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Earl Peel: I should very much like to support the amendment.

Lord Whitty: It may be for the convenience of the Committee if at this stage I indicate the view of the Government on this matter. Although it is arguable that enforcement and restrictions are already covered under subsection (2)(c), I rather agree that this matter should be made explicit on the face of the Bill. If the Committee agrees, I shall take this away and provide

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an amendment which covers not only Clauses 21 and 22 but any exclusions or restrictions under Chapter II. I hope that that is acceptable to the noble Lord.

Lord Glentoran: I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing to take it away. I am sure that he will find the right terminology when we come to Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 18 agreed to.

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 223A:


    After Clause 18 insert the following new Clause--

LITTER

(" .--(1) Access authorities shall make arrangements with the owner and occupier of access land for the collection of litter left by persons exercising the right conferred by section 2(1).
(2) The arrangements may include the employment of wardens or other persons appointed by the access authority to collect litter or the making of payments to the owner or occupier for the collection of litter.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 223A, which is not dissimilar, seeks to insert the following new clause:


    "(1) Access authorities shall make arrangements with the owner and occupier of access land for the collection of litter left by persons exercising the right conferred by section 2(1).


    (2) The arrangements may include the employment of wardens or other persons appointed by the access authority to collect litter or the making of payments to the owner or occupier for the collection of litter".

It is a sad fact that when walking in the country all too many people bring with them their dirty habits and drop litter. We debated this matter the other night. Inevitably, it varies from area to area and in direct relation to the numbers of people in a particular part of the country.

I query the strength of the commitment to the environment of many people when they cannot even bother to take home their litter. We are talking about a minority of people. Litter is unpleasant and unsightly. I refer to sweet papers and cigarette packets. You can bet your bottom dollar that landscapes near towns are sullied by Coca-Cola paper cups and the wrappings of McDonald's vegiburgers, beefburgers or whatever else. I remember that when I frequented Snowdonia National Park several days a week for most of the year--because I was paid to do so, and loved it--there were voluntary litter collection days. People who regularly visited the park, for example climbers, members of local clubs and people who did the kind of work in which I was engaged, which was to deal with young people, set off with rucksacks and spent the day collecting litter. One would be amazed how much litter was collected in one day, usually after bank holidays, even in the 1960s when the number of people was not as great as today. I do not believe that life has changed that much. Litter will remain a serious problem. I am sure that those closer to the national parks than I am will be able to tell us something about that in a moment.

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However, litter also consists of glass bottles, many of which break as they are thrown away. Shards of broken glass are dangerous and can pierce leather and rubber boots and cause serious injury to livestock and wildlife. Another danger which may arise that is directly attributable to broken glass is fire as a result of sun reflection. Whole heaths and forests may be set alight in times of strong sunshine and drought as a result of a bit of broken glass acting as a magnifying glass, with potentially devastating effects. We have seen plenty of examples of that recently on the western side of the United States. Believe it or not, I have seen heath fires caused in that way in my part of the world. Such conditions occur only in one summer in 50 in Northern Ireland; maybe that is why.

Litter will be a problem. We believe that if this amendment is inserted into the Bill it will improve the management of the litter problem. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Williamson of Horton: I rise to support the amendment. In a fairly long life in which I have walked, roamed and even rambled in the countryside I have probably seen more crisp packets than cowslips, or even grouse. Therefore, it is a little odd that we have before us a Bill of 114 pages--it is a rather heavy read--which is about the countryside but does not appear to include anywhere the word "litter".

Those who enjoy the benefits of the right to roam would reasonably expect this point to be covered in the Bill. We shall not change the situation in which, at least close to the designated access points, there will be a good deal of litter. That is a fact. I do not blame any particular group. The amendment has the advantage that, first, it is intelligible, which is very welcome; secondly, it does not give rise to the question whether it should say "shall" or "may". The amendment provides that the authority shall make arrangements for the collection of litter that is left in the countryside, which is quite clear. That is the main point that we seek to make. It goes on to say that those arrangements may include certain ways of doing it. Therefore, it is open to the access authorities to decide how to do it.

I believe that it is reasonable to make some provision to deal with a problem on which ordinary people walking in the countryside so often comment. We could clear that up by the amendment now proposed, and I support it.

Lord Judd: Whether or not this amendment is the right one, this is a serious issue which needs to be addressed. I have noticed in National Trust property that if wardens are not regularly working the situation can rapidly deteriorate. The problem is that if only a small minority of people--I believe it is a very small minority--abuse the situation the whole character of land begins to change. Then other people begin to slip. The only way to tackle the problem is to have very high standards that are maintained. They set the cultural

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pattern. There is a very important issue here. I am not sure that this is the right amendment. But I am certain that it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Lord Monson: Perhaps I may support the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, in his amendment and say that the position is even worse than he has described. In country areas not only are Coca-Cola bottles, crisp packets and hamburger cartons discarded; so are syringes and needles. The danger posed can hardly be over-emphasised.

Lord Marlesford: I strongly support the amendment. There is absolutely no doubt that in terms of enjoyment litter is damaging to the countryside. As a large part of the Bill is about increasing the enjoyment of the countryside, litter is not something that can be tolerated. The Government have made it reasonably clear that additional costs arising as a result of imposing access on private landowners will be met from public funds. This is clearly such an additional cost. It seems reasonable that it should come into that category.

There is no doubt that if litter is not picked up more litter arrives. Litter attracts litter. I am the chairman of the Marlesford parish council. One of my main duties--self-imposed--is once a month to go around the village with a litter-picker. For a few days there is no litter. Then someone leaves some, and quite quickly the amount grows again. If this gets out of control the minority who dispose of litter will ruin everything for the majority who would not dream of so doing. It is a really important issue.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: I support the amendment very strongly indeed. It must be welcome to the Government because, as we have heard, litter is currently a very considerable problem in the countryside generally. It is not the first time that I have spoken on this matter in the Chamber. Part of the problem is that so much of modern litter is indestructible. Plastic bags, tin cans, aluminium cans and so on have a certain capacity to resist all weathers and all attempts at disposal. In my own part of Snowdonia litter is such a problem that I have taken it in hand myself. Every walk I take I aim to pick up litter and dispose of it properly.

I am bound to tell the Committee of a recent experience. On an open road, close to my home, someone disposed of a canvas chair--a picnic chair--and simply left it there. I thought that that would be a one and only occurrence, but now someone has left a door. It really defies the imagination as to how anyone decides to dispose of these things at the roadside in the country. Heaven only knows where they come from.

I give those examples to show to the Committee what is likely to be an ever-worsening situation. Particularly with the increase in access land, we shall certainly have a great deal more litter. I, and others, will not be at all surprised if cars are disposed of on the mountainside. It is already happening. Our fear is that the situation will worsen. Something has to be done.

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Baroness Masham of Ilton: I support the amendment. It has not been mentioned that rubbish is dangerous to stock. Cattle can graze around in a field and hoover up plastic bags or can lids. That can be very dangerous. I should like to add to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Roberts. On Tuesday, as I drove to the House, I saw that a mattress had been thrown over a hedge.


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