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Rangers address littering at Ham Hill and encourage recycling

| Your Area North

After rangers were left dismayed at the amount of rubbish left at Ham Hill last summer, the decision has been made to remove litter bins from across the site and encourage visitors to take their rubbish home with them for recycling.

Throughout 2018’s busy summer season, rubbish was often found strewn across the grass in popular picnic areas as litter bins were full to capacity and items left on the floor beside bins. This left further visitors with a poor experience as they were unable to enjoy the walks and wildlife of the high-quality greenspace. It also attracted wildlife to the bins to scavenge for food, creating more of a mess for volunteers and rangers to clear away.

Litter that was left behind varied from food and alcohol through to high-risk broken glass and hot coals. All of these items caused damage to Ham Hill’s grasslands and had the potential to harm wildlife through ingestion or injury. These items could have also compromised the safety of visitors.

Katy Menday, Leisure and Recreation Manager at South Somerset District Council, said: “Last year when the idea of removing the litter bins was discussed, we received a mixed reaction from the public. Following that the Countryside team have completed varied research and visited other sites like Moors Valley Country Park where there are no litter bins on site and found that litter is not such an issue because visitors take it home. We now want to instil the same ethos at Ham Hill to avoid a repeat of the litter problem that rangers were faced with in 2018. Too much time was spent cleaning the site rather than focussing on conservation management for wildlife or developing projects like the new woodland play area for families.”

After years of trying to find a suitable solution to the litter problem at the site which has included installing more bins, increasing the frequency of bin emptying and increasing the amount of litter picking, the decision to remove the litter bins has been taken after extensive discussions with other greenspace professionals.

Above: Rachael Whaites, Countryside Manager, explains why the bins are being removed and what benefits it will bring.

Much of the rubbish left behind at Ham Hill can be recycled. Removing the litter bins will also encourage visitors to recycle more, whilst tackling the issue of litter being left on site.

When the idea to remove the bins was first suggested in 2018, comments on Ham Hill’s Facebook page gave us insight into how visitors felt, with one person saying, “Leaving the rubbish for the rangers to deal with means that it doesn’t get recycled”. A second person commented, “We need to start taking responsibility for our own rubbish. If you brought it with you, take it home.”

Paul McNeill, Countryside Ranger at Ham Hill Country Park, said: “At present none of the litter collected from Ham Hill Country Park is recycled. We have looked at various ways to increase the amount of recycling that we do but unfortunately with the amount of bins we have that is impossible. It would be great if visitors could take their rubbish home and help South Somerset to recycle more.”

In 2018, thanks to a grant to the Friends of Ham Hill from the Avon and Somerset Police Commissioners Community Action Fund, CCTV was installed on the rangers centre at Ham Hill to help deter car crime, livestock theft and anti-social behaviour on site. Reported incidences of car crime have been reduced since the CCTV was installed and now the CCTV includes coverage of the busy picnic area to help deter anti-social behaviour in this popular picnic spot.

Removal of the bins will now take place over the coming weeks. Please remember that if you are visiting the site, take your waste away with you and recycle as much as you can.

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