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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Crackdown on litter louts urged after 133 bags of rubbish collected from two roads in MEA

Shane’s Hill, County Antrim.

A crackdown on litter louts has been urged after the removal of 133 bags of rubbish from two main roads in Larne.

In a letter to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), Abe Agnew BEM, founder of Eco Rangers NI, highlighted the need for tougher penalties for offenders such as penalty points for littering from vehicles.

Mr  Agnew wrote to the DfI to share the findings of a rural roads survey carried out by Eco Rangers NI in association with Live Here Love Here and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The group’s “Operation Tosser” was designed to determine the items and quantity discarded from vehicles. It was carried out at the A8 and Shane’s Hill Road along a 12-mile stretch during a 10-week period from January last year and showed that plastic drinks bottles were the most discarded items.

During this period, no litter-picking was carried out at either road to allow it to accumulate. The clean-up resulted in 111 bags of litter being lifted at the A8 and 22 at Shane’s Hill Road.

To raise awareness, Eco Rangers lined the filled blue bags along the roadside which were collected by council workers and brought to the household recycling centre at Redlands in Larne.

Analysis by Eco Rangers found 5,000 recyclable items had been collected. Drinks bottles and cans comprised 85 per cent of these items.

More than 43,650 non-recyclable items were gathered. These included a “large number” of plastic bottles containing urine, 1,200 tissues and 800 face masks and wet wipes.

The council has placed signage at Larne’s Harbour Highway after the route to  was “littered” with bottles of urine.

Commenting on the findings, Eco Rangers NI said:

“Analysis showed that in just ten weeks, along a distance of just 12 miles, well over 400kg of waste, including drinks cans and bottles, coffee cups, food trays and PPE was discarded.

“The litter collected by the Eco Rangers equates to almost 60 items of litter discarded by motorists along every single mile, every single day, well over a quarter of a million of items just on this 12-mile stretch every year. This is a staggering amount and is simple unsustainable.

“Litter of this scale has an undeniable impact on the environment. Aside from the immediate issues of unsightliness and potential dangers posed by the litter, it also contributes to climate change and pollution.

“The Eco Rangers believe that the results of this survey show a startling lack of consideration by motorists of the environment, local people and wildlife. The sheer volume of litter collected after such a short period clearly demonstrates that there is still a deeply ingrained habit in some motorists who regularly litter and who do not fear reprimand or sanction for doing so.

“We believe that if these behaviours are to change in a meaningful way, co-operation between industry and government is required with additional steps taken to reduce litter at source, improve disposal options and a circular economy to encourage and incentivise positive waste management.”

The Eco Rangers also support deposit and return schemes and say that  littering and fly tipping should be penalised.  Fixed penalties for littering and dog fouling in Mid and East Antrim are to rise from £80 to £120 in April.

Speaking at a meeting of the borough council’s Direct Services Committee, on Tuesday evening, operations director Philip Thompson praised the “tremendous work” of the Eco Rangers.

He indicated a meeting has been arranged with the group which he said has made some “very valid points”.

Coast Road Alliance Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna said: “They do absolutely magnificent work throughout the year. The place would be an absolute mess if it was not for all the excellent work they do.”

Consumers in Northern Ireland will be able to recycle plastic and canned drink containers through a new Deposit Return Scheme to be introduced in 2025.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) expects the Deposit Return Scheme to “incentivise people to recycle their drinks bottles and cans to redeem their deposits”.

In addition, DAERA is also introducing an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for packaging, which will mean packaging producers and manufacturers will cover the costs of recycling and disposing of their packaging.


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