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Hunting community cleans up the countryside

The Countryside Alliance’s annual Countryside Clean-up, which took place between Saturday 16 March and Monday 1 April 2024, saw large amounts of discarded litter picked up by groups and individuals across the countryside as hunt supporters joined forces to support this initiative.

Representatives from the hunting and rural communities, including hunt officials, hunt staff, farmers and landowners, subscribers and other supporters, braved the relentlessly wet conditions that we have experienced so far this year to clear rubbish from hedgerows, roadside verges, footpaths, river banks and fields across the UK.

Large volumes of takeaway coffee cups from well-known high street chains were recorded amongst the litter collected, with groups asked to identify the different types of items that they had retrieved. Plastic bags and bottles, crisp packets and fast-food wrappers were also amongst the most highly-recorded items which had been cast aside by those responsible for littering the countryside.

Polly Portwin, Director of the Campaign for Hunting at the Countryside Alliance said:

“Yet again we are grateful to the many hunt supporters who engaged with this annual event, ensuring that their local area is free of litter whilst helping to protect livestock, domestic pets and wildlife by removing potentially harmful items out of their way. Discarded rubbish is a terrible blight on the countryside and those who drop litter seem to have very little regard for the potential consequences of their actions.”

More than a dozen bags of rubbish were cleared from the countryside around Trefnant in Denbighshire in Wales by supporters of the Flint & Denbigh Hunt who used a horse trailer to transport all of their unwanted treasure. The Warwickshire Hunt, meanwhile, enlisted the help of children wearing hi-viz clothing on ponies at their various dedicated clean-up operations.

“Supporters from aged four to 82 came to show their love of nature and do their bit,” said Laura from the Warwickshire Hunt. “We collected bags and bags of rubbish that will now not damage the environment or our wildlife and we are encouraging people to keep on collecting rubbish throughout the year.”

A group of hunt supporters from the Hursley Hambledon Hunt picked up 34 bags of rubbish from around the lanes and roads close to their kennels near Droxford in Hampshire, explaining how they were “very surprised by how much litter we gathered in a relatively short space of time” and how “keeping our countryside clean is extremely important to the rural community”.

The Albrighton and Woodland Hunt collected a total of 51 bags of roadside litter including “wheel hubs, tyres and other unmentionables”.

The Countryside Alliance has had a longstanding campaign against the blight of fly-tipping and littering, especially in rural areas and it is one of our key campaigns this year. Our rural crime survey, published in January, saw fly-tipping and littering remain respondents’ second-highest rural crime priority for police to tackle, behind only agricultural machinery theft. It found that among those who reported a crime having been committed against them, 37% had suffered from this scourge on our landscape.

As part of a wider campaign, the Alliance is also raising the issue of littering in Westminster and is encouraging MPs to debate the problem and back our campaign to discourage littering associated with Drive-Thru businesses such as McDonald’s and Starbucks that are a particular problem on many rural roads.

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