Whats Happening To Hampshires Green And Pleasant Lanes

IMG_1513An early morning bike ride is one of life’s pleasures, as the sun rises you get a unique view of wildlife and the countryside however this morning revealed another not so welcome site as the road at the edge of our village was the new home for a large quantity of old oil filters, prop shafts, motorbike chains and an oil tank that had been emptied of its oil in the roadside ditch and across the road. We had been visited by fly tippers.

This mindless act is I am afraid not an isolated occurrence and on my ride this morning I came across another load of garden waste dumped in a field entrance at Kingsley and a complete divan bed at the side of the road nr Bentworth.

While not wishing to make excuses for this intolerable anti social behaviour it has become more prevalent as charges have been introduced for disposal of rubbish and the tips and recycling centres choose which rubbish to accept and reject with a plethora of rules and regulations. The more difficult it becomes to dispose of rubbish the greater the risk to our countryside and with little chance of detection and enforcement this behaviour for some has become a risk worth taking.

A divan bed dumped on a lane nr Bentworth

A divan bed dumped on a lane nr Bentworth

As well as the fly tipping the country lanes of Hampshire are becoming one big litter bin. On a three mile walk around the village lanes I counted 73 cans and bottles on the immediate road side and that does not include burger boxes or bags and wrappers. My straw poll of litter suggested Lidl is the main supermarket in the area, Fosters the nations favourite beer and Walkers the preferred choice of crisps. Not to be outdone MacDonalds and Costa also share the spotlight and I was also disgusted to note a disposable soiled nappy.

I find it worrying that people think it is acceptable behaviour to just toss this from cars and vans and more so by the numbers of beer cans which would indicate the amount of alcohol that must be consumed in moving vehicles.

I read at the weekend that Winchester council had stopped litter picking on the grounds of health and safety of its operatives but suspect it is more to do with cost saving. It is also an area where local communities whose civic pride in the area where they live can be used as blackmail to delegate litter picking. The longer we ignore the problem the greater the remedy needed to cure it.

Litter is an eternal problem and nowhere is it worse than in the countryside, street cleaning is almost non existent and I was surprised on a ride last week when I came face to face a with a street sweeping lorry on Kingsley Hill. As the vehicle pulled over to let me pass I stopped to chat with the driver about how often we could expect this service. Infrequently was the reply as when the lorry is full the driver had a 70 mile round trip to dispose of the contents which was classed as hazardous waste as it contained vehicle contaminants. My own thoughts were that I would put it back on the fields that it had run off of from and if vehicle contaminants on the roads were that much of a problem the fields that take the water run off from roads were an equal hazard.

A large tractor barely squeezes through the lanes and leave a trail of mud

A large tractor barely squeezes through the lanes and leave a trail of mud

While on the subject of country lanes I would also point out the damage caused by farmers, lanes that are covered in mud and stones by large tractors straight out of the fields. Roads covered in debris when hedge cutting with the tractor flail is in progress, To deposit mud and debris on the lanes is illegal and an extra hazard for cyclists but again there is no appetite for enforcement, surely it is not asking too much to fix a rotating brush to the front of the tractor and become a good neighbour.

Litter is an eternal problem and nowhere is it worse than in the countryside, society needs to change if we are not going to become a rubbish dump similar to some of the third world countries, we seem obsessed with cutting local services and civic pride in our Hampshire countryside seems to be in decline. Some packaging already carries warnings not to litter but we all need to spread the word that littering the countryside will not be tolerated. The fact is we could save billions of pounds and litter could be irradiated overnight if we as a society wanted it to happen. It needs a will and education that dumping litter is not an acceptable practice, sadly both of these are in short supply.

If you do come across or witness unacceptable practices or dumping of litter report it and please, please take your rubbish home and dispose of it properly, I want to enjoy my cycling in Hampshire.