The problem of littering in the Highlands and Islands has been raised in the Scottish Parliament by MSP Donald Cameron.
Mr Cameron pressed Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon on what support the Scottish Government will provide to communities in his region during a debate in the chamber yesterday (Wednesday 9th September).
Speaking later Mr Cameron said: “Although the summer is drawing to a close, and visitor numbers starting to fall, we can’t let this matter slip otherwise we will be facing the same problems next year."
“While the local authorities in my region are doing all they can to deal with the vast amounts of litter and waste being left behind, frankly they have been overwhelmed by the scale of the problem in some areas."
“It is crucial that next week’s national summit, which is being convened by VisitScotland, comes up with an action plan and that ministers provide appropriate levels of support."
“Local communities must not be left to cope with a second tsunami of rubbish in 2021.”
The text of Donald Cameron’s exchange with Mairi Gougeon is provided below:
Littering (Highlands and Islands)
To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to tackle littering in the Highlands and Islands. (S5O-04560)
First, I want to make our position absolutely clear: littering is unlawful and unacceptable. To help combat recent issues, we have, with partners Zero Waste Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful, developed an anti-littering campaign that includes bespoke materials for 21 local authorities, including Highland Council. We continue collective efforts to encourage everyone to respect their surroundings and are working with the relevant public agencies to deliver a co-ordinated approach, including raising awareness about behaving responsibly when out in the countryside.
Highland Council is backing Zero Waste Scotland’s new campaign—“Scotland is stunning, let’s keep it that way”—and is placing posters at popular tourist sites that ask visitors to “leave no trace”. However, given the severe problems of littering across the Highlands and Islands this summer, causing significant concerns for local communities, what further support can the Scottish Government provide to local authorities to help them to promote that message?
I am aware of the issues that have been faced, particularly in the Highlands and Islands but also in other parts of Scotland. The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism met Highland Council and a few of the community councils in July this year to see what more could be done and what further action could be taken. I believe that a national summit is to be held on Monday, which will be chaired by the cabinet secretary and has been convened by VisitScotland, to look at what more can be done to tackle the situation and what can be done in the short, medium and longer terms to fully address those issues.
Information on Visit Scotland’s litter campaign is available here: https://www.visitscotland.org/news/2020/zero-waste-scotland-campaign