Shocking figures reveal how much rubbish is dumped at popular Peak District spots

It is one of the most beautiful – and visited – locations in the Peak District countryside.

Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 5:44 pm
Updated Friday, 24th May 2019, 3:33 pm
National Park rangers remove around 60 tonnes of litter from the Peak District each year

Monsale Dale is a popular destination for thousands of people from Sheffield each year, with crowds enjoying the views and walks through the old railway tunnel that lead to Bakewell and beyond. 

But it is also a litter hotspot within the Peak District National Park, it has been revealed recently. 

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National Park rangers have found that the worst places for littering in the Peak District are below the Headstone Viaduct in Monsal Dale – as people throw litter from the bridge, and Topley Pike Wood, near Wye Dale – where people park in the lay-by next to the A6 en route between Buxton and Taddington, and throw litter over the wall.

Rangers are now part of a new campaign asking visitors to think twice before leaving litter in the Peak District, as figures estimate that more than 60 tonnes of rubbish a year is being removed from some of the most popular locations.

The cost of removing it stands at a shocking £37,000 a year.  Rangers say that simple measures such as visitors taking home what they bring into the National Park means that money can instead be spent on looking after the same locations, where litter is the biggest problem.

A park spokesman said: “Whilst our rangers work hard to keep the National Park tidy for visitors and safe for wildlife, we also need people to help by taking their own rubbish home whenever possible.

“The Peak District is Britain’s first National Park, and should be somewhere every visitor is proud and excited to visit. “What our data and surveys seem to suggest, is that many items being disposed of in bins or discarded as litter - such as single-use plastics and wrappers - are materials that can easily and cleanly be taken out of the National Park by visitors themselves.”

A Sheffield Hallam University graduate study undertaken in 2018 suggested that one in four items of plastic-based litter observed by visitors in the Peak District were single-use plastic bottles.

Around one in five items being crisp or sweet wrappers, or plastic bags. Over 80 per cent of visitors said they had seen plastic litter at some point during their visit.

Discarded litter contributes to overall pollution and it can adversely affect fragile plant, animal and bird species and it can also lead to an increased risk of fire, which can then destroy large areas of land.

At the moment there are lots of nesting birds, including ground nesting species like lapwing and curlew, which are birds that are in decline nationally.

It is important that these species continue to return to the Peak District year after year to raise their chicks. Other returning species include ring ouzels.

Dumping rubbish in the Peak can adversely affect the numbers of these species breeding successfully, so it is important to dispose of rubbish responsibly. 

It is also important to keep dogs on a leash and to keep them under control so that they do not disturb wildlife. 

The Peak District National Park Authority, which manages a total of 45 car parks and seven visitor centre and cycle hire facilities, say that more than 50 tonnes of general waste and 10 tonnes of recyclable waste is collected by teams each year.

Chiefs say that while they already provide bins alongside visitor centres and cafes, the biggest problems are experienced at more remote locations and car parks where litter is brought to the area by visitors directly. To support a reduction in the availability of plastics within the Peak District, the National Park Authority has recently added the sale of reusable water bottles to an earlier re-usable hot drink cup campaign - #MyPeakCup, launched in 2018.

A number of National Park visitor and cycle hire centres are now also taking part in the ‘free refill’ water bottle scheme.

Meanwhile in Sheffield, an aspiring entrepreneur who turned his back on a lucrative career in software development to do his bit for the environment has embarked upon a one man mission to transform the way we purchase everyday goods by banning plastic packaging from his eco-friendly shop.

Mathew Reynolds launched The Bare Alternative in November 2018 after securing help from the Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme and alternative finance provider Finance For Enterprise.

Unlike many shops which rely upon pre-packaged goods, almost all of the products he sells are sold in loose quantities, with customers expected to bring their own containers.

Today, his zero waste shop on Abbeydale Road sells more than 200 different products ranging from exotic teas and coffees to everyday household goods including washing powder, cleaning products and even plastic free toothbrushes.

Since the doors opened, Mathew has built up a loyal customer base and he has also launched a number of initiatives aimed at helping local residents to cut down on their plastic waste. He also uses his shop as a drop off point for people to deal with typically hard to deal with waste such as crisp packets, toothpaste tubes and biscuit packaging.