A volunteer on litter picking duty in Johnstown. Photo courtesy JTT Facebook page.

'Green Kilometre Scheme' to combat litter

Meath County Council has launched a Green Kilometre scheme to encourage the public to look after a stretch of rural road in their area by litter picking and planting.

The launch comes in the week that the Irish Business Against Litter League placed Navan fourth from the bottom in the league and dubbed the town as "littered."

The scheme invites individuals/groups to choose approximately a kilometre (or longer) stretch of road/loop in their area- preferably a quiet, local road in terms of safety. The group or individual would then commit to maintaining the chosen stretch over the course of the year.

With over 3,600 kilometres of roads in the county, the council points out there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

The council has decided to enlist the help of the many groups and individuals around the county who would like to contribute to their local community, especially since Covid.

An increase in walking and cycling since the lockdowns began has made many people aware of both the litter that may be seen along the roadside, but also the wildlife that exists in the hedgerows and roadside margins.

People may also notice built heritage features such as old gates, water pumps etc.

Incentives of some native trees, litter pickers, bags and gloves are on offer for all participating individuals/groups and if they wish they can arrange for an adviser (when restrictions allow) to visit to give advice in relation to planting, care of heritage features etc.

The work that can be carried out includes removing litter, planting appropriate native trees and shrubs, restoring heritage features such as old farm gates or walls (permission from landowners should be obtained first and protected structures should only be maintained following professional advice), reporting illegal dumping.

Other tasks include improving hedges (sections of traditional hedge laying would be very welcome) and cleaning and maintaining signs.

The council stresses however, that hedge cutting is banned from 1st March to 1st September.

The council has a selection of birch, alder, rowan, whitethorn, blackthorn and beech whips to distribute.

Some of the saplings will be sent out in February and later applications will receive their saplings in the October/November for winter planting season.

Anybody who wishes to participate should fill out the Green Kilometre Participation Form on the council website and return it to environment@meathcoco.ie or by post to Environment Section, Meath County Council, Buvinda House, Dublin Rd, Navan, Co Meath.

The council urges participants to ensure they follow all covid restrictions, stay within your 5km zone, observe social distancing, wash and sanitise hands before and after litter picking, place litter directly into bags and store bags in safe place for collection.

If you come across bags dumped in your area, report the to the council, don’t open them.

Wear and use PPE and always follow road safety advice when out walking or litter picking.