Borough Insight

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Litter increases as lock down eases

Along with other open air spaces across the country, the borough of Epsom and Ewell has seen a huge increase of litter in parks, countryside and nature reserves.litter 2

Councillor Barry Nash, Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Committee, said “We have all appreciated the outdoor spaces during the lockdown and our teams are working as hard as they can to keep the borough clean.

“We ask everyone to enjoy the green spaces safely and to take their litter home at the end of the day. Animals can die from litter and we all have a responsibility to look after the planet and protect wildlife”.

”Unfortunately a very small minority are damaging the environment in our marvellous green spaces and putting wildlife at risk by not taking their litter home with them.”

We have updated our guidance for members of the public who have kindly volunteered to undertake litter picking during the Covid-19 pandemic.

www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/volunteerlitterpicks   

The latest government advice is that up to six people from different households can meet remotely outdoors, if adhering to social distancing. A litter pick where safe to do so, can therefore form part of a daily exercise routine with family and friends.

The council can supply a returnable litter picking kit. This includes gloves, high visibility waistcoats and a litter picking device (subject to availability).

Councillor Nash added “We are grateful to the members of our community who are volunteering to help keep our fantastic green spaces safe and clean for everyone”.

It's no laughing matter

If you've been up on Epsom Downs or in any of the boroughs parks recently, you may have spotted quantities of small, metallic bulbs littering the ground, sometimes accompanied by deflated balloons.

Councillor Barry Nash, Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Committee, said “With so many people recently benefiting from our open green spaces to exercise and having contact with the natural world during lockdown, I’m saddened that a minority have no respect for others or for nature”.Epsom Downs litter

The small metallic gas canisters contained nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas or hippy crack.

Nitrous oxide has many legitimate uses including in the food industry as an aerator, as a medication to numb pain and in the motor industry to make engines more efficient.

It is also one of the fastest growing illegal highs being used in the UK, particularly by young people.

Due to its legitimate uses, many think it is legal. However in 2016, the Psychoactive Substances Act made it illegal to supply nitrous oxide for human consumption.

The colourless gas is sometimes transferred from the canister into a balloon and then inhaled, with the empty vessels thrown to the ground. As well as leaving unattractive litter, this antisocial habit can have a devastating impact on wildlife and the environment.

Councillor Barry Nash added “The balloons especially can be mistaken for food by mammals and birds with horrible consequences. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming”.

The canisters, which are made of steel, are being collected for recycling.

While taking the gas is not in itself illegal, the council are in discussions with Surrey Police about how to address the associated antisocial behaviour. Parents are urged to discuss the subject with their teenage children as the inhalation of the gas can be harmful.

The risks associated with nitrous oxide use are both immediate and long-term and can lead to nerve damage, paralysis, or in extreme cases, death.

Pledge to be part of the pick

We strive to keep our borough clean and tidy and are very grateful to all those community minded residents and organisations who support our efforts by regularly organising litter picks in their local area and continue to do so Spotlight_litterpicks_BIsafely at this time.

If you would like to get involved either as an individual or with members of your own household then please complete and sign our Volunteer Pledge and download our handy Volunteer Guidance Covid-19 edition leaflet at: www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/volunteerlitterpicks   

We will supply you with a returnable litter picking kit which includes gloves, high visibility waistcoats and a litter picking device (subject to availability).

The latest government advice is that up to six people from different households can meet remotely outdoors, if adhering to social distancing. A litter pick where safe to do so, can therefore form part of a daily exercise routine with family and friends.

A huge thank you to everyone who has signed our volunteer litter picking pledge and for all your efforts, it is greatly appreciated!

One of our community minded residents who runs the Keep Epsom & Ewell Tidy Facebook page was featured in Borough Insight Issue 77 - click on the image on the right to read the article featured on page 15. (opens as a PDF).

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