by Tim Bonner

There are few things that boil our blood in the countryside quite as much as littering and fly-tipping. I am quite sure there would be huge rural support for the return of stocks on village greens as a punishment for those who think lobbing fast food packaging out of a car window is acceptable behaviour, but to save you being sued by a human rights lawyer the Alliance is suggesting a more practical response.

We have just published details of our 2020 litter-picking initiative called the "Countryside Clean-up" which is to be held over the weekend of 28th/29th March 2020. Following the success of this initiative over the past two years, we are urging all of our members and supporters to take part in dedicated litter-picking sessions across the country over the two-day period. 

Of course we all want our bit of the countryside looking pristine and beautiful, but this is not simply about clearing up after idle and feckless litterers. We also want to highlight the companies and groups who are creating the litter in the first place. Fast food companies like McDonalds and KFC might not like being called out, but a significant proportion of rural litter comes from such sources and big corporations can always be encouraged to do more when their negative impact is highlighted. There are suggestions that drive-through fast food outlets should be using technology to print car registration numbers on food packaging to stop in being disposed of irresponsibly. If other action does not work, there will be increasing pressure for such radical solutions.

Meanwhile, the relatively new phenomenon of gel pack packaging littered by cyclists is becoming a scourge in many rural areas. When I litter-picked a couple of miles of lanes in rural Hertfordshire last year, these and energy drink cans were the most common items. Proper disposal of gel packs is now a hot topic in cycling not least because of a Daily Telegraph story that ran after last year’s ‘Countryside Clean-up’.

So if you can, please support this campaign, whether by clearing rubbish where you live or joining forces with hunt supporters or shooting syndicates to tackle the issue in areas where there is known to be a particular litter problem. Once you have had the chance to get organised, please send us details of your litter picking plans. After the event we would also like to see photographs of the volunteers standing alongside any bags of refuse that have been accumulated, as well as receiving details about how many people took part in your litter pick.

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