Tourists welcomed back to Bucks

TOURISTS are being welcomed back to the Chilterns as lockdown restrictions start to ease – with the emphasis firmly on enjoying the great outdoors.

The region’s official tourism website Visit Buckinghamshire & The Chilterns is promoting walks, parks, camping and water-based activities as families make plans for their summer holidays.

And The Beyonder has dozens of family days out listed on its What’s On pages, many of them healthy, outdoors – and free.

The Chiltern Conservation Board and the Chiltern Society are promoting more than 20 social distance friendly walks which avoid crowded well-known locations and narrow paths where possible.

Visit Buckinghamshire identifies a number of family friendly walks with guides and fun quizzes included, while The Beyonder has collated a range of nature guides families can use to identify flowers, insects and birds they spot on their wanders.

Lucy Dowson, of Visit Buckinghamshire & The Chilterns, said: “Buckinghamshire is the perfect year-round destination for memorable visits.”

Parks range from Campbell Park in the centre of Milton Keynes with its impressive sculpture to Willen Lake, Black Park, Langley Park and Denham Country Park.

Campsites are slowly re-opening and include Home Farm in Radnage; Shillingridge Glamping; Chadwell Hill Farm, Hedsor Field Camping and Orchard View Farm.

And for water-based fun the The Little Boat Trip starts in the Aylesbury basin and takes you and your family (one household or bubble only at the moment) on a canal boat from the Exchange Theatre through several locks to the Aylesbury marina.

Willen Lake has all sorts of water sports for you to enjoy and the Longridge Activity Centre offers a great range of activities, including canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and dragon boating, while Salters Steamers, which starts at Higginson Park Pier in Marlow, travels down the river to Temple Lock taking in the beautiful Thames scenery.

‘Give litter louts £1,000 fines’

SELFISH litterbugs should face the prospect of £1,000 fines, say campaigners.

With tourists trashing beaches and beauty spots around the country in the wake of the lockdown easing, InYourArea and Clean Up Britain joined forces to launch a nationwide anti-littering campaign called Don’t Trash Our Future.

Spearheaded by a number of famous faces including JLS singer JB Gill, the campaign encourages people to organise local clean-ups, push for higher fines and put pressure on councils to enforce penalties.

The campaign calls for volunteers to organise neighbourhood clean-ups in August and September tackling “grot spots” from parks and beaches to scrubland or messy roadsides.

Supporters are also being asked to sign a petiton calling for the maximum fixed penalty fine for dropping litter in the UK to be raised to £1,000.

Councils are called on to play their part too. Research by Clean Up Britain found the vast majority of local authorities in the UK were not using their enforcement powers enough – with 72% of councils in England and Wales either not enforcing the law at all, or not enforcing it effectively.

Those questioned said littering had got worse since lockdown began to ease and made them miserable, angry, sad or depressed. And the vast majority (97%) thought councils should enforce the law properly.

Don’t Trash Our Future has been backed by a number of high-profile names including JLS singer-turned-farmer JB Gill, a passionate advocate for farming and the environment who has made numerous appearances on Springwatch and Countryfile.

He said: “It’s great to see that people recognise that litter is a public health concern and a major problem.”

The campaign has also received the backing of broadcaster and animal rights campaigner Clare Balding and her partner Alice Arnold, along with TV presenter Gabby Logan and her husband, former Scottish international rugby star Kenny.

Journalist and television presenter Jeremy Paxman is Clean Up Britain’s patron. He said: “It depresses people because mucky surroundings make them feel worthless. It’s expensive – councils across the UK spend over a billion pounds a year trying to clean it up.”

Packham loses HS2 legal challenge

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigner and TV presenter Chris Packham has lost his Court of Appeal challenge over the legality of the HS2 high-speed rail scheme.

He had argued there were failings in the way the government decided to give the project the go-ahead but judges have refused permission for a judicial review into the cabinet’s decision to give the multibillion pound project the “green signal” in February.

Expressing his disappointment in a 10-minute video to his 434,000 Twitter followers, Packham said: “Today is a dark day for us, our wildlife, our environment and our planet. And darker still for our government.”

But he added: “Winning is not giving up – and we’re not giving up.”

Environmentalists say the high-speed rail project is leading to irreversible destruction of ancient habitats and woodlands.

Packham said the case for HS2 should be revisited despite Friday’s ruling. He argues the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on public finances and the need for a green recovery has undone the business and environmental case for the line.

“Obviously we are deeply disappointed by today’s ruling. But the fact is, we are a world away from the place we were when we issued the original claim for judicial review,” he said.

“People now see that a scheme for a railway which will tear up the countryside so that we can shave a few minutes off a journey time, makes no sense in the contemporary workplace.”

HS2 is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. A spokesman for HS2 Ltd told the BBC it took its commitment to the environment “extremely seriously” and there was “safeguarding in place to protect wildlife and other natural assets”.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said the project was “crucial to rebuilding our economy from coronavirus”.

Farmers face fly-tip nightmare

FARMERS around the UK are under siege from fly-tippers.

But campaigners and councils across the country are stepping up the fight to outlaw the waste criminals.

The issue gained national exposure after a dramatic increase in fly-tipping in rural areas reported after the Covid-19 lockdown.

TARGET: Andrew Ward found 40 tons of rubbish dumped on his land

Targets included Lincolnshire farmer Andrew Ward, who hit the national news after finding 40 tons of rubbish had been dumped on his property, costing thousands of pounds to move.

Some areas of the country saw a 300% increase in dumping as householders saw the lockdown period as an ideal time for a spring clean but found local tips closed or busy.

Rural and environmental organisations stress that fly-tipping has a significant impact on rural areas and pose dangers to wildlife.

Another victim was beef and arable farmer Richard Heady, who runs WF Heady and Sons near Milton Keynes in partnership with his father and uncle, and discovered a lorryload of household waste strewn across part of an emerging crop of spring oats.

Although many local authorities had to shut waste recycling centres at the height of the crisis, most have now reopened and initial long queues have reduced. But farmers’ fields, laybys and lanes have become hot spots for DIY remnants, unwanted furniture and garden waste.

One group of concerned organisations in Scotland said: “At a time when farmers are working around the clock to provide food for the nation and trying to keep their businesses running despite being short-staffed, it is heartbreaking to see their land being used as a giant tip.

“Fly-tipping is illegal, ugly and dangerous. It can be harmful to lambs, calves and other animals and wildlife too. But for farmers and other landowners, it is also costly to clean up.”

The National Farmers’ Union says two-thirds of farmers and land owners have been affected.

Andrew Ward told Sky News: “It really makes my blood boil to think that people will probably get away with this. The fact that they can do this to a lovely area, where we have families walking, we have children walking down here, we have wildlife.

DUMPING GROUND: fly-tipping on Andrew Ward’s farm included commercial industrial waste

“It’s on an absolutely huge scale; this is not your one man and a van who turns up at a house, this is probably three lorry loads of commercial industrial waste.”

Mr Ward’s partner, Rhonda Thompson, an NFU adviser in the county, said: “Fly-tipping needs to be regarded as a much more serious crime and I think the penalties have to be fairly hefty. The fines that are currently around just aren’t enough to deter people from doing this.”

DETERRENT EFFECT: campaigners want to see tougher penalties for fly-tipping

The Department for Food and Rural Affairs said that fly-tipping can lead to unlimited fines and a prison sentence of up to five years. But campaigners maintain prosecutions are rare in some areas and have called for heavier punishments for less serious littering offences.

Buckinghamshire County Council enforcement officer David Rounding confirmed fly-tipping in the county increased during lockdown, particularly smaller dumping incidents which might involve householders dumping their own waste.

But he added: “We have also seen even higher rates than previously of cross-border offending and we have been working in partnership with neighbour authorities where appropriate to address and seek to reduce this. It is still the case that most of the waste dumped in Buckinghamshire was transported into Bucks from outside.”

CALL FOR WITNESSES: offences across Buckinghamshire are pursued through the courts

He said surveillance work and eyewitness reports had helped in an ongoing programme of detection and enforcement through the lockdown period. Offences in the county are regularly prosecuted and in future warnings will be replaced by £400 fixed penalty notices.

He said: “The council has recently adopted powers to serve fixed penalties of £400 (the maximum rate allowed by Government) against people fly-tipping waste and also against people transferring their waste to unauthorised waste carriers.   These powers will be used in addition to the existing use of court prosecution and will replace zero penalty simple cautions in the enforcement mix at the lower end of the scale.  This means that people who were previously cautioned will now be fined.”

Householders are warned that when using waste carriers they make payment only online or by other traceable means so that they are able to provide the waste carrier’s details should their waste be found later to have been fly-tipped.

“Enforcement work by definition always follows offences and we will see many fixed penalties imposed and court cases which follow later through the usual process,” said Mr Rounding.

Walkers warned about hairy hazard

WALKERS at Stoke Common are being urged to watch out for dangerous caterpillars which can be a hazard to humans and animals.

 The caterpillars of the oak processionary moth are pests of oak trees and have been found on the site.

TOXIC: caterpillars of the oak processionary moth nest on an oak PICTURE: Falko Seyffarth

OPM was first accidentally introduced to England in 2005 and is subject to a government-led programme of survey and control to minimise its spread and impact.

The caterpillars have the distinctive habit of moving about in late spring and early summer in nose-to-tail processions, from which they derive their name.

Walkers have been warned to steer clear of the caterpillars, whose hairs contain a toxin that can cause itchy skin rashes as well as eye and throat irritations.

Residents can report sightings but that the caterpillars should only be removed by pest control operators because of the health risk.

Pets, children and forestry workers who come into close contact with the caterpillars are most at risk and anyone who experiences an itchy skin rash or other allergic symptoms after being near oak trees in these areas should phone NHS111 or consult their GP.

Each caterpillar has around 62,000 hairs, which they can eject. The brown moths, which are harmless, live for only two to three days in July or August.

Action is taken to screen trees imported from Europe, but the species is established in most of Greater London and in some surrounding counties and there are restrictions on movements of oak plants from this protected zone.

HAIRY HAZARD: each caterpillar has thousands of hairs which can be ejected

The Forestry Commission and Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) have been working to identify infestations and spray infected trees.

Large populations can strip whole oak trees bare, leaving them more vulnerable to other pests and diseases, and to other stresses, such as drought.

Older caterpillars develop tiny hairs containing an irritating protein which on contact can cause skin rashes and eye irritations, as well as sore throats and breathing difficulties, in people and animals.

The caterpillars can shed the hairs when threatened or disturbed. The hairs can be blown by the wind and they accumulate in the caterpillars’ nests which can fall to the ground.

Signs have been erected at Stoke Common to warn visitors about the risk.

What to spot by the waterside

WILDLIFE lovers who live near water can pick up a free spotter’s guide to birds, insects and animals they might look out for on a waterside wander.

The Canal and River Trust has put together a free family nature guide to what walkers might find on, in and by the water.

The trust encourages families to take a trip to their nearest waterway and see how many different species they can spot.

The guide complements an online introduction to more than two dozen species that can be found by water, from bees and dragonflies to owls and kingfishers, newts and water voles.

The charity safeguards some 2,000 miles of wildlife-rich waterways which form a “green-blue ribbon” between hundreds of wildlife habitats, and looks after hundreds of bridges and aqueducts to ensure boats can move freely around the network.

For more information about the work of the trust, or how to volunteer with them, see their website. Apply for the free nature guide using the link above.

Bookshops begin a fresh chapter

BOOKSHOP business has been booming as desperate readers have flocked back to browse the shelves for the first time in three months.

But times are still tough for small independent booksellers across the Chilterns as they fight to bounce back from weeks of lockdown.

Almost four million books were sold in the first six days after bookshops reopened in England on June 15 – a jump of over 30% on the same week last year.

But in one survey more than a third of regular customers said they still felt unsure about returning to bricks-and-mortar premises now lockdown has eased.

Booksellers were forced to shut up shop on March 23 in response to the coronavirus pandemic and were unable to reopen for 12 weeks.

During that period, they were only able to offer online or click-and-collect services – and while the amount of time people spent reading books almost doubled during lockdown, much of that custom was picked up by online retailing giant Amazon.

The good news for retailers was that 3.8m print books worth £33m were sold in England in the week to June 20, the best performance for that week of the year since the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix back in 2003.

Independent bookshops have been thriving in recent years, with numbers growing for three years on the trot to almost 900 in 2019, including local newcomers like Books On The Hill in St Albans.

The Booksellers Association’s managing director Meryl Halls described the increase as “heartening” and predicted bookshops would roar back once the coronavirus pandemic had passed.

Speaker in a live Twitter chat hosted by The Bookseller, she said: “Book lovers will return from this crisis hungry for human connection, desperate for conversation, stimulation, inspiration. Booksellers will be there, arms open.”

Antonia Mason, who runs Books On The Hill with her mum, Clare Barrow, said: “We as a team have been overwhelmed with our community’s kind words and support over the last few months. It’s been incredible, especially considering we had only been open a few months prior to lockdown.”

Although many bookshops were able to respond quickly to the shutdown, some had a weak online presence and were unable to compete with the service provided by Amazon – with the crisis undermining the advantage of small local businesses being able to provide personal contact, relaxed browsing and advice.

Worries about maintaining rental payments, coping with supply chain problems and having to furlough staff added to the pressures but Meryl Halls added: “I am unutterably proud of booksellers at the moment—they are weathering a historic battering and we will do all we can to keep the sector intact.”

Asked what the first week back in business would look like, she responded: “We will return from this with a new appreciation for each other, for human endeavour, for writing, for community. There will be lots of hugging. Lots of tears. Some wine. Many parties.”

Back in April on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Waterstones managing director James Daunt echoed Halls’ assertion about the importance of books and bookshops.

He said: “Books are important, they help people isolate, they help mental wellbeing and we are in fact experiencing huge numbers of sales, particularly of children’s books and educational books.”

Prior to lockdown, bookshops had been enjoying a growth in trade spurred on by a thriving “shop local” movement and environmental considerations, helping them to weather the Amazon “firestorm” – the astonishing success of the trillion-dollar company able to promise overnight delivery and customer reading recommendations at the touch of a mouse. 

Since June 15 bookshops around the country have shared their delight that “lovely customers” have come “racing back”, but have been forced to cope with reduced opening hours, social distancing challenges and in some cases the need to continue delivering to customers who are shielding or reluctant to venture out.

Booksellers have also had to introduced a range of safety measures for customers, including hand sanitiser stations, plastic screens and one-way systems. Footfall predictably remains lower than before the pandemic, with few able to boast outside seating areas like The Book House in Thame.

Nonetheless Meryl Halls believes consumers are understanding that high streets are more than just shops and transactions, with savvy shoppers also anxious to reduce waste and shop more ethically. 

“Food miles, gratuitous expenditure, waste, re-use and recycling are all aspects of the decision of how and where to shop,” she said. “It has to be better for many reasons to go to your local high street and pick up goods that have been transported en masse to shops, than to have individual parcels thundering up and down the country in huge trucks from online companies.”

Retailers continue to face stiff online competition and unequal business rates, but shop owners have spoken of receiving wonderful comments from customers. One children’s bookshop owner said: “The conversations about books are joyous and experiencing the excitement from children in our space will never get old.”

Booksellers say books bought by customers in store have been more varied than those purchased online, where the chains’ lockdown charts were topped by Sally Rooney’s Normal People, thanks in part to a timely 12-part BBC dramatisation.

Thrillers, rom-coms and crime novels proved popular, with less appetite for dystopian fiction. Some wanted to be absorbed, others favoured escapist reading, but booksellers expressed delight at the appetite for personal recommendations, boosting sales of books which might not pop up on algorithms, including those from local authors.

Although Covid-19 dealt a heavy blow to publishers, it has also witnessed a frenzy of innovation, with the industry sharing Zoom invites to “visual author events”, podcasts and virtual festivals and some pundits predicting the end of lockdown unleashing a new wave of “interesting and exciting” writing – some perhaps based on people establishing a new relationship with the natural world during their three months of lockdown, not to mention their revised expectations of what kind of “new normal” will emerge on transport and in the workplace.

‘The adventure starts here!’

BEYONDER supporters are being asked to help spread the word about the magazine as part of an August What’s On promotion.

The outdoors magazine was due to launch its What’s On pages properly in April – but the March lockdown stopped people from going out for more than a short exercise walk each day, and meant most attractions having to shut their doors to the public.

Now that museums, zoos and country parks across the Chilterns are beginning to open their doors again, The Beyonder is starting to boost its coverage of local attractions.

Editor Andrew Knight said: “We’ve done what we can to highlight virtual open days, online classes and other things that people could do from their own homes, but it’s exciting to see some of the region’s main attractions opening their doors again.”

But the magazine doesn’t want to encourage visitors at any cost – and has been happy to see the slow, incremental growth of its small Facebook group and Twitter following.

“We’ve seen such an increase in littering, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour since the end of lockdown that the last thing we want is for the Chilterns to be swamped with selfish visitors who don’t care about our local landscape,” said Andrew.

“It’s been important to us that those joining the Facebook group or following us on Twitter share our love of the countryside and desire to look after it.

“We want a lively following of families who appreciate the natural world and want to do what they can to protect it.

“Tourism is important to our economy, but it has to be responsible. We want visitors to our parks and special places who are anxious to protect the environment for future generations too.”

The Autumn motto is “The adventure starts here” – which reflects the fact that the What’s On pages already provide a one-stop guide to dozens of local attractions, many of them free.

From nature reserves to country parks, steam railways to palaces and zoos, the site allows visitors to click through to the home websites of key attractions, including woods, parks and gardens open for charity under the National Gardens Scheme.

The site also includes more than 100 features covering different aspects of local life, from the area’s history and heritage to the wildlife of the Chilterns.

Reviews focus on TV programmes and books which focus on nature, along with local artists and photographers capturing the beauty of the local landscape.   

There’s even a page with links to attractions slightly further afield, like Chartwell, Legoland and Hever Castle.

Says Andrew: “The original idea of the website was to offer a perfect starting point full of ideas for families looking to get out and about in the area.

“The focus is on enjoying the great outdoors and we’ve tried to focus on free options wherever possible, given how expensive it can be for a family of four to visit a major attraction.”

Now the magazine is calling on its friends to help spread the word about the site, to encourage more contributions from fellow outdoors enthusiasts and to appeal to advertisers.

Says Andrew: “Getting the site to this point has been a labour of love over the past two or three years and we’ve met some wonderful people along the way and discovered a great deal about the area.

“Now we want to spread the word to find more like-minded Beyonders – and of course that includes business like pubs, farm shops, vineyards and bookshops that share our interests and values.”

New members can join the magazine’s Facebook group or Twitter feed, while advertisers and potential contributors can contact Andrew direct by email at editor@thebeyonder.co.uk.

HS2 challenge goes to appeal

TV presenter and environmental campaigner Chris Packham has taken his fight against the HS2 high-speed rail scheme to the Court of Appeal after losing his High Court bid to stop the clearing of ancient woodlands. 

“Enough is enough. It’s time we pulled this absurd vanity project. It’s time to Stop HS2,” Packham told his 400,000-strong army of Twitter followers.

His lawyers maintain that the Government gave the green light to the scheme based on a ‘complete misapprehension’ of the environmental impact.

The presenter took his case to the High Court in April seeking an emergency injunction to stop works he claimed would cause destruction or irreparable loss to ancient woodland sites.

His application was unsuccessful, but now his lawyers hope to convince Court of Appeal judges that there were failings in the way the Government reached its decision to give the HS2 project the go-ahead.

The presenter used his Twitter feed to explain 11 key reasons behind the legal challenge, claiming the scheme was “obsolete before it’s even started”.

The Government is opposing the challenge but Packham’s supporters are concerned that the building work will damage hundreds of wildlife sites and destroy dozens of ancient woodlands.

The presenter argues that the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary failed to have regard to the implications of the Paris Agreement when they took the decision and that the business case for HS2 had not taken the impact of coronavirus into account.

He said: “I am delighted that the Lord Justices see merit in hearing the appeal and that they have acknowledged the ‘considerable public interest’ in the case – a public interest which spans the heinous and irreparable damage done to ancient woodland, breeding birds, badgers and bats this Spring, the complete incompatibility of this project to the government’s obligations to address climate change, the appalling conduct of HS2 Ltd and its employees in a time of global crisis, and the future drain that the project will be on that public’s purse, which due to the pandemic is empty.”

Supporters providing witness evidence include the RSPB and the Woodland Trust. Meanwhile members of the Chiltern Society have been taking pictures across the Chilterns since 2010 and monitoring the impact of construction work on the landscape in an HS2 photo diary.

Meanwhile Greenpeace launched a Twitter campaign ahead of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s keynote speech in parliament about the economy calling on him to invest in a green recovery.

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Campaigners altered road signs on the chancellor’s route to work to get the message across that they believe the government must do more to tackle the climate emergency at the same time as trying to grow the economy.

Walkers get to keep their distance

THERE’S good news for walkers worried about bumping into crowds of other people who had exactly the same idea about trying to get away from it all.

The Chilterns Conservation Board and Chiltern Society have developed a series of 23 walks across the Chilterns which are social-distance friendly, avoiding crowded ‘honey-pot’ locations and narrow paths where possible.

Between two and six miles long, the walks start in market towns or villages with good public transport links or parking facilities and are being launched to coincide with the re-opening of many pubs and cafes.

The Chilterns has some outstanding food and drink producers and these walks highlight the many farm shops nearby that are open for business and selling Chilterns local specialities to enjoy on a picnic, or to take home – everything from local honey and beer to cheeses, charcuterie and grass-fed lamb.

The walks were developed by 18 volunteers, all experienced walk leaders who are passionate about the Chilterns and keen to share some of their favourite walks away from the crowds.

All the routes take in the beautiful rolling landscapes of the Chilterns, picturesque villages and plenty of historic interest too, from old drovers’ routes to iron age hillforts.

Discover places with wonderful names like Nanfan Wood, Lilley Hoe and Cobblershill. And some walks start on commons or at recreation grounds with lots of open space, making them ideal for families or friends to combine with a picnic and for kids to run around safely.

Annette Venters of the Chilterns Conservation Board said: “During Lockdown the Chilterns countryside has been used and enjoyed as never before, bringing comfort and joy to many. The well-used honey-pot sites can get very crowded, making social distancing difficult and putting pressure on the landscape. Luckily, the Chilterns has over 2,000km of footpaths, so there are plenty of quiet places to enjoy. We hope these walks will encourage people to explore the Chilterns and discover new places.”

Many of the walks are stile-free and most are under four miles long, making them accessible to many. But walkers are warned to take their litter home and avoid lighting fires and barbecues.

Highlights include pub walks from Great Offley and Pegsdon in the northern Chilterns. The Pegdson walk passes through Knocking Hoe and Hoo Bit nature reserves with outstanding views and witchcraft-sounding plant names like fleawort, eyebright and harebells.

Many of the walks take in famous TV and film locations. The Hound of the Baskervilles walk from Binfield Heath takes in the historic Crowsley Park.

Le De Spencer Arms on Downley Common, the Red Lion on Peppard Common and the Cock and Rabbit on Lee Common are just some of the wonderful country pubs along our routes.

The walks can be downloaded free of charge.

The Chiltern Society was established over 50 years ago and is supported by 7,000 members. It manages 12 conservation sites and has 500 volunteers who work to maintain and improve the Chilterns for the benefit of both residents and visitors alike.

Bucks reopens for business

BUSINESSES across the Chilterns are preparing to welcome visitors back to high streets across the region this week.

Visit Buckinghamshire & The Chilterns, the region’s official tourism website, is excited about the chance to welcome guests back to the area’s market towns, as well as key tourist attractions and outdoor spaces.

But the organisation is keen to encourage local residents to #SupportLocal, #LoveWhereYouLive and #StaySafe, as well as opening their doors to day visitors from neighbouring areas.

Historic gems such as Waddesdon Manor, Hughenden Manor, Stonor Park and Stowe gardens are open for online booking with timed slots. Chiltern Open Air Museum has plenty of open space to enjoy too while exploring (but not entering) their collection of historic buildings.

Zoos and animal parks including Kew Little Pigs, Green Dragon Rare Breeds Eco Farm and Odds Farm Park are preparing to show off the baby animals which have been arriving during lockdown.

All attractions have strict social distancing guidelines in place to keep families and staff as safe as possible.

Buckinghamshire is also blessed with many bustling historic market towns, such as Marlow, Beaconsfield and Amersham where a range of independent shops are now able to welcome customers back, but with restrictions on numbers entering their premises at any one time.

For refreshments, some resourceful cafes and restaurants are providing takeaways until they get the all-clear to fully re-open.

Lucy Dowson of Visit Buckinghamshire & The Chilterns said: “Locals already know that Buckinghamshire is the perfect year-round destination for memorable day visits, stretching from the banks of the River Thames through the glorious rolling Chiltern Hills, and on into the verdant Vale of Aylesbury.

“Its close proximity to London, coupled with excellent road links, means that you can easily access exciting new destinations, discover fabulous attractions and enjoy the beautiful scenery.”

Country parks and nature reserves like Black Park, Langley, Stoke Common and Burnham Beeches offer miles of woodland trails to explore for the price of a car park ticket, while footpaths across the region offer a range of spectacular scenery, from a Thames Path ramble to a windy walk on Dunstable Downs or Ivinghoe Beacon.

During the coronavirus crisis, many local firms have survived by adapting to offer click-and-collect services or local deliveries, while some attractions have provided virtual tours during the lockdown weeks, from Waddesdon Manor to Beckonscot model village and the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, whose steam and diesel train usually does a seven-mile round trip from Princes Risborough to Chinnor.

Now, those firms and attractions are looking forward to welcoming visitors back properly for the first time, if suitable social distancing arrangements can be put in place.

The Beyonder’s What’s On pages provide links to more than 50 attractions across the region for easy access to full details of opening arrangements as these develop.

Fifty fantastic family adventures

FROM stately homes to steam railways and spooky caves, from wildlife sanctuaries to woodland walks, The Beyonder’s What’s On pages have been updated to include more than 50 of the Chilterns’ top attractions.

The at-a-glance array of picture buttons offers ideas for days out that range from free museums and rural rambles to palaces and zoos across four counties.

The buttons link directly to the websites and Facebook pages run by various organisations from the National Trust to town museums.

Attractions for animal lovers range from the Living Rainforest or Beale Park in Berkshire to Whipsnade Zoo and Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire.

If rescued hedgehogs are of more interest than lions and tigers, there’s always the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hsopital in Haddenham, and youngsters wanting to get up close and personal with lambs and baby goats can visit Odds Farm or even foxes and ferrets at the Green Dragon Eco Farm.

History lovers aren’t forgotten, either – from stately homes like those at Stonor Park, Waddesdon or Hughenden, not to mention the majestic delights of Blenheim Palace or Hampton Court.

Museums include those in Amersham, Stevenage, St Albans, Tring and High Wycombe, while those preferring a steam trip can venture out to Chinnor or the Bucks Railway Centre at Quainton Road.

If youngsters need to escape from their smartphones and get the wind in their hair, they can always connect with nature at one of the country parks scattered across the region – or blow away the cobwebs with a walk in Wendover Woods, Penn or Burnham Beeches.

For something that little bit different, there’s always the model village at Bekonscot in Beaconsfield, the gloriumptious Roald Dahl museum at Great Missenden, the mysterious Hellfire Caves at West Wycombe or the exotic attractions of Kew Gardens.

Or what about stepping back in time at the Chiltern Open Air Museum, finding out more about science at the Look Out Discovery Centre or discovering more about the lives of writers like John Milton or CS Lewis by visiting their homes in Chalfont St Giles and Headington, Oxford.

Many of the websites featured offer a regular programme of special one-off events, displays and attractions too, so there’s always more to discover – with further buttons linking to the National Trust, English Heritage, Wildlife Trusts, Chiltern Society and National Garden Scheme for more ideas about places to visit and things to do.

With a host of additional events listed in the monthly What’s On pages too, there’s something for everyone who loves the great outdoors. For more information, click on What’s On whenever you need a little inspiration about how to make the most of your free time.

The website has also launched a “Where to go” section on its Further afield pages, which in the past have featured attractions which might involve Chilterns readers driving just a little further afield, to London, Surrey and Sussex.

The first half-dozen attractions listed include Winston Churchill’s family home at Chartwell, nearby Hever Castle in Kent which was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and the steam railway centre at Didcot, much loved by railway enthusiasts.

Feeling left out? If we have inadvertently missed an attraction out of our listings, get in touch.

Kids just love to go wild

WHEREVER you live in the Chilterns, kids love to get outside and let off steam whatever the weather.

That’s why we will be including more free events in our What’s On pages, starting with a monthly reminder about the plethora of woodland walks on the doorstep.

LETTING OFF STEAM: take the family on a woodland walk PICTURE: National Trust / Chris Lacey

Or between now and July, why not make a really early start, pack a picnic and go out to discover the beauty of the dawn chorus?

In the winter months it’s only too easy to stay glued to the TV, computer or smartphone on dull days where the threat of rain is heavy in the air.

But it’s surprising how quickly the clouds lift when you get outdoors and get the wind in your hair. Youngsters love to get their wellies and bobble hats on for a good old stamp around in the puddles.

BUG HUNT: hunting for insects PICTURE: National Trust / Chris Lacey

There’s always plenty to see and do, but in case you are short of inspiration, the local BBOWT wildlife trusts have produced a great downloadable Go Wild Guide for the kids to add an element of adventure to the outing.

The free guide includes a scavenger hunt, puzzles, advice on how to make your own bird feeder or insect hotel and an I-Spy Challenge with two dozen birds and insects to look out for in a local park or on the way to school.

National Trust members are spoilt for choice with a wide array of historic estates on the doorstep, including Cliveden, Hughenden and Waddesdon.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE: a spring walk at Cliveden PICTURE: National Trust / Chris Lacey

But the country parks are all worth a visit too, from the tree-lined pathways of Black Park to the sprawling deer park at Langley – and free to enter apart from the cost of parking.

Why not plan a walk in the Colne Valley Regional Park or a longer trail to explore the River Colne and the Grand Union Canal towpath, stopping off for a coffee or bite to eat, enjoying a mix of wildlife, industrial buildings and narrowboats, depending on your route.

Across the Chilterns from Dunstable Downs and Ivinghoe Beacon to Wendover Woods, Winter Hill and the Thames, there’s no shortage of places for that perfect ramble, come wind, rain or shine.

And a number of organisations offer special events and trails to coincide with half-term and other school holidays, including local councils, the National Trust, widllife trusts and museums – check out our What’s On pages month by month for the latest organised events for young people.

Four go wild in the Highlands

BBC’s Winterwatch team return to the Cairngorms next week for another four nights of chilly wildlife watching.

Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Gillian Burke and Iolo Williams host the eighth series of the live show from the Scottish Highlands, starting on Tuesday January 28 at 8pm.

Winterwatch 2020 comes from the programme’s new, year-round home in the Cairngorms National Park, which covers more than 1700 square miles and was established in 2003 by the Scottish parliament.

Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan join forces again to renew a partnership forged more than 25 years ago on the Really Wild Show.

The children’s wildlife programme ran for 20 years from 1986, although the pair were only co-presenters for a couple of years in the 1990s before Chris moved on to other work.

They were reunited on Winterwatch and its sister programmes in 2009 and joined by Gillian Burke in 2017.

Gillian has long been involved with nature TV programming after studying biology at Bristol University. Welsh nature observer and TV presenter Iolo Williams became a regular member of the team in 2019.

Winterwatch runs from Tuesday to Friday next week.

Classy refuge on the Chess

VISITORS TO the stunning Chess Valley are getting the chance to stay in brand new self-catering accommodation this year, with the opening of a new holiday cottage at Watercress Farm in Sarratt.

The farm is home to the Tyler family, who have worked the land alongside the River Chess for more than a century. In fact this is now the only working farm of its type in the whole of the Chilterns, one of 19 which once existed between Sarratt and Chesham.

Jon Tyler’s great grandfather set up the business in 1896 and Jon recalls how in previous generations the men would travel by steam train from Chorleywood to London to sell bunches at Covent Garden Market.

Now Jon and his wife Sarah have launched a new business venture, offering high-end self-catering holiday accommodation at the farm in a converted barn originally used for watercress seed drying.

Sarah announced this week on the Chiltern Tourism Network’s facebook page that they are now taking bookings via their new website.

Costs range from £250 for a two-night weekend break to £700 for a week’s stay from Friday to Friday, complete with welcome pack and fuel for the wood-fired hot tub.

The cottage provides a perfect base to relax, walk, cycle, birdwatch and fly fish brown trout in the River Chess or carp in the farm’s private lake. It’s only half an hour from Harry Potter world and easily accessible from London for those wanting an escape from the city.

From here there are stunning walks along the Chess Valley to neighbouring villages. Sarratt itself boasts a range of good pubs, a small village shop for groceries and a stunning 12th Century church, the Holy Cross, one of the locations used in the Hugh Grant film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Watercress is one of the oldest green vegetables known to man and the peppery green leaves have been recognised as highly nutritious since Victorian times when they were eaten to help kept scurvy at bay. The River Chess, with its clean mineral-rich spring water, is still ideal for growing the cress, in gravel beds bathed in the flow of pure spring water .

Visitors to Crestyl Cottage can do their own basking in fresh spring water too, with a soothing soak in the wood-burning hot tub after a wintry walk up the valley.

Jon took over the farm when his father Terry died in 2014 and runs it with the help of his sister Suzanne Burr and his nephew Henry Cooper. But though you won’t find watercress any fresher than buying it at the farm gate, the business has its own red tape challenges at the moment, says Sarah.

“The holiday let is a diversification to support the business at the moment,” she says.

Final weekend on the history trail

DOZENS of venues across the Chilterns have been throwing open their doors this month as part of the country’s largest free celebration of history and culture – and there’s a last chance this weekend to join in the fun.

The annual nationwide event boasts a dynamic programme of more than 5,000 events where public, private and community spaces host tours, talks and open days.

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From open churches to family fun days, doors are flung open at some of the country’s best-known tourist venues, as well as monuments and buildings which do not normally allow visits.

Attractions range from churches, country houses, museums and gardens to theatres, wildlife reserves, distilleries and even recycling centres.

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To celebrate the festival’s 25th anniversary, 25 new venues are opening their doors. “It’s always exciting when new places join Heritage Open Days,” said national manager Annabelle Thorpe. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by sharing it with these iconic places.”

Behind-the-scenes visits include theatres, bell towers and sports stadia, with a full searchable list of all 5,000 atractions available at the main Heritage Open Days website.

Other popular options include National Trust properties opening their doors free for the day and local churches, museums and other venues staffed by thousands of volunteers eager to share their knowledge of local heritage.

This year’s event runs until September 22 and local highlights across the Chilterns are listed on our What’s On pages.

Established in 1994, Heritage Open Days is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days – launched in 1991 – and has grown into the country’s largest heritage festival.

Exotic sights in St Albans

VISITORS get a last chance to savour some spectacular floral displays and exotic butterflies this weekend as Aylett Nurseries’ “autumn festival” draws to a close.

The Hertfordshire family nursery has long been associated with cultivating dahlias, and has won awards for decades for its stunning displays of the bushy perennials which first arrived in Britain from their native Mexico more than 200 years ago.

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A marquee in the main nursery contains a magnificent splash of colour with its array of home-grown dahlias on the travel theme of “The Way To Go”, while the Celebration Garden and dahlia field where the plants are grown are also open for charity as part of the National Garden Scheme.

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Dahlias were a great passion of the late Roger Aylett, who started the business on the same 7½ acres of land at the age of 21 and was soon dispatching the stunning plants to all corners of the country.

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Inside the marquee this year are more than 55 dahlia varieties freshly cut from the dahlia field, where visitors can use ribbons to pick out their favourites.

The “flagship” of the nursery for over 60 years, since 1961 Aylett displays have picked up 55 gold medals at Royal Horticultural Society annual shows – and it’s not hard to see why.

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Declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963 and grown as a food crop by the Aztecs, there are 42 species of dahlia, with hybrids commonly grown as garden plants.

The official RHS classification lists 14 different groups and there are more than 57,000 cultivars providing an extraordinarily diverse array of colours and shapes.

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For younger visitors less overwhelmed by the displays in the dahlia marquee, there is a last chance to visit “Butterfly Corner”, an enclosed area housing an array of tropical plants and exotic butterflies.

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These include the postman, flambeau and stunning blue morpho, one of the largest in the world. Guests can learn about the fascinating life cycle of the butterfly and watch butterflies feed and fly.

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There is a puparium where new butterflies emerge and younger gardeners can enjoy spotting the different species, caterpillars and butterfly eggs. The butterflies, eggs, caterpillars and plants will be relocated to the Butterfly House at Whipsnade Zoo when the exhibition closes this weekend.

Visitors to the nursery this weekend also get the chance to vote in the Around the World Crate Competition where individuals, schools, clubs and associations were invited to compete for £100 of gift vouchers.

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The competition focuses on the theme of transport and travel and entrants were encouraged to create a miniature world inside a wooden crate which could be displayed during the festival.

Winners will be decided by public vote, with the winner announced on Monday.

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Communities answer call to arms

LITTER-PICKERS across the Chilterns have been rallying local communities to help clean up local neighbourhoods this month.

Within minutes of the launch last week of The Beyonder’s “ripple effect” campaign, local groups had been in touch about their activities.

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In Chalfont St Peter, Jodie Burridge organised a clean-up day in the village, with another planned for October 5.

In Wycombe Marsh, Jean Peasley was in touch about the Wycombe Marsh Environment Group, which organises a monthly litter pick around the area (below), as well as gardening and planting on small uncared-for patches of land.

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In Beaconsfield, the Considerate Beaconsfield group organised a litter pick in August and have another planned for the New Year, while Wooburn Green residents also have a litter-pick planned for September.

Nationally, dozens of such like-minded groups have been keeping in touch via the UK Litterpicking Groups page on Facebook, which has more than 2,000 members.

There are also dozens of similar local initiatives, including the two-minute beach clean movement, the zero plastic lobby and national climate change protests.

The Beyonder’s “ripple effect” campaign was designed to unite the hundreds of like-minded local organisations already doing their bit to keep their neighbourhood clean and spread the word about what more can be done locally to tackle the problem.

The campaign coincided with another international call from action from the Pope on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.

Pope Francis has made many calls for environmental protection and has clashed over climate change with sceptical world leaders such as US President Donald Trump, who has taken the United States out of the Paris accord.

At a local level, his call may resonate with church communities across the Chilterns, many of whom can also organise small-scale local events from litter-picking to education in schools.

This week sees hard-hitting TV anti-litter advocate Jeremy Paxman addressing a two-day conference in Birmingham attended by thousands of recycling and waste business and local authority professionals.

Paxman is patron of the Clean Up Britain campaign, a national campaign specialising in changing anti-social environmental behaviour like littering and fly-tipping, and will be delivering a keynote speech on what he sees as the “national embarassment” of how filthy and run-down Britain looks.

He will tell his audience: “There’s only one sustainable solution, and that’s changing the behaviour of people who do litter. Government-supported initiatives have failed – we need a new joined-up, courageous and innovative approach to win the War on Waste.”

Another national campaigner has also called more a more proactive approach. On Twitter, Quentin Brodie Cooper of Zilch UK has spent the past five years building up a network of more than 12,000 followers working together to eliminate littering.

But he expressed disappointment that the Beyonder campaign focused “entirely on picking up litter rather than trying to do more to prevent it”.

His website lists a number of actions which he believes can make a positive and incremental contribution to the war against littering, including encouraging people to act as human camera-traps in car parks and other places where they can witness and report littering from vehicles.

But Beyonder editor Andrew Knight responded: “We do welcome all contributions to the debate and actively work to promote the work of those campaigners who are co-ordinating the fight.

“But we believe that communities working together can make a real difference in changing attitudes towards this problem. It’s not always safe for members of the public to confront litterers or try to prevent anti-social behaviour themselves, for example.

“However working together communities can help spread the word that littering is unacceptable, and Jeremy Paxman is right about the scale of the problem nationwide.

“It’s not just picking up a few bits of litter that makes the difference, but about thousands of local people spreading the word about how much they genuinely care about the local environment and about leading by example.

“Every week on the UK Litterpicking Groups web pages there are heartwarming stories of small triumphs that show many people do care and want to do their bit to help.”

Locally the National Trust rangers’ team based at Cliveden are still looking for more local litterpickers to help keep paths and car parks clean across 843 acres of land at Maidenhead and Cookham commons.

Campaign issues a call to arms

THE Beyonder has launched a “ripple effect” campaign calling on communities across the Chilterns to join forces in a local war on litter and fly-tipping.

The move follows months of research into existing initiatives, speaking to campaign groups, rangers, councils and enforcement teams.

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“It’s clear to anyone driving around our area that there is a major problem with littering,” says Beyonder editor Andrew Knight. “It’s becoming an epidemic on our back roads and roundabouts and it has become a national scandal. It’s the same problem we see on bank holiday beaches and people leaving their tents and camping equipment at festivals.

“A significant minority of selfish individuals are acting with complete disregard for our countryside. It’s costing a fortune to clean up, it’s killing our wildlife and it’s leaving us knee-deep in plastic which eventually ends up in our oceans.

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“Thankfully the tide is really turning in terms of people’s awareness, but there’s still a long way to go.”

He points to the impact of programmes like David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series and praised teenage campaigners like Greta Thunberg for pushing environmental concerns higher up the political agenda.

“It’s easy for people to get angry or disheartened about the sheer scale of the problem, but during the past year we’ve been impressed with the positive news stories from all over the country,” he says.

“From joggers to dog walkers, community groups all over the UK are getting together to clean up public spaces near their homes. It might start with their own garden and spread to their street, estate or village.

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“And that shared sense of achievement is very infectious – there are dozens of such groups on Facebook and sharing their experiences helps them cope with the negative things. It keeps people fit, it gets young and old and families out doing something good for the community and the cleaner an area is, the less likely people are to drop litter – the effect really does spread….”

The “ripple” campaign is based on the same principle, he explains, because dotted across the Chilterns are dozens of places where the tough clear-up work is already being done – in country parks and National Trust properties, by scores of parish and town councils, by ordinary farmers and landowners.

“Where property is owned by the Woodland Trust or local wildlife trusts, rangers and volunteers are already on the case, with local families, ramblers and dog walkers all doing their bit to help,” he says.

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“The big problem is that the minute you go outside Black Park or Cliveden or a remote footpath and reach a main road, you are confronted with all sorts of rubbish just being chucked out of passing cars,” he says.

“We can’t change people’s habits overnight, but we think the “ripple effect” campaign can make a real difference once the word gets out. We have to get the message out there that this type of behaviour is unacceptable, anti-social and criminal.

“But if most people in the community are behind it and want to keep their town, village or street clean, it will make life a whole lot harder for those few selfish souls who don’t understand or don’t care what they are doing to the planet.”

Enforcement is part of the package too, as the magazine explored in an interview last year with enforcement officers like David Rounding (below) and his colleagues at Buckinghamshire County Council.

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The online magazine encourages people to get involved in the campaign in any way they can, whether than means picking up a few items of litter when walking the dog, organising a community clean-up or taking steps to reduce the amount of plastic they buy and use at home.

“We hope people will want to get involved and tell us what they are up to,” says Andrew. “We know this will take time and determination and that nothing will change overnight, but our countryside is under siege and igoring the problem is simply not an option.”

For full details of the campaign, and how to get involved, follow the link.

Residents fight Green Belt attack

RESIDENTS across two counties are stepping up their protests over plans to build new motorway service areas and thousands of new homes on Green Belt land.

The upsurge in activity in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire coincides with deadlines passing for local people to voice their concerns with local councils about their draft plans which will shape housing development in the area over the next 20 years.

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Various protest groups are now raising funds for legal representation to proceed with their campaigns. The Beaconsfield Society Save our Green Belt Campaign has been vociferous it its efforts to fight the “biggest threat for a generation” to the local Green Belt, with plans for 1600 new homes, offices and travellers’ sites around the town, which the society claims would lead to a massive increase in congestion and pollution.

The society has slammed both Beaconsfield Town and South Bucks councils for a lack of communication over the blueprint for thousands of homes in the area and argue that the growing housing crisis is not an acceptable reason to build on the protected land.

In the plans, a total of 5,200 homes are proposed across the area from Iver to Chesham, and other groups have raised similar concerns.

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In Little Chalfont, which has been zoned for 700 homes, the parish council and community association joined forces to respond to the proposals, while campaigners in Bourne End have also fought to protect Green Belt land.

Meanwhile Thames Valley Police has joined local residents in raising concerns about a £150m motorway service area proposed near Chalfont St Peter.

Extra Motorway Services wants to build a hotel, petrol station and a building containing 12 retail and restaurant units on the 147-acre site between junctions 16 and 17 of the M25, close to the M25 exit for Denham/Maple Cross.

Police objected to the plans because of fears about the impact of a new service area on police resources and the safety of staff and customers, pointing out that Beaconsfield Services at Junction 2 of the M40 currently represented “one of the biggest crime hotspots” in the local policing area, with numerous calls relating to crime and anti-social behaviour.

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Residents were also worried about the impact of the development on the local community and about pollution and congestion.

But similar fears have also been raised about another massive motorway service station mooted on green belt land in Hertfordshire will could threaten the very existence of Kings Langley.

Gary Ansell, chairman of Kings Langley & District Residents Association (KLDRA), said in April: “We are extremely concerned the village of Kings Langley will be surrounded by development. And the site is close to a church and primary school which would both be affected by high levels of diesel fumes and noise pollution.”

Moto Hospitality has submitted a planning application for a new service station at junction 20 off the M25 near Kings Langley with an 80-bed lodge, range of shops, parking spaces and other facilities.

See the highlighted links above for more detail about the different protest groups’  campaigns.

Open doors to our heritage

DOZENS of venues across the Chilterns throw open their doors next month as part of the country’s largest free celebration of history and culture.

The annual nationwide event boasts a dynamic programme of more than 5,000 events where public, private and community spaces host tours, talks and open days.

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From open churches to family fun days, doors are flung open at some of the country’s best-known tourist venues, as well as monuments and buildings which do not normally allow visits.

Attractions range from churches, country houses, museums and gardens to theatres, wildlife reserves, distilleries and even recycling centres.

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To celebrate the festival’s 25th anniversary, 25 new venues are opening their doors. “It’s always exciting when new places join Heritage Open Days,” said national manager Annabelle Thorpe. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by sharing it with these iconic places.”

Behind-the-scenes visits include theatres, bell towers and sports stadia, with a full searchable list of all 5,000 atractions available at the main Heritage Open Days website.

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Other popular options include National Trust properties opening their doors free for the day and local churches, museums and other venues staffed by thousands of volunteers eager to share their knowledge of local heritage.

This year’s event runs from September 13-22 and local highlights across the Chilterns are listed on our What’s On pages.

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Established in 1994, Heritage Open Days is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days – launched in 1991 – and has grown into the country’s largest heritage festival.

Crime spotters take to the saddle

THAMES Valley Police is recruiting a new team of volunteer rural crime spotters in Chiltern and South Bucks.

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The volunteers are horse riders who will help with rural crime prevention while out on their normal hacking routes.

The role is voluntary and has no police powers attached but builds on the work of the force’s Horse Watch network which links horse owners, riders and equestrian workers with their local police teams.

To become a rural spotter, riders must past an application process and undertake a short training course. They must be 18+ with their own horse, personal liability insurance, own transport and no criminal record.

Volunteers will report any suspicious activity, including fly-tipping, unauthorised off- road biking and hare coursing to the NFU Rural Crime Reporting line on a free phone number, 0800 7830137.

Anyone interested should email Helen Evans, the Thames Valley Police equine liaison volunteer, who had the idea for the scheme. She said: Within the equine community we have an untapped source of people who are able to act as the eyes and ears of the police in rural areas.

Riders have the unique ability to go to fairly inaccessible places and have the advantage of height to see over hedges. My hope is that the scheme will make the countryside a safer place for all.”

Neighbourhood Sergeant Darren Walsh said: “By working together with the riding community, we can make criminals think twice, and deter and detect crime.”

Berks, Bucks and Oxon NFU Chairman Jeff Powell said: “Rural Spotters on horseback will be well placed to report any unusual or suspicious behaviour in the Buckinghamshire countryside and then log this anonymously through the NFU’s Rural Crime Reporting Line, run in partnership with Crimestoppers.”

For more details, see the Chiltern Community Forum.

Museum reopens for 2019

The Chiltern Open Air Museum reopens for the 2019 season this weekend with a living history event focused around World War I.

On Saturday, the museum marks English Tourism Week by officially opening its completed WWI Nissen hut to the public.

Over the weekend. costumed re-enactors will show the Tommies would relax on the home front and what weapons and kit they used when fighting.

Nurse and chaplain re-enactors will demonstrate how they supported the troops on the front line and back home.

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Visitors can take part in a poppy trail and dress up in WWI officer and nurse costumes.

On Saturday, there will also be the opportunity to chat to the museum team about educational visits, group visits, experience days, weddings and events at the Museum.

The event is part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project to rebuild a WWI Nissen hut on the site to commemorate WWI in the Chilterns and to tell the stories of local war heroes.

The museum is open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday and entry this weekend is by donation.

For more detail about the work of the museum see our History In The Making feature or visit the museum’s website.

Pupils call for climate change action

THOUSANDS of pupils took to the streets across the UK yesterday in a national protest calling for action on climate change.

Defying criticism from head teachers and the prime minister, schoolchildren in more than 60 towns and cities took part in marches calling on the government to declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem.

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Organisers Youth Strike 4 Climate said protests took place in more than 60 towns and cities, with an estimated 15,000 taking part.

Meetings took place outside town halls from Truro to Inverness and from Norwich to Ullapool, with the largest crowds converging on parliament in Westminster, at one point blocking Westminster Bridge.

The action was part of a wider global movement, Schools 4 Climate Action, which began when 15-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg skipped classes to sit outside government buildings, accusing her country of not following the Paris Climate Agreement.

The climate activist, who has Asperger’s. quickly became a global phenomenon, being invited to speak at the UN and the World Economic Forum at Davos, where she told world leaders: “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day – and then I want you to act.”

With more than 182,000 followers on Twitter Greta, now 16, has inspired thousands of other young people across the world to carry out similar protests, many of them with placards bearing slogans such as “There is no planet B”.

Students participating in yesterday’s day of protest in the UK demanded that the Government communicate the severity of the ecological crisis to the public and reform the curriculum to make it an educational priority.

Anna Taylor, 17, of UK Student Climate Network, said: “We’re running out of time for meaningful change, and that’s why we’re seeing young people around the world rising up to hold their governments to account on their dismal climate records.

“Unless we take positive action, the future’s looking bleak for those of us that have grown up in an era defined by climate change.”

In a TV interview she said: “I feel very disappointed that 15,000 students had to walk out of school today. We feel deeply betrayed by past generations and past governments.”

The campaign has also received celebrity backing.

On Twitter, TV presenter Chris Packham wrote: “Across the planet we have elected a confederacy of idiots obsessed with short term greed.

“Well today a bunch of children and young people are going to show them up. Bloody marvellous isn’t it!”

Theresa May was attacked by Labour politicians after saying that those taking part in the strike were “wasting lesson time”. And activist Greta Thurnberg responded on Twitter: “That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 years of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”

Other young activists promoting the strike included 17-year-old wildlife ambassador Bella Lack and 14-year-old Dara McAnulty from Northern Ireland, an autistic naturalist and conservationist who demanded that governments declared our time “an ecological emergency”.

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The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said that while it supported the rights of young people to express themselves, it did not condone students being out of the classroom to take action.

But writing in the Huffington Post, Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion and former leader and co-leader of The Green Party, said: “Our children recognise that they are living through a climate emergency. They are striking today because they know we cannot carry on as normal.

“There have been some who have questioned today’s strike – asking if climate change is enough of an ‘exceptional circumstance’ for children to miss lessons. But if the threat of civilisational collapse and the possibility of the end of life on Earth as we know it is not an exceptional circumstance, then I don’t know what it is.

“We’re already feeling the effects of climate breakdown. Nature and wildlife populations are at tipping points. Wildfires and droughts are becoming increasingly common.

“And in October last year, the United Nations warned that we have only 12 years left to transform our global economy and prevent catastrophe.”

She said young people were issuing a wake-up call and showing “courage and leadership where the adults in charge show none”.

Her message was echoed after the protest by Chris Packham, who Tweeted: “Day 1 – superb . And authority responded predictably – from headmasters to government . Never trust – always question them, be peaceful but forceful, rational and informed . The future is yours not theirs. Seize it.”

And energy minister Claire Perry said she was “incredibly proud” of young people’s passion and concern.

She told the BBC: “I suspect if this was happening 40 years ago, I would be out there too.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said schoolchildren were “right to feel let down by the generation before them” and said it was “inspiring” to see them making their voice heard.

Model village reopens for business

THE miniature world of Bekonscot reopens to the public next month, with some craft activities to keep youngsters busy during half-term week.

The 2019 season is a special one for Beaconsfield’s timeless tourist attraction because this August marks 90 years since Roland Callingham welcomed the first visitors to the model village and railway he built in his garden.

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There will be special celebrations in the summer to mark the event, but in the meantime the doors reopen at 10am on Saturday February 16  ready for the half-term holiday.

Special attractions include a chance for youngsters to make their own fridge magnets to take home on Monday, and a 45-minute workshop on Thursday where children can help to recreate one of Bekonscot’s animated models.

The model village actually comprises six little towns stuck in a 1930s timewarp with more than 200 buildings, 3,000 animals and features ranging from coal mines to great castles, aerodromes to farms, docks to cable cars, racecourses to escaped convicts!

Latest attractions include new models based on local businesses as they would have looked in the 1930s and a range of interactive activities for younger visitors in the EdShed, as the education centre has been re-branded.

Keep an eye on our What’s On pages for details of forthcoming attractions – and find out more about the tiny world of Bekonscot here.

Get tough on the waste cowboys

TOUGHER penalties and stronger investigatory powers should be adopted by the government to clamp down on rogue waste operators, an independent review has warned.

The cost of waste crime to the English economy rocketed to £600m in 2015 and the review, ordered by environment secretary Michael Gove, concluded that compulsory electronic tracking of waste could help clamp down on illegal movements of waste at home and abroad.

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Welcoming the findings, Mr Gove said: “The threat to society from waste crime is real. Criminals are running illegal waste sites as a cover for theft, human trafficking, drug running and money laundering. It is costing our economy millions of pounds each year, and blighting our communities. I welcome today’s review. We are committed to clamping down on these unscrupulous groups and we will set out our next steps in our forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.”

Other recommendations include:

  • A Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) led by the Environment Agency with the police, crime commissioners, HMRC and waste industry representatives working together to tackle the most serious cases;
  • a national database of registered waste brokers to make it harder for unscrupulous operators to do businesses.

Lizzie Noel who chaired the review said: “Our intention must be to give the criminals responsible real cause to fear the consequences of their actions.”

Between 2011 and 2017, the Environment Agency stopped the operation of more than 5,400 illegal waste sites.

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “Serious waste crime is the new narcotics – it damages the environment and harms local communities.

“In the last year, the Environment Agency has closed down over 800 illegal waste sites and brought almost 100 successful waste crime prosecutions. But there is still more to be done. This report represents an opportunity to ensure we have the right powers, resources and coordination to win this fight.”

The review builds on recent government measures to tackle waste crime, including new powers for the Environment Agency to lock the gates to problem waste sites to prevent waste illegally building up and powers to force operators to clear all the waste at problem sites.

Examples of recent prosecutions for waste crimes include arrests made earlier this year in London for fraud and money laundering offences across the country, and enforcement action taken in April 2017 after the illegal dumping of 20,000 tonnes of waste at 17 sites across the Midlands, North West and North East.

For more information see the full review.

Thousands rally for wildlife

THOUSANDS of people braved the September drizzle to join Chris Packham on a march to Whitehall calling on the government to take radical action to help reverse the decline of British wildlife.

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Protesters from around the country included families, friends and groups from organisations ranging from Friends of the Earth to local Wildlife Trusts and the Woodland Trust.

As crowds gathered in Hyde Park, TV presenters like Lucy Cooke and Iolo Williams joined Packham and musician Billy Bragg to talk about the need for concerted action to reverse the decline of UK species – and avert their potential extinction.

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Industrialisation, urbanisation and over-exploitation were blamed for some of the most dramatic statistics, with changes in farming practices contributing to the loss of flower-rich meadows and millions of farmland birds.

With some walkers dressed as bees, birds, foxes, badgers and hedgehogs, protesters set out to deliver the “People’s manifesto” to Downing Street calling for an end to the “war on wildlife”.

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Describing the statistics as “horrifying, depressing and disastrous” the manifesto made a series of recommendations, including twinning primary schools with farms to help children understand how food is produced, banning driven grouse shooting, making it illegal to dredge for scallops and stopping Scottish seal culling.

“It’s time to wake up,” said Packham. “We are presiding over an ecological apocalypse and precipitating a mass extinction in our own backyard. But – vitally – it is not too late. There is hope we can hold to, and there is action we can take.”

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The People’s Walk departed for Westminster to the tune of digital birdsong reverberating through the streets of London from hundreds of smartphones.

The manifesto booklet includes a series of essays from 18 “ministers” highlighting some of the most critical concerns affecting the British landscape matched with specific proposals of ways which if implemented, would directly benefit the nation’s wildlife.

Contributors include authors, journalists, environmentalists and campaigners like Dr Mark Avery, Patrick Barkham, Kate Bradbury, Dr Robert Macfarlane and George Monbiot.

Campaign targets dumping menace

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE is stepping up its war against fly-tipping with a new campaign targeting selfish dumpers prepared to ruin the countryside in an effort to make a fast buck.

The Bucks Waste Partnership’s SCRAP campaign aims to warn householders that THEY could be punished if their rubbish turns up on a back road in Buckinghamshire.

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The message is that if it’s your rubbish, it’s your responsibility to dispose of it properly and legally. Otherwise dumpers could face a £400 fixed penalty notice or, if court action is taken, typically fines of several thousands of pounds or even a prison sentence.

The campaign also features advice for householders and businesses to thoroughly check anyone who they use to dispose of waste on their behalf. Failure to do so means people are not complying with duty of care requirements and could face a nasty surprise if their waste is found fly-tipped.

The campaign follows an upsurge of fly-tipping around the county, with more than two dozen serious incidents reported in the past few weeks around the Chalfonts, Denham and Iver, in some cases with back roads being completely blocked.

Last month The Beyonder highlighted the techniques being used to tackle the menace in a feature about the county council team which investigates and prosecutes such cases.

The SCRAP campaign stands for Suspect, Check, Refuse, Ask and Paperwork – a five-point checklist to help people stay on the right side of the law.

Bill Chapple OBE, Bucks Waste Partnership Chairman and County Council cabinet member for planning and environment said any form of fly-tipping was illegal and socially unacceptable.

“Local people tell me they hate fly tipping with a passion. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single bag or a truck load, fly-tipping is disgusting and on average costs our council taxpayers over £750,000 every year in clear up and enforcement costs.

“Fly-tipped material also presents dangers for wildlife, it can pollute local areas and it’s extremely expensive to clear up. People often don’t realise but you could also end up with a criminal record.

“We take a zero-tolerance approach and that tough stance means fly-tippers are around 16 times more likely to be caught and prosecuted in Buckinghamshire compared to the national average. Quite often it’s surveillance camera evidence or an eagle-eyed resident noting down a vehicle number plate that helps bring perpetrators to justice.

“However, going forward we want to do even better and I am determined not to allow the mindless actions of the few, to spoil it for the people that love Buckinghamshire and its beautiful countryside.”

The campaign also reminds people that they can also play their part by reporting suspicious activity or fly tipping in progress. All they need to do is go online to www.fixmystreet.buckscc.gov.uk and select fly-tipping from the  drop-down menu.

Bucks Waste Partnership member and cabinet member for environment at South Bucks District Council, Luisa Sullivan said: “Some of the excuses people give are unbelievable, from promising to come back in the morning to collect a fly-tipped bag to needing to tidy out a works van. Listen to your common sense, think before you act and don’t be tempted to fly tip in the first place.

“Even if you can’t dispose of waste yourself, there are many alternatives that won’t land you in trouble. For example, each Buckinghamshire district council offers a bulky waste collection service for larger items or kerbside waste and recycling centres for things like glass, paper and plastic bottles.”

She added: “Alternatively you could consider donating or even selling your unwanted items. You might make a few pounds for yourself rather than having to pay out thousands in fines.”

For further details about all aspects of the campaign, visit: www.recycle4bucks.co.uk/flytip

High cost of waste crime

NEVER pay a man in cash to take your household rubbish away – it could cost you a fortune (and a criminal record).

That’s the message from Buckinghamshire waste enforcement officer David Rounding after an upsurge in fly-tipping incidents across the county.

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COSTLY CRIME: David Rounding probes a dumping incident near Burnham

He believes many householders still don’t realise the consequences of allowing rogue waste collectors to dispose of their rubbish.

More than a third of those prosecuted in the county over fly-tipped waste are people who claim to have paid someone else to get rid of their unwanted household items. But David warns that cash payments to strangers are a recipe for disaster.

It’s a trend that has been fuelled in the past couple of years by so-called “Facebook fly- tippers” offering cheap waste collection services.

“People don’t seem to realise they could face a substantial fine and end up with a criminal record because they have allowed someone to get rid of their waste without checking them out,” he said.

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WASTE DETECTIVE: enforcement officer David Rounding

The legislation makes it a crime not only to actually dump waste but also to fail to show a “duty of care” in arranging for waste to be disposed of.

So if your property ends up being dumped in a country layby and can be traced back to you, it’s you who could end up in court.

The surge in rubbish dumping across the country cost taxpayers £57m in 2017-18, a rise of 13 per cent on the previous year.

Local authorities in England deal with a million fly-tipping incidents a year – and in Buckinghamshire that translates to six a day on average, costing £500,000 in clean-up costs.

Much of the rubbish comes from households in nearby London boroughs like Hillingdon or local conurbations like Slough and Uxbridge – and since 2015, there has been a growing industry of criminal rubbish collectors advertising their services via social media sites like Facebook.

In May the Local Government Association highlighted the problem was on the increase. A spokesman said: “Small-scale criminals are attempting to undercut legitimate services by offering to take household rubbish away cheaply. But often they are just dumping items on other people’s land or in public. People should avoid using these services as they are driving the problem.”

David Rounding says a further irony is that many of the criminals are not even charging “cheap” rates.

“We have seen householders being charged hundreds of pounds for someone to take their rubbish away – sometimes two or three times the market rate. But in Buckinghamshire the ten recycling centres are free to use for household waste,” he said.

Families moving to new-build homes may be easy targets if they don’t know the area or how easy it is to dispose of their rubbish. They can also be targeted by fly-tippers on the look-out for bulkier items like sofas or beds which can be easily loaded into a Transit-style van or pick-up.

As many as half of local residents are thought to be unaware that they have a duty of care to dispose of their unwanted stuff correctly and can be fined or prosecuted if their rubbish is subsequently fly-tipped.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s environment spokesman, told the Telegraph in May: “Fly-tipping is unsightly and unacceptable environmental vandalism. It’s an absolute disgrace for anyone to think that they can use the environments in which our residents live as a repository for litter.”

David Rounding believes a simple ban on cash payments would go a long way to solving the problem and keeping law-abiding residents out of trouble: “If your rubbish ends up in a layby in Buckinghamshire, we will be asking you how it got there. We suffer from more fly-tipping than many councils and we will prosecute.”

He points out that the council has saved £3m over the past decade through its zero-tolerance approach, because the cost of clearing fly-tipped waste is so high.

“People using someone they have only met through Facebook face a much greater risk,” he warned. “Don’t pay cash – pay online or with a cheque. Ask to see the firm’s waste carrier permit. Legitimate companies won’t mind giving you’re their name or registration number.”

What is fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping is the illegal disposal of household, industrial, commercial or other ‘controlled’ waste without a waste management licence. The waste includes garden refuse and larger domestic items such as fridges and mattresses.

What are the penalties?

Fly-tipping is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment if convicted in a magistrates’ court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years’ imprisonment if convicted in a crown court. There are also a number of other possible penalties, including fixed penalty notices of up to £400 and seizing a vehicle and/or its contents because of suspected involvement in fly-tipping.

To report a fly-tipping incident to David and his colleagues, visit the county council’s web page or the Fix My Street website.

Volunteers make a clean sweep

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KEEPING IT CLEAN: volunteers hit the streets in Hereford [PICTURE: Andrew Wood]

COMMUNITY websites CAN make a real difference when it comes to getting local people to change their littering habits, it seems.

It’s almost a year since Emma Jones and Andrew Wood set up their online community in Hereford dedicated to clearing up local areas, following a community litter pick the friends took part in last Easter organised by Keep Britain Tidy.

That initiative tied in with a local Herefordshire Council campaign called Stop the Drop launched in January 2016 – and a year on, the community clean-up website now boasts more than 1400 members and has its own website too.

“There’s a new national feeling that we have become recycling conscious and getting people to join was relatively easy,” says Andrew, who used local buying and selling websites to put out an appeal for volunteers to get involved.

The council stepped in with litter pickers, high-visibility vests and rubbish bags. From the start, the aim was to encourage individuals to clean up local streets around their homes on a very small scale – and that seems to be having an impact, he believes.

“You need enforcement officers to be fining people to change habits,” he said. “But it has been working very, very well.” Sponsorship from local companies has helped to make the group self-sufficient and the group liaises with those companies on the ground too.

“We will work with Asda to do the area surrounding the car park, for example,” he says. “And we will name and shame too. Companies don’t like the bad publicity if they are not clearing up their own property.”

As well as retrieving supermarket trolleys from the river and notifying the council of fly-tipping incidents, the group has launched a new project to tidy up the flower beds at the main station.

It has also forged links with other groups performing similar roles around the country – from Michelle Medler and her team in Kidderminster to the Dorset Devils in Bournemouth.

The group has increasingly developed into a social group too, as well as entering a float in the Hereford River Carnival, sprucing up the town for Hereford in Bloom and prompting a major county council campaign against dog fouling.

“We are making a difference,” insists Andrew. “It takes time and it doesn’t happen overnight. But things are changing for the better.”

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SUPERMARKET SWEEP: salvaging trolleys from the river

Beyonder holds litter ‘audit’

THE BEYONDER is holding a ‘litter audit’ across South Bucks to help assess the best way of planning a clean-up campaign in the area.

Editor Andrew Knight has written to local parish and district councils asking for information about the scale of the litter and fly-tipping problem and for information about how current resources are organised.

The initial area covered stretches from Marlow to Denham, Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Chalfont St Peter and Chalfont St Giles. It includes the whole of South Bucks District, along with parts of Chiltern and Wycombe district council areas.

Mr Knight said: “It’s a beautiful part of the Chilterns which includes three country parks but there are some through roads which are badly affected by littering and some tiny back routes which suffer from occasional fly-tipping.”

The issue has been getting increasing national exposure, most recently on this year’s BBC Springwatch series, when Michaela Strachan spoke to a number of groups in Bristol about their efforts to combat plastic pollution.

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COTTON BUD CRACKDOWN: Michaela Strachan meets Natalie Fee in Bristol

Meanwhile Michelle Medler  in Kidderminster recruited hundreds of helpers from youngsters to pensioners to join her Facebook group litter pick-up squad.

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CLEANING UP: Michelle Medler and fellow volunteers in Kidderminster

Now, to work out the scale of the problem in the Chilterns and the best way of tackling it, The Beyonder has contacted a score of parish councis asking what they are doing to cope with litter and fly-tipping, what problems they are encountering and how much it all costs.

Approaches will also be made to the three district councils in South Buckinghamshire, which are responsible for waste collection, and the county council, which looks after the highways and deals with fly-tipping complaints and waste disposal.

The survey follows consultation with campaign group Clean Up Britain, which recently launched a pioneering year-long anti-litter project in Leamington Spa, and Peter Silverman, whose Clean Highways website has long campaigned for the Highways Agency to do more to tackle litter on local motorways and motorway slip roads.

Mr Knight said: “Although our circulation area stretches over quite a large area it made sense for us to start off by assessing things on our doorstep, where we can see the scale of the problem for ourselves.”

The online magazine hopes to speak to countryside rangers, ramblers and dog walkers as well as campaigners and the relevant councils, with the aim of drawing up detailed plans for the best way of volunteers being able to play a part in tackling the problem.

For more information, contact editor@thebeyonder.co.uk or via the Facebook group, The Beyonder.

Council hails litter ‘heroes’

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VOLUNTEER litter pickers in Kidderminster have been hailed as local heroes by their district council for organising a series of litter picks around the town.

More than 300 members of the Facebook group Keeping Kidderminster and Surrounding Places Clean have been getting out and about their local streets and neighbourhoods picking up litter and disposing of it in litter bins around the district.

The idea stemmed from local teacher Michelle Medler’s new year resolution to pick up a bag of litter a day while walking her dogs – and mushroomed into a community supported by hundreds of volunteers.

Michelle said: “I’m amazed at how many people care and want to make a difference, which is great to know, and the positive comments from the public make it all worthwhile.”

After launching the group in January, she was surprised to see it grow into a 400-strong group after she initiated a number of communal litter picks in different parts of the town. Membership has since doubled to more than 800.

She soon won plaudits from councillors and council officers too. Youngsters and retired pensioners have been among the groups taking part – and Wyre Forest District Council, which has street cleaning reponsibilities in the area, praised Michelle and supplied volunteers with litter pickers, high visibility jackets and gloves, as well as advice about safely disposing of any dangerous items they came across.

Cabinet member for operational services Councillor Rebecca Vale said: “It is truly remarkable to hear about the positive impact these volunteers have had and I’d like to thank every one of them. We spend a lot of time, effort and money cleaning our streets – this just goes to show what a huge difference we can make to the look and feel of the district by working together.”

The Kidderminster model is one The Beyonder is keen to explore further. Beyonder editor Andrew Knight said: “The Kidderminster group are doing an amazing job and seem to have a real community spirit. They can also see the impact they are having on making the town cleaner – and it’s great that the district council has been so supportive.”

The Beyonder is carrying out a local audit before deciding how to pursue its anti-litter campaign in the Chilterns. It is in the process of contacting local parish, district and county councils to find out more about existing waste collection activities across south Buckinghamshire from Marlow to Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Chalfont St Giles, Chalfont St Peter and Denham.

Campaign has ‘killer’ warning

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ANTI-LITTER campaigners Clean Up Britain have published a hard-hitting second video in their drive to spell out the danger posed to animals by discarded plastics, cans, cigarette butts and chewing gum.

Launched as part of Now or Never, a ground-breaking year-long behavioural change project in Leamington Spa, the four-minute Litter Kills video graphically spells out the impact of discarded litter on wildlife and pets.

Clean Up Britain founder John Read said: “We understand the images are upsetting – that’s the point. We need to give people a reason to react strongly to seeing others litter and make those who do think twice. We have to shift attitudes and behaviour.”

The video provides more detail about the type of problems encountered by the RSPCA, which receives 5,000 calls a year about animals injured by litter. It explains how bones from discarded takeaways can kill – and how chemicals in chewing gum and cigarette ends can be poisonous for animals.

Even onions can be toxic to cats and dogs, which can also be made ill by mouldy food or choke on balloons released to mark a celebration. Likewise, wild birds can be killed or injured by plastic rings and  the sharp edges of discarded cans.

The video is part of a year-long campaign in the Warwickshire town designed to change people’s attitudes towards litter.

The campaign includes an educational pack for schools designed for 8- to 11-year-olds designed to teach them why dropping litter is bad for the environment, wildlife and communities.

It comes on a day when the UN revealed 50 nations are now taking action to reduce plastic pollution.

The UN report reveals that the Galapagos will ban single-use plastics, Sri Lanka will ban styrofoam and China is insisting on biodegradable bags.

But the authors warn that far more needs to be done to reduce the vast flow of plastic into rivers and oceans.

Arctic tide of plastic waste

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THE SEAS north of Norway and to the east of Greenland are a one-way street for the plastic waste created by communities along the east coast of the USA, the UK, Scandinavia, and the rest of north-west Europe.

Plastic waste is transported by ocean currents to the Arctic Ocean where it can affect the sensitive Arctic ecosystem, with knock-on effects for humans as the area is home to large fisheries.

These are the findings of a large research collaboration between twelve institutions from eight countries.

“We found that the Barents Sea is the terminal site for ocean plastic pollution, with high loads also encountered in the Greenland Sea,” says co-author Carlos Duarte, a professor in marine biology at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, and the Arctic Research Center at Aarhus University, Denmark.

“It happens to be also the site of one of the most productive cod fisheries in the world. So the concern is that plastic accumulated there could enter the food web, to which humans are linked via fisheries. Other animals can also ingest the plastic, particularly sea birds, which are very abundant in the Arctic,” he says.

The new results are published in the journal Science Advances and are the last piece in the puzzle that now completes the global map of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Scientists collected and analysed some of this plastic waste during a five-month-long cruise of the Arctic Ocean and compared this with plastics collected during similar studies in oceans and seas around the world. They discovered that most of the plastic waste that had collected in the Arctic Ocean was not local and must have come from far away.

Illegal dumping costs millions

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MORE than one million incidents of fly-tipping were dealt with by councils in England in 2016-17, costing taxpayers £58m to clear up.

It was the fourth year in a row that incidents increased.

About 56,000 fixed penalty notices were handed out by councils to people caught illegally dumping.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said two-thirds of fly-tipping was household waste.

There were 1,002,000 cases of fly-tipping handled by councils in England between April 2016 and March 2017, equivalent to 114 every hour.