New Forest organisations and local community litter heroes are encouraging everyone to support the local environment and get involved in the New Forest Spring Clean.
The New Forest Spring Clean is a joint initiative between New Forest District Council, Forestry England, New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire County Council, the National Trust and the Verderers of the New Forest.
It covers the entire New Forest District, including local villages and towns, the Forest, and the coast.
Running from the 25 March until the 10 April, the initiative is part of the national Great British Spring Clean from Keep Britain Tidy, which this year asks people to join the #BigBagChallenge and pledge to pick up as much litter as you can during the campaign.
You can make your pledge by visiting https://www.keepbritaintidy.org and choose New Forest District Council as the Local Authority so organisers can see how many bags are collected across the New Forest.
New Forest National Park Authority Chair Gavin Parker said: ‘We are grateful to those who generously volunteer their time to enhance and protect the Forest.
Any litter left in our National Park can have a huge impact from starting wildfires, polluting the land and waterways, and affecting commoners’ animals and wildlife.
A big thank you for the continued dedication from our ambassadors and local litter picking groups and volunteers who have tirelessly litter-picked throughout the year.
Anyone can join in to help care for the Forest and we are calling on more families, communities and businesses to join this concerted effort to help us to clean up the Forest this spring.’
More than two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK every day with the cost to the taxpayers for street cleaning reaching over £1 billion a year.
Over recent years many local areas, including the New Forest, have seen a rise in the amount and different types of litter.
Cllr David Russell, NFDC’s Portfolio holder for people and places, said: ‘Litter in our district can cause great harm to people and wildlife and is costly to clean up.
As a council, we are committed to working together with our community to tackle litter pollution and to protect our local environment for generations to come.
‘Our teams work extremely hard, seven days a week, to keep our council-owned land clean and tidy for residents and visitors.
We also work with our partners to ensure we challenge littering and provide support to volunteers who are passionate about protecting the New Forest.
‘The response from our community to tackle litter continues to be incredible, and we are keen to support efforts to clean up our district safely.
We thank everyone who gives their time to help keep the New Forest clear of litter and we look forward to supporting residents further during the Great British Spring Clean this year.
‘Anyone can get involved and however much time you can pledge, it all makes a difference. Please remember that your personal safety must always come first.
If you are planning a clean-up, don’t forget to receive permission from the landowner and follow health and safety guidance to make sure you and your volunteers stay safe on your litter-pick.’
New Forest District Council can lend equipment for groups of up to 30 volunteers, including litter grabbers and hi-vis jackets, for organised litter picking events.
It will supply rubbish sacks and arrange to collect the waste after the litter pick. As much waste as possible will be recycled.
To register your litter pick and your bags collected, get more information and request support for your event go to https://www.newforest.gov.uk/litterpicking.
Families and individuals can also get free litter picking equipment and advice on their clean up when they sign up as a New Forest Ambassadors with the New Forest National Park Authority.
Find out more at https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/nfambassadors.
Forestry England and NFDC are also working together throughout March and April to carry out litter picking along 100 kilometres of Forest roadside verges. Local people are strongly advised not to put themselves at risk and therefore not litter pick along any road verges.
Tackling another source of litter, New Forest National Park Authority, New Forest District Council, Forestry England and Hampshire Constabulary are also working on a joint anti-fly-tipping operation to target vehicles without waste licences.
Last month in just one early morning operation in the New Forest the group stopped almost 50 vehicles to check their licences and take action against those failing to meet their obligations to dispose of waste legally and safely.
Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of any waste, no matter how large or small, onto any land, or at any site that doesn’t have a licence to accept the waste.
This includes waste dumped on any public or private land, including public highways; giving your waste to someone else to fly-tip; leaving waste outside the tip or a community recycling bank; leaving waste next to public litter bins.
Please report anyone you see fly-tipping and if you’re arranging for your waste to be collected and disposed of, always ensure it’s by a registered waste carrier.
Craig Harrison, Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest, Forestry England, said: ‘Litter has no place in a Forest, it harms wildlife and damages the landscape. Our staff come across it every day and collect up everything from food packing to electrical equipment.
‘They have been greatly supported in recent years by an army of local litter heroes, local community groups and individuals who regularly give up their time to litter pick.
Their efforts have been amazing, and we are incredibly grateful to them for their support in caring for this special place.
‘We’d encourage anyone who would like to help keep the Forest tidy to get involved in this year’s New Forest Spring Clean.
Local residents and businesses can also make a big impact by ensuring they check if their waste carrier is licenced and properly disposing of waste which can easily be done online.‘
Litter picking safety advice
• don’t litter pick along road verges
• avoid litter picking steep slopes, cliff edges or in water courses
• always litter pick in daylight, and wear appropriate clothing and footwear, including a hi vis vest if possible
• use a litter grabber to pick things up, and don’t attempt to pick up anything too heavy, sharp or hazardous
• report any fly tipping or hazardous items, such as needles, to the council as soon as possible at https://www.newforest.gov.uk or on 023 8028 5000
• be aware of other people, dogs, and wildlife, and make sure children are supervised at all times
• don’t enter private land without permission
• if you are organising a litter pick, please make sure you follow health and safety guidance for community litter picking: https://www.newforest.gov.uk/litterpicking