Nick Herbert targets the scourge of litter

Nick Herbert departed from the usual election campaigning on Tuesday (20 April) by mobilising his team to pick up litter.


The Shadow Environment Secretary, who is standing as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Arundel & South Downs on 6 May, wanted to take part in a social action project for the day.

But he also took the opportunity to send a strong message about the need for a "serious plan" to deal with litter.

He began the day by taking his 'Tory Green Team' to clear up litter at Chanctonbury Ring near Steyning.

In the afternoon, Mr Herbert visited a 160 acre site managed by The Steyning Downland Scheme, a project launched by the Wiston Estate and conservation charity A Rocha in 2007 to encourage local people, especially young people, to learn about the countryside.

Mr Herbert was met by project manager Bryony Webb who led the litter pick on the site, which is just a few minutes walk from Steyning High Street and home to a wide range of birds, animals, insects and flowers.

Mr Herbert then joined volunteers from Steyning Community Partnership's Litter Picking Group on the Henfield Road between Upper Beeding and Small Dole to clear litter from the verges.

In a video message recorded at Chanctonbury Ring, Mr Herbert said the problem of litter was getting worse and that a "serious plan" was needed to deal with it.

Mr Herbert said that tough and consistent enforcement was required, but that "smart solutions" should also be introduced, including more can and bottle banks that provide an incentive for people to dispose of recyclables appropriately.

He said that he also wanted to see producer responsibility for all the chewing gum, cans, crisp packets and plastic bottles that "disfigure" the countryside and the streets of our towns and villages.

According to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), it costs £2.1 million a day to clear up litter.



Notes for Editors

1. To view Nick Herbert's video message, visit

2. A full transcript of the video message follows:

"Well, I'm up on the top of the South Downs, in the Chanctonbury Ring, a world famous heritage site planted here in the 18th Century, a ring of beech trees. Some of them blew down in the gales in 1987. And this site has been here for many years beforehand. There was a Roman [temple] located here.  Beautiful views all around.  And many thousands of people walking past on the South Downs Way .... People come up here to visit this place but sadly some people also leave an awful lot of litter and abuse this stunning natural environment.

"I'm here with a group of Tory volunteers, the Tory Green Team, clearing up this litter.  So, it's social action, happening in front of us.  But what I also want to say is that we must do something about litter in our countryside and in our urban environment.  It's getting worse.  All the figures show that this problem is getting worse and I think it's time for a really serious plan to deal with it.

"For a start I think there needs to be producer responsibility.  What about the manufacturers of chewing gum which so disfigures our streets?  What about the manufacturers of the cans, and the crisp packets and the plastic bottles that are strewn around everywhere.  Maybe they could play a part in helping to prevent this.  Let's have some smart solutions.  For instance, bottle and can banks that give a value to these products so that people actually want to return them rather than just discarding them.

"I think we need tougher enforcement too, maybe tougher fines, but certainly more consistent enforcement so that we really do crack down on litterbugs.  But above all I think what we need is social and individual responsibility.  We just have to instil it in people from school age onwards that it is wrong to litter, that it does disfigure our countryside and our towns and our cities. That someone else has to pick this up. I think it's time to be serious about dealing with litter and serious about respecting our countryside and our streets and making a better quality of life for people."

3. Last year, Nick Herbert spoke at the launch of a new report, ‘Litterbugs', published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Policy Exchange think tank. For more information, visit

4. The Conservative Party Manifesto includes a pledge to "work to reduce litter, which spoils too much of our countryside and urban environment". For the full Manifesto, visit

5. For more information on The Steyning Downland Scheme, visit

6. For more information on Chanctonbury Ring, an English Heritage site, visit

7. For the website of Keep Britain Tidy, visit

Alexander Black