi-disciplined approach in combating illegal dumping, incorporating a number of educational initiatives and environment/community projects – The Pure Mile, public awareness campaigns, regional/national media campaigns, enforcement and preventative measures, GPS/GIS data-base to record all illegal dumping sites, covert CCTV operations, and a dedicated vehicle – The Pure Truck, that removes all illegal dumping from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands. 

The Pure Project Partnership approach, incorporating statutory, non-statutory organisations, and members of the public, has proven extremely successful in combating illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and over the past four years they have recorded an annual reduction in illegal dumping activity.  This reduction in dumping coincides with the huge increase of Pure Mile groups and areas, with hundreds of miles of roads, mountains, woodlands, valleys, forestries, upland amenities, car parks, and beaches, currently being adopted.

If any groups, communities, individuals, schools, walking groups, cycling groups, scouts, businesses, ANYONE, want to get involved in Pure Mile, they can contact Pure at info@pureproject.ie or download an application from www.pureproject.ie/what-we-do/the-pure-mile/.  You can also write to; Pure Project, Unit 6 B, Riverside Business Centre, Tinahely, Co Wicklow, Y14 R978, and they will post out all the information, or request an application form and information pack by phoning Pure on 0402 28662.

Further information on Pure can be found on www.pureproject.ie


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