Green Kilometre Scheme latest effort to combat littering
The Green Kilometre Scheme is a new effort to help keep the roadsides, hedges, footpaths and cycleways clean, said the cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council when he launched it this week.
Cllr Ken Glynn took a walk to the Belmont Road area of Mullingar to launch the scheme, and explained that it invites individuals and groups in rural areas to become involved in looking after their own localities.
“I am, as is Westmeath county Council, very aware and appreciative of the vast amount of work being done by individuals, community groups and Tidy Towns groups in the county – however, they will never be able to reach every kilometre in the county.
“I’m a keen walker and I’ve noticed since lockdowns and restrictions came into force that there is an increase in walking and cycling and this has increased awareness of the litter on the roadside, the wildlife in the hedgerows and built heritage features such as old gates, or water pumps.
“This scheme offers the opportunity for people to get involved and make a positive contribution in their areas.”
The idea is that individuals or groups choose a rural kilometre (or longer stretch of road/loop) in their areas.
They then commit to maintaining that stretch over the course of a year, and indicate what they intend do for that time – for example, pick up litter or maintain verges.
Ruth Maxwell from the council’s Environment Department said that“each Green Kilometre will be examined once a year, not to judge, but to offer advice in terms of litter, hedge maintenance, care of heritage features.
“Incentives such as supplying native saplings like holly, guelder rose, or rowan will be offered for planting on the chosen stretch of road and a certificate of participation will be issued to each participant/group,” she said.
“To assist participants, clean-up kits including litter pickers, hi-vis vests, bags and gloves are available and can be requested on registration.”
Minister for Trade Promotion, Robert Troy TD, said: “This is a positive initiative and will provide good momentum to keep our greenways clear of litter.
“As people might be aware, I’ve started picking up litter as I exercise around my 5km and I am encouraging everyone to do their bit for the county to keep our greenways green.
“I’m glad to see Westmeath County Council supporting and adopting similar initiatives and I hope many more will avail of the support and advice.”
Cllr Vinny McCormack welcomed the Green Kilometre Scheme too. “A lot of individuals and community groups are active in cleaning up and maintenance and it’s great to see a scheme like this recognise that work.
“While there is still a lot of illegal dumping taking place, this scheme will encourage more participation, and it’s very welcome.”
The Green Kilometre scheme is part of the council’s Environmental Awareness Programme and is funded by the council in conjunction with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
The scheme also supports the government’s ‘Keep Well Campaign’, which is aimed at showing people of all ages how we can mind our own physical and mental health and wellbeing by adding healthy and helpful habits to our daily and weekly routines.
The scheme also supports the actions of the council’s Climate Change Adaption Strategy by encouraging the planting of native trees and shrubs to clean the air and provide shelter and food for myriad birds, insects and wildlife.