A recent litter pick by Keep Abergavenny Tidy has highlighted two major pollution hazards causing problems for the environment and wildlife in the area.
A high number of discarded and toxic cigarette butts, along with dog poo bags were found in the group session by the volunteer litter pickers. Since, they have appealed for people to dispose of all their rubbish safely – or take it home.
Although smokers are now in a minority, “masses of casually discarded cigarette butts” were found in drains and on the ground; despite Monmouthshire County Council providing several ashtrays in the town, such as outside the Tesco store in Frogmore Street. These contain toxic chemicals and can seep into water courses impacting the environment.
According to KAT coordinator, Helen Trevor Davies, the number of dog poo bags was “equally concerning”
Fifteen volunteers turned out for the last monthly litter pick and collectively gathered fifteen orange bags of litter and three purple bags of bottles.
Since the relaunch in March 2019, KAT has collected more than 3000 bags of litter and has become a significant arm of the litter strategy developed by Monmouthshire County Council and Abergavenny Town Council.
“The general view is that littering is as bad as ever but there is considerable public concern and support about the litter problem. More people are volunteering for KAT and this is much appreciated,” said Helen.
“KAT has begun to liaise with business owners in the town and the group litter picks enable useful conversations.”
In addition to attending the group litter picks, some KAT members look after their own patch, noting points of improvement.
Arthur Murphy, one of KAT's most committed litter pickers, goes out about three to four times a week. In just one-hour last week, he picked up 28 mostly beer bottles and six bags of litter. He said that the litter was as bad as ever, but that awareness of prevention seemed to be increasing, stating: “there is a lot of public concern and more litter pickers”.
Meanwhile, another KAT member, Joyce Neale who regularly litter picks the Llanfoist layby on the A465, has re-iterated KAT’s call for more facilities for lorry drivers.
Beyond this, there are positives on the horizon. Keep Abergavenny Tidy and partner groups have started an exciting new eco-project with King Henry VIII School inspiring youngsters to safeguard the environment.
Monthly meetings have been held between representatives from the different groups and fifteen students from the school’s Eco Committee to discuss and act on litter prevention.
The project is led by Mr Jake Parkinson, the school’s Deputy Head and is supported by KAT members, Maggie O'Connor, coordinator Helen Trevor Davies and others, with Sue Parkinson from Monmouthshire County Council, Tom Ward-Jackson from Keep Wales Tidy and Emily McDonagh and Josh Carey, both police Community Support Officers.
This project started in January and so far, has involved a survey of bins in the school grounds as well as a survey of the litter problem.
Two litter picking sessions have since been held in the school grounds. In the latest one, the KAT coordinator and fellow volunteer Joyce Neale were joined by the police CSOs. The sessions were regarded as a great success, with four bags of litter collected by the students.
Helen praised all the students for their approach, highlighting one group who showed incredible team skills in manoeuvring with litter picks a bucket from behind a high wire fence into a bag for collection.
With different generations working together, Abergavenny continues their path to make the town a clean and biodiverse place, where all are proud to live.
KAT usually holds group litter picks on the first Tuesday of the month. For updates, please contact the coordinator by email on [email protected]; check the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AberLitter/ or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/aber_litter/ or Twitter @KeepAbergTidy.