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Drones to target Christchurch litter hotspots in ground-breaking trial

LITTER problems in Christchurch will be targeted this summer with a ground-breaking trial using drones.

The town, along with Bournemouth and Poole, will be the focus of a pilot launched in a partnership between BCP Council, environmental charity Hubbub and McDonald’s.

Intelligence will be gathered from drone data to inform the future placement of bins, street cleansing schedules and campaigns to encourage visitors to dispose of their litter responsibly.

The initiative, funded by McDonald’s, will use cutting-edge technology to identify and categorise individual pieces of litter to give unprecedented insight into the types being dropped, where and when.

Provisional sites in Christchurch for the drones include the waterfront, the Quomps and the town centre (46004657)
Provisional sites in Christchurch for the drones include the waterfront, the Quomps and the town centre (46004657)

The campaign will also use fixed cameras and mobile and vehicle technology to create detailed litter maps, identifying hot spots.

The technology was used in the Italian town of Sorrento last summer, where it was hailed a huge success – enabling authorities to reduce litter by 45% and cigarette butt waste by 69%.

The first drones were flying last month. The audit will be repeated in May as further lockdown restrictions ease, with provisional sites for bins in Christchurch including the waterfront, the Quomps and the town centre.

Cllr Mark Anderson, BCP Council cabinet member for environment, cleansing and waste, said: “We are delighted to have been invited to participate in this national collaboration, at no cost to the council, which will enhance our plans to tackle the issue of litter across our three towns.

“Litter is everyone’s responsibility. We will be very clear when we welcome responsible visitors to our resort, they should respect and protect our resort, behave reasonably and pick up after themselves.”

Soft drinks producer and McDonald’s supplier Britvic is also funding the project along with two packaging suppliers.

Extra council patrols have been included in additional actions planned in a £3.5m package of measures to manage the crowds expected after lockdown. A multi-agency command control centre is operating until the end of September, overseeing day and evening operations.

In hotspot areas there will be Covid marshals and additional community safety officers, with 75 additional seafront staff on hand. Increased traffic management will be at key locations including Avon Beach and Mudeford Quay car parks.

Work to install electric barbecues at undecided locations on the seafront has also been given the go-ahead, to cut the number of single-use ones being dumped. They include some accessible for wheelchair-users, and will operate on a pre-timed cycle and turn off automatically after use.

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