Tsunami of Rubbish

Abingdon resident Helen Flynn shares a first-hand account of the impacts of rubbish for our natural environment, and its emotional cost to people:

“Since the lockdown has eased we have seen a terrifying tsunami of litter and waste coming towards us. Public parks, beauty spots, and as we have seen this weekend, our British coastline trashed beyond comprehension.

Conservationists at the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), have reported that it has been the worst they have seen in over 30 years: areas of conservation and wildlife habitats being heavily littered and destroyed by what may seem to some to be a couple of careless moments. It’s all heartbreaking. Nature was resting and our rural and urban countryside recovering. Now…it’s just terrible!

In Abingdon and in Radley village we have experienced distressing problems with an astonishing increase in litter and waste of all descriptions.

Radley Lakes is an understandably attractive site, as a local conservation area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). Since lockdown has eased, it has been heavily abused with all manner of waste: not only plastic bottles, cans, and takeaway detritus, but also human excrement, used toilet paper and discarded personal protective equipment (PPE) – masks and gloves. This is not to mention an influx of disposable barbecue trays, which are forbidden for fire safety reasons.

Abingdon’s historic Abbey Meadows and Albert Park have been heavily littered on a daily basis with piles of cigarette butts, takeaway packaging, plastic and broken glass. Left discarded these are a high risk for wildlife investigating, treading on or eating them and can cause serious injury. There has also been a sharp rise everywhere in empty nitrous oxide gas canisters, commonly known as ‘laughing gas’ being dumped in public spaces. 

Our local PCSO’s have been amazing – they have been regularly patrolling known gathering and littering hotspots and are reminding people to pick up their waste before disbursing groups and sending them on their way. They cannot be everywhere though and we need to remember as community members to be considerate to others and our surroundings.

I sincerely hope that after the distressing scenes of the past week, particularly those of Bournemouth beach, we have now reached a turning point, a tipping point, because when it comes to our wildlife and our environment we are now definitely in the last chance saloon.

I hope that the ‘Bournemouth Effect’ will finally jolt everyone into making a lasting and positive change for the world at least on two counts – by behaving considerately with respect to the advice of healthcare professionals and scientists and distancing appropriately; and by disposing of litter and goods responsibly. By following these we will be playing a vital part towards controlling the spread of Covid-19 and other diseases, preventing further lockdown, and saving the wildlife and environment we have left from a dangerous pollution hell on earth.

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