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'Shameful' littering scenes must not be repeated


By John Davidson

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Visitors attracted by beautiful scenery such as here at Mam Ratagan are being urged to be responsible.
Visitors attracted by beautiful scenery such as here at Mam Ratagan are being urged to be responsible.

People visiting the countryside are being told to act responsibly after 'shameful' littering problems once travel restrictions were lifted.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has been joined by land managers, environmental experts and campaigners in calling on the Scottish public to help prevent a repeat of the recent scenes of littering.

It comes on top of an ongoing campaign from Mountaineering Scotland, Tak It Hame, which urges walkers and climbers to take their rubbish home and remove other people's refuse if necessary and safe to do so.

FLS has called for more responsible behaviour – and for members of the public to remember that while many of its car parks and beauty spots are now open, waste collection services may not yet be operational.

Simon Hodgson, FLS chief executive, 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 in to the limited resources that land managers have at their disposal.

Litter strewn across a site at Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.
Litter strewn across a site at Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.

“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.”

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

Grant Moir, CEO of Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “People come to the Cairngorms for the beautiful landscapes, scenery and the peace and quiet. Since the coronavirus pandemic we have seen an increase in visitors who are new to the park and we have worked hard to promote how people can enjoy the park safely and responsibly.

“How visitors behave makes a huge difference to ensure everyone can enjoy the park, so we ask that people are considerate towards each other, to nature and our local communities – in particular, please take your litter home.”

The public are being asked to think carefully about when and where they want to travel to, and to be considerate of local communities, other visitors and land management staff and to take their litter home.

Mr Hodgson added: “The sad thing is, 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.”

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.”

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