A resident of Drumcharry, by Garth, which is on the Etape Caledonia route has added his voice to complaints about the extent of countryside littering that it causes and has written in strong terms to the organisers.
Alan Gordon told Comment: “In general, I don’t have any issues with the event being held in our area each year, despite the inconvenience of road closures. It benefits some businesses, negatively impacts others but overall I can see the advantages of the event being held in Perthshire.

Increasing Volume
Etape2015rubbishWebAlan Gordon’s letter ran: “...I do seriously object and wish to complain about what appears to be an annually increasing volume of litter being left behind by some of the cyclists taking part in your event.
“I find it staggering that a growing minority of cyclists seem to have no regard for blatantly dropping litter – which is a criminal offence and subject to a £50 fine for each occurrence – in an area, which is rightly described on the race website as  ‘of outstanding natural beauty’.
“I also find it ironic that these same participants are (in theory) attracted to the event as it raises important funds for a very worthwhile charity, ie a self-less act for the benefit of others, whilst at the same time showing no care for the adverse effect dropping litter has on the countryside and the varied wildlife that live in it.”
His letter pointed out: “In previous years, I haven’t felt so inclined to formally complain but after this year’s event I was appalled by the disgraceful volumes left behind. I live at Drumcharry (near the 55 mile marker) and last evening my wife and I walked around a mile or so from our house eastwards to the bridge at Keltneyburn picking up the litter left behind (pictured).
“In total, there were 79 pieces of litter (excluding a few banana skins) that were all plastic type in material and won’t simply disappear by themselves in a few days. The overwhelming majority were energy gel packets followed by cereal bars.”

Hypocrisy
EtapelitterDuneavesWebAppreciating that the event organisers ‘cannot change the mentality of everyone that thinks this sort of disgraceful and selfish behaviour is acceptable, presumably because nobody sees them’, his letter argued that: “as it’s not in their part of the countryside...they don’t understand the hypocrisy of what they are doing. However, as race event organisers, you do have a responsibility for them and this shameful behaviour.
“When T in the Park and other major events finish, the organisers don’t simply dismantle the stages and leave, there is clear up work to be done to ensure the area is left as it was beforehand.”
The letter concluded: “I would therefore like to understand what you propose doing about this and also how you plan to better educate participants or indeed punish offenders for future events”.

Logistic Difficulties
A spokesperson for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia Team replied by email: “Please note, the prevention and clear-up of litter is very important to us which is why we have preventative information on the event website and within the Race Information Guide. We also have numerous signs in and around the Event Village.
“Unfortunately, with over 5,000 participants we are unable to police every rider on our 81 mile route, and due to logistics and timings on the event day it is not possible to litter pick immediately. However, our event team make it a priority to litter pick the whole route, the day after the event.

Disqualification Threat?
“Please also be informed, we have organised and funded an additional road sweep which has now been completed. Should you find any further rubbish, please take a photo in situ and inform us, so we are able to notify the council.”
Alan Gordon told Comment that his response to this was: “Clearing up is all fine, but prevention is better. Perhaps they would consider telling participants that if they are caught dropping litter they will be disqualified. Difficult to enforce, I know, but at least it would send a strong message.”
Simultaneously  Alastair Kininmonth, who farms along Duneaves Road by Fortingall, on the other side of the river Lyon, sent images and a letter to the press of the litter collected on his land along the route on 13 May. 
He expressed his keen disappointment that the organisers had failed to carry out the commitment made to uplift rubbish by the time that they had pledged.
A spokesperson for VistRannoch reported: “Etape, using rural parts of Highland Perthshire over a 130km route, helps to promote this beautiful area of Scotland and raises money for a great cause.  This is where some of the great news story ends. 

Littering An Offence
“Again, communities have been left to clear the litter themselves. The litter crew only picked up from the road and did it by car.  So a big thank you has to go out to those individuals in the Rannoch community that went and walked sections of the route and cleaned verges, road and beyond the verges of gel packets, bottles etc.  If this (what was collected ) was a rough estimate of the amount of litter dropped there are at least 5,200 articles polluting our countryside and livestock. 
“It is an offence to drop litter, but how do we stop it?  It is a shame that such a great event is tarnished by the mess left behind.”

 

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