‘Litter is destroying natural beauty of our local area’

Tom Gilbert picking up litter in Straid. INNT 14-802CON
Tom Gilbert picking up litter in Straid. INNT 14-802CON

A business owner from Straid has claimed that the natural beauty of the region is being wrecked by the amount of litter on rural roads.

Tom Gilbert, who runs Ballylagan Organic Farm with his wife Patricia, said that the problem of littering on rural roads around Ballyclare has been ongoing for a long time.

He said: “Litter has been a real problem for a considerable time. Now there is so much fast food packaging discarded at the sides of the roads as well as empty bottles and tin cans; it really is an eyesore.”

The issue has got so bad that Tom recently took it upon himself to carry out a one-man clean up operation in his local area.

“We had guests from France staying at the guest house and it got to the stage where I was embarrassed that they were having to see the beautiful scenery damaged by the litter, so I tried to clean up the area. I filled a large bin bag with litter from around half a mile of road.

“I think more needs to be done to educate people about littering, whether it is in a rural area or in a built up area.”

Apart from education and the enforcement of penalties for people who discard litter, Tom believes that the community could play an active role in alleviating the problem.

“I am considering contacting other members of the community who feel strongly about the litter issue and organising a clean-up in the area. With so much of the waste being fast food packaging and soft drinks containers, it may be an idea to contact the companies to get sponsorship from them to clean the area.”

A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “Council has not received any specific complaints regarding litter in Straid or surrounding rural areas.

“Council takes its statutory obligation regarding littering very seriously, in terms of education, enforcement and street cleansing.

“Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council operate an extensive street cleansing service, covering both urban and rural areas, with the aim of making the borough a clean and tidy place to live, work, or visit. Residents and visitors can help the council by not dropping their litter but instead use one of the hundreds of litter bins in the borough or by taking their rubbish home with them.”

Concerns have also been raised about the amount of litter discarded at the sides of the A8, particularly in the vicinity of Ballynure.

• Is your local area blighted by litter? Give us a call on 028 2827 2303 or email news@newtownabbeytimes.co.uk