Stirling MP Alyn Smith has written to the Scottish Government’s Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, calling for a public awareness campaign on the impact of littering in rural hot spots.
The call comes after 21 people were charged with a series of offences in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park area, after tents, sleeping bags, and other equipment were left littering woodland area. Environmental damage to the area also saw trees destroyed by fire.
Mr Smith has written to the Justice Secretary, calling for a maximum £5,000 fine for those who litter. In addition to this, he has also written to the Education Secretary, asking what more can be done to educate young people about the damage that littering can do to the environment.
During the lockdown period, Mr Smith joined Bruce Crawford MSP in speaking to community councils, local businesses, farmers, and residents about the issues that they were facing. Littering was one of the most frequent issues to be raised.
Last week, Mr Smith visited Malin Holmefjord-Heen, a sheep farmer based just outside Callander, and discussed how littering was impacting the local area.
Alyn Smith MP said:
“Like most people, I was sickened to see the devastating damage that small groups of people had done to our local area. The Stirling area is a beautiful and welcoming place, but we need those who visit to give it the respect it deserves.
“Littering isn’t just unsightly, but it can disrupt ecosystems, and can be a real danger to animal welfare too.
“That is why last week, I wrote to the Justice Secretary, calling for a maximum £5,000 fine for people who are littering. This wouldn’t mean that everyone who drops a crisp packet would face such a large penalty, but it would give the justice system the ability to better reflect the seriousness of some incidents of littering and environmental damage.
“However, at the same time, we cannot take our foot off the gas when it comes to educating people about this stuff. Schools already do their bit in talking about littering and anti-social behaviour. If more people are going to visit our stunning rural hot spots, then it’s only right that authorities undertake a public awareness campaign of the impact that leaving rubbish behind can have.
“The message is a simple one: please do visit our rural areas, but if you can bring rubbish with you, you can take it away again.”
Photograph: Alyn Smith MP holding lamb at Malin Holmefjord-Heen’s farm on banks of Loch Venachar