Norfolk is wonderful, let’s not spoil it through laziness and ignorance

PUBLISHED: 11:22 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:22 24 May 2019

Should restaurants like McDonalds be forced to pay a 'rubbish levy'?

Should restaurants like McDonalds be forced to pay a 'rubbish levy'?

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

Editor David Powles is sick of the sight of rubbish littering Norfolk’s roadsides.

Unsightly and unnecessary. There should be no excuse for rubbish on our streets.  Picture: Neil DidsburyUnsightly and unnecessary. There should be no excuse for rubbish on our streets. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Over the past few months I've developed a bit of an obsession which I fear is destined to firmly put me into the grumpy old man category.

Roughly once a week I run the Hethersett to Norwich route into work and there's a part of this otherwise lovely journey that always gets my blood boiling.

You see it was around a year ago that a new McDonalds drive-thru restaurant opened up on the Thickthorn roundabout and since then I've become flabbergasted by just how messy the roads nearby have become.

But my anger is not particularly directed at the fast-food chain for this problem - more the people who visit and seem to think it acceptable they get rid of their waste by simply throwing it out of the car window.

On my last trip into the city I decided to have a count up for the purposes of this column (it's always important to have something to take your mind off the growing tiredness in your legs when running!).

In just one mile on either side of the restaurant I spotted 33 separate pieces of litter. Some 26 of them carried the McDonalds logo and included large food bags, coffee and soft drink cups and straws and more. Elsewhere there were cans of alcohol, plastic bottles and even a nappy, presumably dirty.

And sadly it isn't just consigned to this part of our county, as I'm sure all of you are more than used to the depressing sight of litter on the side of dual carriageways, in our town and city centres and large piles of rubbish dumped in country lanes. I have a running route where that's a particular problem too.

What I don't understand is the mentality of those people who put it there.

What is it about their lives that means they are unable to simply keep a piece of rubbish in their car and then put it into a bin once they arrive at their destination?

It's not as if the damage actions like this can cause gets little or no publicity.

Over the past few years the national and local news agenda has been full of stories highlighting the impact littering can do to our natural world. Even Sir David Attenborough, one of our national treasures, has brought it home with his fantastic documentaries on plastics in the sea.

But still there are people out there so selfish they simply do not give a damn about the damage they cause or how sad a scene they are creating.

So what can be done about the problem?

In the case of the McDonalds where I live, as well as other roadside restaurants, I would like to see it become something they are forced to help tackle. Perhaps they should pay a 'waste levy' which goes towards clearing up any mess their customers create?

I'd also more than welcome the increased use of on-the-spot fines for those behind the littering, although that does take time and resource. Hit these people where it hurts.

However, both of these are in some ways defeatist measures that almost accept people won't change their habits. I'd like to think this is a battle of wills which the good side can win.

And to do that education remains key. Media like ourselves have a duty to keep reminding people the issues waste can cause, but also the value in having a sense of pride for the place you call home.

Meanwhile schools and organisations can all play their own parts in cementing a sense of civic pride and duty at an early stage of people's lives. In my own village I often see Cub and Scout groups out and about picking up litter, as well as village organisations. It gives me great heart and that's the sort of activity we need to see more of.

Norfolk is a wonderfully beautiful place to live. For heaven's sake let's not spoil it through laziness and ignorance.

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