Editor's letter - response

Dear Mr Young

We refer to your letter dated 12 February 2020 in which you raised a number of comments in relation to litter.

In 2019 we launched our Litter in Schools programme at Loudoun Academy and the associated feeder primary schools. This work is being led by a Member Officer Working Group.

We attended the six primary schools and did interactive presentations to the children. This included a simulated litter pick (using clean litter) in which we collected crisp packets, sandwich packaging, plastic bottles, glass bottles, polystyrene takeaway trays, cigarette butts, chewing gum, apple cores, banana skins, and even a bag of discarded dog poo – though we can assure all readers this was garden soil.  This initiated a discussion about how long each of these items takes to biodegrade and what happens if these items are not picked up. 

We displayed photos of local recognisable areas within the communities, with and without litter and used this as part of a discussion about what sort of environment we prefer to live in and how we can effect this. This was followed up with a poster competition and some of these posters will be displayed locally as part of the community clean ups in the spring. 

The presentation at Loudoun Academy was geared towards older children. To reflect that, we advised pupils that from the age of 12, any person caught littering in a public place could be fined. The fine itself will always be a last resort, as any young person caught littering on their way to or from school has the option of attending a supervised litter pick at the school (in lieu of paying the fine).  Importantly, pupils will see that their behaviour has consequences. However, we have no control over the level of fine imposed – this is a statutory fine for littering set by the Government. 

So far, we have seen a marked improvement locally – with less litter near the school. The programme has been fully supported by the schools and by the communities and, while we still have a problem with litter, this is helping to make a difference. 

At all of the schools, we found the children to be well informed and passionate about the environment. Our children are showing us that we can make a difference and that we can make our environment better with relatively small actions. We will implement this programme in all of our schools by the end of 2021. 

 

East Ayrshire Council Member Officer Working Group for Clean Green and Vibrant Communities

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