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Plea to tackle roadside litter

Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth campaigners, including Peter Edge, with the bags of litter they collected from the roadside along the B1339.
Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth campaigners, including Peter Edge, with the bags of litter they collected from the roadside along the B1339.

Concerned environmentalists are trying to raise awareness of the ever-growing problem of roadside litter.

Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth (AAFE) highlighted the issue at the recent North Northumberland Local Area Council meeting.

The team presented two large bags of rubbish which they had collected from a tiny stretch of the roadside along the B1339 in the Lesbury/Longhoughton area.

During the presentation, the campaigners asked what the county council is doing to tackle the problem and what further action could be taken.

They also asked if the authority planned to resurrect the Love Northumberland, Hate Litter campaign.

Peter Edge, from AAFE, said: “We would like to see a reduction in all litter, fly-tipping and all non-sustainable packaging, but we have decided for the moment to target roadside litter.

“We have done this for a number of reasons, including that it appears to have increased substantially in recent years and it is very difficult to clear up. It is also particularly difficult to identify perpetrators and prosecute them.

“Our local economy in north Northumberland relies heavily on tourism. We have noticed increases in roadside debris coinciding with the tourist season, but litter is also a threat to the unspoiled beauty which draws people to our area in the first place.

“A survey of local businesses selling to motorists in Alnwick showed little evidence of any effort to tackle roadside littering. Only 2/6 responded, in spite of personal contact, and none of those visited had any anti-littering posters on display. This would appear to be a missed opportunity for cheap behaviour modification.

“Litter-strewn verges increase the likelihood of other motorists adding to roadside litter and contributes to a culture where care for the environment is not seen as a priority, causing anger and frustration.”

The campaigners said that roadside litter is unsightly and poses a danger to wildlife and the environment.

Mr Edge asked if the county council could target roads throughout Northumberland by incorporating verge cleaning into road-maintenance contracts and/or coordinating road closures with verge cleaning by local authority teams or possibly community litter pickers.

He asked that, if the Love Northumberland, Hate Litter campaign, was to be relaunched, could it include a specific focus on roadside littering and could an anti-roadside littering poster – done either professionally or as a competition with schools – be prominently displayed at retail outlets selling to motorists, lay-bys and popular tourist destinations.

As of April, local authorities have powers to prosecute registered keepers of vehicles from which litter is thrown, and AAFE has asked the county council how it intends to use this power and publicise penalties.

AAFE suggested working with retailers to help identify offenders and encouraging driving instructors to educate young drivers about roadside littering – saying that the Don’t be a Tosser stickers produced by Keep Britain Tidy could appeal.

After the meeting, a county council spokesman said: “The council carries out regular clean-ups of roads and verges where it is safe to do so and also tackles those who drop litter, taking enforcement whenever possible. AAFE has raised its queries with us directly and we will respond to them more fully at the next Local Area Council.

“We are not planning to run the Love Northumberland, Hate Litter campaign this year, but we continue to carry out enforcement and take a zero-tolerance approach to littering.”