A team of volunteers who were horrified at the state of Larne Lough removed 53 bags of rubbish from the shore in a two-day clean-up.
Members of the Northern Ireland Environmental Support Team travelled from Portglenone, Kilrea and Rasharkin after viewing pictures of the lough’s rubbish-strewn banks.
The group are now planning to join forces with local residents , Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and River Ridge Recycling this Saturday morning (January 14) in an attempt to clear more rubbish away from the local beauty spot.
Group member Donna Rainey said she “couldn’t believe the lough was so bad.”
“When I saw it myself it was even worse,” she stated.
“We were stepping on carpets of litter, there was the crunching of bottles and plastic .
“The first day there were four volunteers and we cleared away 30 bags of rubbish; the second day three of us cleared away 23 bags, so in total we got rid of 53 bags of rubbish. Larne Lough is one of the greatest assets Larne has, it should be a great draw for tourists but we were completely horrified and couldn’t believe how bad it was.
“The whole area is completely neglected and yet it’s just beside the council’s recycing yard.”
Donna’s group is now planning to clean the area above the shore line along the Harbour Highway.
“We would like to invite adults only to help blitz the area, which is peppered with rubbish,” she continued.
“We are meeting at 9.30am in the Home Bargains car park with the clean up starting at 10am and finishing at 12pm. Please wear appropriate warm clothing and boots.”
Local photographer Gavin Ferguson, whose pictures of wild birds wading through rubbish inspired Donna to act, praised the volunteers’ work.
“If this is successful I am hoping to found a clean-up group,” he stated. “It would be good for the council to show initiative without the public and volunteers having to make them aware of this issue.”
A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said that the local authority “currently only have a statutory duty to clear litter from designated bathing beaches.”
“Council continues ensured that the litter is not related to the nearby Household Recycling Centre with regular monitoring, management and clearance of loose materials on the site,” he added.
“Following previous reports of dumping by hauliers in and out of Larne Harbour, our Director of Operations wrote to Larne Harbour urging them to address the issue with drivers.
“The area has also been a focus for our Litter Wardens during patrols and Council will take a robust approach to offenders.
The spokesperson said the council had “reviewed the accumulation of litter in the Larne Lough area” and was “working with the environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Tidy towards a cooperative approach to tackling the problem and to help in future efforts to clean up the Larne Lough and bankside area.”
Praising the work of the volunteers, the council spokesperson appealed for people to use the waste facilities provided and asked the public to report fly-tipping or illegal dumping online, or by telephoning 0300 124 5000 and speaking to Waste Operations staff.