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Opinion: Penicuik’s Litterers Should Be Ashamed

The carelessly discarded litter in Beeslack Woods is holding the woodland to ransom but who is the culprit behind this crime against nature, and who will be the saviour, if it’s not too late?

It is the first piece of woodland you see driving down the A701 passing Mauricewood, but this wood sits in silence, grasped by a horrible disease, vandalism. This disease has slowly spread, travelling from the roadside down into the depths of woodland and now you cannot navigate through the piles of Autumn’s leaves without uncovering a piece of rubbish, most likely a takeaway box or a hot food bag from Penicuik’s favourite supermarket, you guessed it, Tesco.

Driving along the main road you would not know that this woodland was anything other than green, but from the roadside the vandalism is obvious. Empty crisp packets, caffeinated drink bottles and hot food lunch wrappings scar the landscape. Dumped by someone with no respect for their community, they sit waiting for the biodegrading to kick in, for some they’re in for a long wait. The problem has now got so bad that if layers of rubbish could produce oil, Penicuik would have a flourishing new industry. That isn’t going to happen though and this rubbish isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Nature isn’t capable of producing this waste, so it is evident that there is a horrible problem in Penicuik; a faction of the community has stopped caring about where they live. Continued below the gallery. For full size images click here >


This faction is causing some horrific damage, as you’ve just seen in the gallery above, and they need to be held accountable for their misdeeds. Unfortunately those responsible are mostly children.

Every lunchtime five hundred pupils duly march to satisfy their hunger with some knosh from Tesco, or the neighbouring chippy. Whilst dragging themselves back to school, they intermittently finish an item of food and are faced with the question, “What do I do with the rubbish?”  With a lack of bins there’s only one option, chuck it into the woodland, or if they’re on the other side of the road, God forbid, into the gardens of local residents. “Oh it won’t matter, someone will pick it up” is probably what their minds are thinking, however this couldn’t be much further from the truth. If that litter is anywhere other than the path, it will not get the opportunity to go to the landfill site it aspires to go to. This attitude has now caused a huge litter problem and someone must answer for this disgrace. There are four parties who could help stop this problem:

The pupils are from Beeslack Community High School and, even though this path is out with the boundaries of the campus, the school still has a duty to the surrounding area to keep it in good state of repair. Are they actively warning pupils of the risks of littering, after all if caught a £60 fine can be enforced? It would seem not. However the establishment doesn’t control the minds of their children, and short of implementing a patrol of litter monitors, there is very little the school could do to catch the culprits. Anyhow they need to re-evaluate how they are informing their younger years about caring for the environment; that would be a start.

Next we move onto the council, it’s their pavement and their bins so they are as much to blame as anyone else. It would seem that there just aren’t enough bins along this crucial stretch of road. After Eastfield Farm Road, pupils are faced with only two small dog waste bins, which quickly overflow during peak hours. Either larger bins are needed or bins need to be placed more frequently. In between bins, signage should remind potential litterers of the dangers of littering.

The establishments who provide the food, and the subsequent packaging which is irresponsibly discarded of, should also answer for the problem. Are they actively aiding to help clean up the street after lunch? Is their packaging environmentally friendly? Tesco and The Pennycook should look at how they are promoting a litter free community.

Finally that brings me to the parents. Is your child throwing waste into the Beeslack Woods? Not sure? Ask them. Remind them that they could be fined and that they are harming wildlife. Every chip punnet they drop attracts birds. These poor animals can’t distinguish between a pavement and a road, if the chip is on the road, the bird is going to meet a sorry end. It is your child’s community too and they should be proud of it.

Littering is a disgusting habit and it must be stopped, not just in Beeslack Woods but all across the town. If you see someone dropping rubbish, politely stop them and ask them to take it to the next bin, anyone who cares about their town will gladly receive the warning. If you are the one dropping the litter, be warned. You may not be caught today, you may not be caught tomorrow, but one day you will drop a piece of rubbish in the wrong place at the wrong time and you will feel the full force of the law, and it will serve you right.

This May you have the opportunity to help clean up your town. On May 3 there will be a litter pick in Lowrie’s Den, another area that has contracted the littering disease. It is organised by a local who cares about his community, and if you do too, you will be there. There won’t be a Beeslack Wood litter pick this year because the numbers have been so low in the past two years. For Beeslack it looks like it will not see a cure anytime soon.

A Community Litter Pick will be held on Saturday 3 May at 9:30AM in Lowrie’s Den. Participants are asked to meet at the neighbouring car park where they will be provided with equipment.