Lockdown has caused everyone to think about the way we interact with each other and our environment, emphasising the need to help each other and look after our surroundings. It has been lovely to see so many people enjoying the beautiful countryside that surrounds our village. There have been some wonderful pictures shared on social media and the local footpaths have been teeming with walkers. However there seems to be a minority who are unclear as to how to responsibly appreciate the countryside. It has been brought to the attention of the Parish Council that some people are using footpaths through private fields as picnic areas and leaving rubbish behind. It is important to remember that these fields very often have livestock in them, even if not currently visible, and rubbish is harmful to them. Animals also have dietary constraints so never feed the animals. There have been several incidents in the local area where animals have become seriously ill or in the worst case have died because of the negligence of visitors. It is also totally unnecessary and unkind to our beautiful village to litter. Footpaths on private land are for walking and not for picnicking. Please take any litter home with you and dispose of it properly.
It is also very important that walkers respect private property and stick to footpaths. Farms and fields are not for free roaming. We are fortunate to have a great selection of footpaths available in our village, so please plan your walk and don’t trespass or damage crops.
We’re also aware that visitors are collecting dog waste and then hanging it on trees or posts or other strange places and leaving it behind. Please take any dog waste with you. It is totally unacceptable to leave plastic bags hanging around the countryside. Not only is it extremely unhygienic, but it’s also very selfish to expect others to clear it away. It is also important that you do collect dog waste especially in fields with livestock, as this can have a serious effect on their health. Please be considerate and think of others and the countryside.
Whilst out walking last week, I noticed how many cyclists were using footpaths and bridleways and racing past. Having spoken to local horse riders, it is clear they often experience the same problem which leads to horses being spooked. When passing a walker or a rider the right thing to do would be to slow down and announce your presence, simply saying ‘Hello, I’m passing you’ will give the walker and/or rider the chance to move over and prepare for you to pass. Also, please note that bridleways allow cyclists but it is illegal to cycle on a footpath. Let’s try to think of others, so everyone can enjoy whatever form of exercise they are doing. For further information on footpath and bridleway laws please visit this link:
Whilst on the subject of countryside courtesy, I feel it’s also important to raise the subject of bonfires. There have been many complaints regarding people having bonfires.
Tandridge Council always recommends that garden waste should ideally be composted and reused on the garden. While not illegal, burning often causes nuisance and is to be avoided. Causing a nuisance is illegal. Tandridge advises the use of garden shredders and of the garden waste collection service for householders found here: garden waste collection service. There are useful guidelines and recommendations of other more environmentally friendly ways to get rid of waste, which can be found at: https://www.tandridge.gov.uk/Environmental-concerns/Bonfires-and-smoke
Guidance during the COVID-19 crisis is to be ever more considerate. Tandridge have asked that residents across the district think of others and not light bonfires to dispose of their waste. Bonfires create smoke, cause air pollution and prevent people from being in their gardens and can have a bigger impact at this time.
Coronavirus is known to cause serious respiratory problems, which could be made much worse if the sufferer is exposed to smoke from bonfires. Allergy season is heightened this year and many people are suffering as a result. Bonfires exacerbate these health issues.
Bonfires can also become out of control or cause accidents, creating extra pressure on the already busy emergency services.
We understand the closure of our local community recycling centres may create a storage issue for some residents. Please think of others, compost your garden waste where possible, and store your rubbish for disposal when the current emergency is over, rather than burn it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I do hope it gets people thinking more.
Everyone at the Parish Council hope you are all staying safe and well in these uncertain times.
Councillor Rebecca Fuller