Belfast Telegraph

An uphill battle to clear litter, but the fight goes on

By Linda Stewart

We’ve donned gloves and litter pickers to tackle a host of litter ‘hotspots’ — getting 10 of our original 11 cleaned up to date — along with a few others.

Now the Belfast Telegraph has identified another five litter eyesores which we intend to tackle as part of our Big Clean-Up campaign. We launched the campaign in November after shocking figures released by our partners Tidy Northern Ireland revealed that £30m a year is being spent by councils on clearing up rubbish that has been carelessly discarded by members of the public who should know better.

It’s the equivalent of employing an additional 1,400 nurses a year, building new schools or cutting the regional rate for domestic customers by 10%.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots has backed our campaign to tackle the litter blighting our towns and countryside and has even wielded a litter picker himself, joining up with our clean-up effort at a public green space in Poleglass.

And, unfortunately, we have been forced to add one of our rubbish spots back onto the list, even though it was cleaned up by its owners.

A site behind Bendigo Street in east Belfast earmarked for Ravenhill Business Park was being used as a dumping ground, with the culprits evidently going to some efforts to dump their waste.

Three weeks ago the site was back to pristine condition but when we visited last week we discovered someone out there has very different ideas. The metal gate appeared to have been forced open, a ‘Dump Wood Here’ sign erected and 16 piles of wooden pallets were already in place as the wood collection for bonfires kicked into action.

Worse were the piles of flytipped waste left by opportunists, including carpeting, wire, an armchair and plastic sheeting. There were even windows with shattered glass in them, posing a danger to children and pets, and a mattress.

It illustrates the running battle the authorities face in trying to protect their land from those who could just as easily take their rubbish to a dump.

We also visited the beautiful Comber Greenway, which is kept pristine along its seven-mile length by volunteer rangers. Yet thoughtless passers-by who have been discarding rubbish at the Tullycarnet make this work an uphill battle.

The ground was littered with cigarette packets, crisp bags, plastic bags, juice cartons, plastic sheeting and even a toy stuffed fish. Plastic bags and a garden hose had become tangled in nearby shrubs.

One reader had contacted us about the fly-tipping that was going on at a demolished building on Dub Lane, within Lagan Valley Regional Park.

We were pleased to see that the waste had been collected but found a heap of burnt wood, slate and metal sheeting beside the demolition rubble just off the lane — something that could cause injury to children or animals exploring the site.

One of the worst sites we’ve seen in Belfast lay just behind Jennymount Methodist Church in north Belfast where a huge amount of fly-tipping has gradually been accumulating close to houses.

There was everything from an armchair, a fireplace and a Christmas tree to plastic bags, paving slabs, a discarded steam iron, a mattress and carpeting.

More fly-tipping was discovered in Larne, where rubbish was found piling up behind the High Street substation, including oil bottles, a lampshade, glass bottles, a laundry basket, a scooter, carpeting, moulded plastic, clothes and a saucepan full of brown liquid.

But the pollution we found at the mouth of the Inver River in Larne was on another scale altogether, with what looked like thousands of plastic bottles carpeting the shore and continuing along the line of the dual carriageway.

Some of the litter had been there so long that mats of grass were growing over some of the cider bottles.

If you know of anywhere that has been transformed into a litter eyesore, contact us at bigcleanup@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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