Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is supporting ‘The Right Side of Outside’ campaign launched by WalkNI, which aims to encourage more positive behaviours outdoors.
It is hoped this behaviour change will ultimately ease some of the main problems in many popular outdoor parks and scenic spaces in Northern Ireland.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Newry, Mourne and Down has seen large numbers enjoying its outdoor areas and scenic expanses. Whilst this interest in the outdoors is extremely positive in facilitating the opportunity for people to exercise, it has generated significant issues that are negatively impacting local beauty spots, with issues such as littering, dog waste, irresponsible car parking, livestock worrying, disturbance to wildlife, overcrowding and damage that can be caused by wild camping and wildfires.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin said, “Whilst it is great to see so many people getting out and about looking after their health in these unprecedented times, it is also important we protect our beauty spots.
“I am asking that everyone plan ahead for their visit to our stunning region and come with the intention of bringing their litter home. If you have a dog, please ensure it is kept on a lead and clean up after it. Be mindful that when car parks fill up, it often leads to people parking wherever they can find a space, and this often results in blocking access to emergency services or to a farmer’s field.
“The majority of visitors are considerate but unfortunately there are still a small number who are not. I want visitors to enjoy the outdoors, but they must respect the environment and the local residents. As COVID-19 regulations continue to change visitors must adhere to the current guidance.
“The Right Side of Outside campaign will roll out over the coming weeks, with the first campaign message focusing on littering, an issue that WalkNI recognises is widespread throughout the country. The main message is to bring your litter home with you. Some outdoor areas don’t have bins and if they do they can quickly overfill. Also, items such as apple cores and banana skins can be a real danger to wildlife, so the message is, please take your litter home.”
The campaign is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and is being driven by a wider group of organisations currently being affected by these issues. To find out more about the campaign or discover tips to help you make the right choices outdoors, visit WalkNI’s Blog or search #RightSideofOutside.