Like thousands of other drivers, I am regularly spending several minutes a day sitting in the queues caused by the temporary traffic lights at Carkeel near Saltash.

Thankfully the lights change frequently so the delays are not too bad, but they have been long enough for me to notice one thing: litter!

Ironically the road works are near Dirty Lane, although I am sure the litter problem isn’t how it got its name.

In fact, almost any lane or road could be called dirty. Next time you are out in the car or going for a walk or waiting for a bus, I challenge you take a closer look at the hedges, verges and pavements.

You will soon see wrappers, crisp packets, an old facemask or a Kronenbourg 1664 beer can. Other beers are available, but I seem to see those distinctive blue and red-coloured beer cans most often and in the most remote places.

They are always in the hedges of some of the country lanes I walk along with our dog.

It intrigues me how they got there because the routes I take are not busy with traffic and they’re not near any shops.

But the same could be said for all litter. Where does it come from?

It would never occur to me to throw a beer can or anything else into a hedge.

Some accidentally comes from bins as they’re being emptied, especially if it’s windy. But I can only assume most of the litter is deliberately discarded.

I have always hated litter, but I have become far more aware of it again recently after I was out cycling in a country lane and came across a man who was picking litter out of the hedge.

He wasn’t a council employee, so I am guessing he lived in the area and was simply doing his bit to clean it up. It made me take a closer look at the hedges and the more I looked, the more litter I could see.

Just this morning I also spotted another man with one of those grabbers, picking up litter in a supermarket car park.

And as I mentioned at the start, I have had plenty of time to look at the litter in the hedges along the A388 as I wait to go through the roadworks at Carkeel.

It is everywhere, and yet there have been “Keep Britain Tidy” campaigns running for as long as I can remember.

It was drilled in to us when I was at school more than 40 years ago. So why is there as much litter as ever?

And it’s not just small stuff. A few years ago I helped with a litter pick in the neighbourhood where I used to live near Saltash.

A disused quarry had been used as a dumping ground. We pulled out old mattresses and all manner of bulky metal.


The quarry was off a very narrow footpath alongside a creek, so it must have taken some considerable effort to drag the rubbish there in the first place.

What goes through someone’s mind to do that? Why go to all that effort to dump it in the middle of the countryside?

It would have been far easier surely to go to the fantastic waste and recycling centre in Saltash.

I know it will be partly down to cost. Cowboy contractors who promise to clear a house or a building site for a cheap price and then dump it rather than pay for the proper disposal.

The most brazen example I’ve come across was in a lane near where I live.

I was driving home after a weekend away. The road was littered with huge bags of building site waste, old fixtures and fittings from a house, broken glass. You name it and it was strewn all along the lane.

A quick check with my neighbours revealed this act of fly tipping must have been carried out only a short time before I drove along the lane, because when they had used it earlier it was clear.

So someone thought it was okay to dump a lorry load of waste in a lane in broad daylight.

I reported it straight away to Cornwall Council, and all credit to them, it was cleared in less than 24 hours. But that, of course, is an extra cost to us as council taxpayers.

When I stand in for presenters on BBC Radio Cornwall I often get to interview Emily Stevenson.

She has set up a conservation organisation called Beach Guardian and regularly carries out litter picks on our coastline.

The type of stuff her volunteers find is incredible and the amounts of it are shocking.

It seems we are drowning in a never-ending tide of litter on the coast and inland.

The fines, the campaigns, the education have all failed. The evidence of that failure is all around us.

I don’t know what the answer is, but it is clear that there will always be people who think it’s okay to throw rubbish on the ground or drive out to a remote country lane and dump it in the hedge.

Thankfully there are also people like Emily Stevenson, or the man I saw on my bike ride, or the man I spotted in the supermarket car park and the volunteers I joined a few years ago.

It seems like an overwhelming battle, but without that effort I dread to think how much more litter there would be.

So, thank you to the volunteers, the road sweepers, the refuse collectors and recycling centre staff, who are all trying to keep our beautiful part of the country clean and tidy.

Bye for now.