Environment Minister John Gormley said the grants would be spent on initiatives to raise public awareness and educate people about the environmental crimes.

The Euro 1,245,000 will be divided among the city and county councils, and ranges from Euro 50,000 for large councils such as Cork County Council to Euro 24,000 for Leitrim County Council.

The total sum is an increase of 33% on the funding made available for 2007.

Ministers have handed out more than Euro 7.5m to local authorities for anti-litter awareness schemes since the introduction of the Litter Pollution Act in 1997.

Under the legislation, local authorities have a responsibility to prevent graffiti.

Announcing the funding, Mr Gormley said: “Local authorities have contributed greatly to the modest but sustained decrease in litter pollution levels around the country but much remains to be done.

“The appearance of a community is crucial to both social and economic activity, and first impressions count.

“Local authorities and community groups must continue to co-operate to ensure that an area is well presented.”

People will be invited to put forward possible projects, such as media campaigns, clean-ups, school competitions and exhibitions, and local authorities will select which ones to fund and decide how much to award them.

Ministers want the focus to be on involving schools, young people and voluntary initiatives by community groups.

Kate Martin

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