Chelmsford City Council, Essex Waterways, the Chelmer Canal Trust and local residents have united to speak out against a ‘plague of litter’ in the area’s parks and beauty spots since lockdown restrictions began to ease.
In June, the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy warned of “a littering epidemic as lockdown eases” – and that prediction is being borne out. In Chelmsford, the amount of litter seen in outdoor areas has risen dramatically in the past four weeks. Park rangers and horticulturalists are now spending hours of their working day tidying up discarded wrappers, bottles and other waste – much of which could be recycled.
Facemasks and plastic gloves can now be found amongst the litter: on 20 July, the BBC reported on a gull which had been found with a facemask tangled around its legs in Argyll Road, Chelmsford. At Paper Mill Lock, a popular beauty spot, litter has been seen floating in the water and piled on the riverbanks, and an entire sofa was found dumped in Central Park in July.
Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford, said, “When the world was in lockdown and human activity was decreased, we were given a brief glimpse of what our planet could be without the harm that we cause to it. That makes it all the sadder to now see some of our most beautiful and well-loved places once again marred by the plague of litter.
“If you come to somewhere because it is a nice place to be, if you make the effort to bring a picnic with you, please also make the effort to take your rubbish home with you or put it in a bin. Don’t just think ‘someone else will pick it up’. Before anyone else can get to it, that piece of litter could blow into a river or harm an animal or child. Take responsibility for your own rubbish and help to create a greener Chelmsford.”
William Marriage from the Chelmer Canal Trust said, “The Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation and its surroundings are fantastic and beautiful spaces on our doorstep where we can enjoy nature and the water. Encouraging people to do so is a key aim of the Chelmer Canal Trust. The Trust runs regular work parties which include litter-picking. but it would be so much better for everyone if these weren’t necessary and visitors took their litter away with them; discarded litter does nothing for the surroundings apart from being a serious threat to the environment and to wildlife.”
Environment Agency Enforcement Team Leader, Lesley Robertson, said, “Littering is anti-social and unpleasant to look at. Once in rivers and ponds, it can impact on water quality, wildlife can become entangled and it can foul anglers' fishing equipment.”
Roy Chandler, Director of Essex Waterways, said, “We're pleased to see people enjoying the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. especially families - it makes our work worthwhile! However, we cannot understand why people come to enjoy a picturesque location and then spoil it for others by leaving their litter.
"Our staff and volunteers spend time clearing litter when they could be maintaining and improving the waterway. Please take it home, it is unsightly and blows into the water causing pollution and harm to animals and wildlife.”
Do you have strong views on littering in Chelmsford? Is there an area which you think people should treat better? Join the discussion on the Chelmsford City Council Facebook page or tweet @ChelmsCouncil.
Tuesday 18 August 2020