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Multi-agency plea for people to act responsibly and take their litter home

By Alan Hendry

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Litter has been a serious problem at some sites around Scotland in recent weeks, with those responsible being described as selfish and irresponsible.
Litter has been a serious problem at some sites around Scotland in recent weeks, with those responsible being described as selfish and irresponsible.

The Scottish Government's forestry agency has joined forces with land managers, environmental experts and campaigners in urging the public to help prevent a repeat of "contemptible" scenes of littering witnessed in some parts of the country after the Covid-19 five-mile travel restriction was lifted.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is appealing for more responsible behaviour – and for members of the public to remember that, while many car parks and beauty spots across Scotland are now open, waste collection services may not yet be operational.

Its call is backed by Zero Waste Scotland, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Scottish Water, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage and Cairngorms National Park Authority.

FLS chief executive Simon Hodgson said: “Although the travel limit has now been lifted, we are still in the process of getting staff back to work with new, safe-working practices that comply with the Scottish Government guidance. Many of our contractors are in the same boat so waste collection services might not yet be operational.

“And while many FLS car parks are now open, the toilets at some of our sites are not.

“So, as Scotland gets re-accustomed to travelling further afield for leisure pursuits, we are appealing to the public to help avoid repeats of the selfish, irresponsible behaviour that over the past few weeks has seen many sites swamped by litter – or even despoiled by human waste.

“This sort of anti-social behaviour not only creates a significant health hazard but also eats into the limited resources that land managers have at their disposal.

“We would urge people to first of all think carefully about their travel plans, and secondly to behave like people who are proud to be able to call such a beautiful country home. Don’t visit sites until they are open, and take your litter home.”

Mr Hodgson added: “The sad thing is that many of the people responsible for the littering would say they were proud to live in Scotland, and yet – as we have seen over the past few weeks – they treat our beautiful countryside in this contemptible manner. It’s not acceptable.”

Barry Fisher, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Littering is illegal and unacceptable at any time. But now, when we are living through a health pandemic, it is really not okay to drop litter, to leave it in a park or on a beach, and to expect someone else to have to clear it up.

“Our message is clear. Bin it – and, if you can’t, take it home.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “With limited access available to activities and facilities, our areas of beauty are more important than ever before for people to enjoy some exercise and fresh air. We are fortunate to live in such a wonderful country and ask people not to spoil the enjoyment of everyone else.

“People who litter are committing a criminal offence, are often risking our safety and polluting our environment. There are no excuses. If you take it out with you, bin it or take it home when you are done.”

Francesca Osowska, chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “We are truly blessed in Scotland with our stunning national parks, nature reserves and trails and it’s up to everyone to help keep them that way, so we urge everyone to take all of their rubbish away with them and to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

"Even a small piece of litter dropped can have devastating consequences for our wildlife on land, in the air and in our seas. So please take it home and, as well as keeping Scotland beautiful, you could also could be saving a life.”

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