Keep up the Big Clean-Up — that’s the message from politicians and the public who have thrown their support behind the Belfast Telegraph’s new campaign.
We have declared war on litter after learning that Northern Ireland councils spend £30m a year on cleaning up rubbish discarded in our towns and countrysides.
The Belfast Telegraph has teamed up with Tidy Northern Ireland to highlight some of the worst litter spots in the hope of getting them cleaned up and we are also hoping to galvanise the public into carrying out their own clean-ups.
Earlier this week we kicked off the Big Clean-Up by joining forces with Tidy NI to clean up Rossglass Beach in Co Down, uncovering everything from oil drums to plastic sheeting, a sleeping bag, a road barrier marked Blackpool Council and even broken gravestones.
Belfast Telegraph editor Mike Gilson said: “We know our readers care about their environment. That’s why the Belfast Telegraph has decided to go to war against the litter that blights the landscape.”
Stormont environment committee chairwoman Dolores Kelly welcomed the initiative.
“I am very pleased to hear about the Belfast Telegraph’s campaign and wish it every success,” she said.
“For too long people have looked the other way. When I was a child my grandfather would go across the road and cut down overhanging hedges with the billhook, but now it’s always somebody else’s job to do things. It’s all of our responsibilities.”
Green Party MLA Brian Wilson said: “I welcome the Belfast Telegraph's Big Clean-Up initiative.
“I think our attitude towards |litter is very different to that of our Continental neighbours and we are in danger of giving a bad impression to tourists if we don't try and tackle the issue. Councils spend thousands every year trying to get on top of our litter problem, but awareness of the issue might help reduce the problem.”
A DoE spokesman said: “The department recognises that litter is a major concern for many people and, if left unchecked, is an eyesore which can lead to dirty streets and unsightly local environments.
“The campaign will raise the level of interest and debate surrounding the problems associated with littering and if in so doing it helps to change attitudes and behaviours, it will be a very positive development.”
Translink’s Granville Lavin said: “We congratulate the Belfast Telegraph on raising the profile of this serious issue. Through our environmental strategy, we work hard to tackle litter using a range of initiatives.
“In addition, our successful annual Tidy Translink Awards and biodiversity beach cleans have helped enhance both our bus and rail facilities as well as Northern Ireland’s unique natural heritage. We hope this campaign will encourage more people to take a stand.”
A number of members of the public have already contacted us at bigcleanup@belfasttelegraph. co.uk to alert us to ‘grot spots’ where rubbish is piling up.
Noelle Robinson said she walks her dogs in Stricklands Glen in Bangor but it is being ruined by bottles and tins, particularly in summer when it becomes a “youth drinker’s paradise”.
“I do lift the doggy poo that my two produce, but lots of others don’t — especially on the footpath close to the houses at Glen Park. Those residents must be disgusted when they come out of their houses and have to run the gauntlet of discarded alco-pop bottles,” she said.
Mallusk Community Action Group also welcomed the campaign and urged people to start cleaning up their own areas.
“We here at Mallusk, Newtownabbey, are blighted by industrial estates and landfill which have polluted our waterways, the air we breathe and roads and lanes,” spokesman Colin Buick said.
“We would be very interested to join the campaign as we are looking for help cleaning up our rivers to provide a local heritage trail.”
Belfast Telegraph declares war on litter
The £30m currently being spent on clearing litter could go a long way. It could pay for:
- Wages for an additional 1,400 nurses a year.
- Five new schools.
- More than 6,500 hip procedures in hospital.
- A state-of-the-art water treatment works like the one at Dunore Point on Lough Neagh.
- More than 60,000 weeks in a nursing home for an elderly person.
- A 10% reduction in the Regional Rate for domestic customers.
- More than two million hours of domiciliary care.
Our manifesto: We want to get the eyesores that are blighting Northern Ireland cleaned up.
What we will do: We will document the litter hotspots you highlight and ask the authorities to take immediate action.
What you can do: Take photographs of the hotspots and email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know what you and your community are doing.