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Highlands are heavenly – Highland Council backs Zero Waste Scotland campaign urging people to bin litter or take it home

By Philip Murray

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One of the new campaign posters.
One of the new campaign posters.

BIN it or take it home! That's the message visitors to the Highlands are being urged to follow after the launch of a new campaign.

Highland Council is backing Zero Waste Scotland’s new campaign: Scotland is Stunning – Let’s Keep It That Way, which aims to inspire people getting out and about to enjoy the great outdoors without leaving litter – reminding them they should either bin litter or take it home.

The campaign, which highlights the beauty of Scotland’s lochs and mountains, city parks and country woodlands, is backed by the Scottish Government and Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Highland Council is supporting the campaign with posters to let visitors know that Highland is Heavenly – Let’s Keep it that Way, featuring an iconic image. The posters will be placed at major tourist sites across the region.

As lockdown eases, local businesses and the tourism industry in general across Scotland are counting on an increase in trade to support them through the difficult economic times.

The Highlands' unspoiled scenery and parks play a vital role in encouraging people to enjoy our region and support businesses, but the council has warned that this can only happen if areas of beauty remain in their original pristine state.

Highland Council leader Cllr Margaret Davidson said: “We warmly welcome visitors to the Highlands and we ask everyone to ‘leave no trace’.

“People can report litter using the report form on the council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/report. We can issue a £80 fine for dropping litter. Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste. We can issue fines from £200 to £20,000 or the offender can receive six months in prison (up to five years if hazardous waste is dumped).”

Cllr Davidson added: “As well as being an eyesore, dropping litter is a criminal offence. Discarded waste can also be a danger to young children and animals, and it is estimated that 80 per cent of marine litter washing up on our beaches started out on land.”

Cllr Allan Henderson, chairman of the council’s communities and place committee, said: “Although we are certainly not fully out of lockdown Highland Council has worked hard to reopen recycling centres.

“The council has also installed extra bins across the Highlands, as well as extra uplifts to try to keep the Highlands in its pristine state. We welcome this approach from Zero Waste Scotland and see it as an opportunity to educate visitors in our country ways – leave nothing but good will.”

Iain Gulland, Zero Waste Scotland chief executive, said: “People are understandably keen to enjoy everything Scotland has to offer this summer, and onwards. If you are camping, exercising, having a barbecue or just enjoying the scenery, have fun, but remember to bin what you don’t need or take it with you.

“I’m delighted Highland Council is getting involved in our campaign. Go home with happy memories and leave the Highlands litter-free so others can do the same. We know Scotland is stunning, let’s keep it that way!”

Cllr Maxine Smith, chairwoman of Highland Council’s tourism committee, said: “Tourists are welcome to the Highlands but we need them to respect our countryside.We know we don’t have the perfect solution for everything we need to do in the Highlands to embrace the new wave in staycationers, but we have started to address the issues of the infrastructure that is needed.

“Of course, with very few resources to call upon this will take some time. We hope to receive further funding over the years to enable more things to be put in place, such as toilets, parking areas, sluice facilities etc.It is hard to keep up with demand.So as long as there’s a mutual respect between visitors and our land we will be content for now.”

Community groups and other local organisations keen to spread the message to day-trippers and staycationers to bin litter or take it home, will find a free downloadable campaign toolkit available online – including customisable digital tools and posters. Meanwhile, the campaign can be followed on social media using the hashtag #BinYourLitter

Barry Fisher, CEO of Keep Scotland Beautiful, added: “We welcome this new campaign highlighting the beauty of Scotland and all it has to offer. Litter levels across Scotland are unacceptable, and in many places are getting much worse.

"Alongside this campaign we will continue to offer support to all those who have already stepped up to tackle this problem in their own communities with litter clean ups and projects to improve and protect the places they care about.”

To download the campaign toolkit, or for further information, please visit www.managingourwaste.scot/litter.

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