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Army of New Forest litter-pickers demand more bins

New Forest Litter Pickers - Hester Baynes and Juliette Walwyk of Bransgore
New Forest Litter Pickers - Hester Baynes and Juliette Walwyk of Bransgore

A VOLUNTEER army of 1,000 litter-pickers is calling for more bins in New Forest car parks to save wildlife from the dangers of rubbish left by visitors.

The growing band of activists has spent much of lockdown collecting mounds of thrown-away plastic bags, cans and glass bottles, as well as disposable barbecues which are banned from use on Crown lands.

Since last year the New Forest Litter Pickers, as they are known, have pulled 7,000 bags of rubbish from the Forest, local beaches, and recreational areas.

Organiser Stephen Green said: “It is basically anything that people couldn’t be bothered to take home with them.”

He argued part of the solution was to have more bins in Forest car parks, saying: “We have noticed a huge difference in the amount of litter we collect in areas that don’t have one. It does do a lot to combat the problem.”

Mr Green has already approached New Forest District Council and Forestry England about more bins being installed, and is due to have a meeting soon with the national park authority.

He said: “I have been told the problem is not just with the cost of providing more bins but maintaining them, as in the collecting and cleaning of them.

“But we are hopeful a solution can be found.”

A spokesperson for Forestry England said that litter in the Forest has “increased significantly” during the pandemic, and it has mounted more litter patrols as a result, along with regular bin emptying.

It said it does provide litter bins at the “busiest” of its 130 car parks but that one of the “key reasons” it has not installed additional receptacles is that they “pose a risk to wildlife” as they attract animals looking for food.

The spokesperson added: “A number of commoners’ animals have had to be put down because they have eaten litter left by unsuspecting visitors.”

They said that it was “extremely grateful” to groups who help clear up the Forest, but the best way to tackle the litter problem was to urge everyone to take their rubbish home with them.

The RSPCA recently revealed it is receiving 10 calls a day about animals which have been entangled in litter.

They have included a duck stuck in a face mask, a baby hedgehog which had plastic wrapped around its neck and a fox with its head caught in a Cornish pasty wrapper.

The NPA is also calling on local people to become ambassadors to pick up litter, report verge parking and share the New Forest Code rules.

For more information visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/nfambassadors.

To donate to New Forest Litter Pickers so they can buy professional rubbish collecting tools visit bit.ly/31sLYgC

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