Livingston community officers have thanked the West Lothian Litter Pickers volunteer group for “their time and effort clearing rubbish” from Howden Park on Saturday April 10.
Jason Wilcox – who set up the volunteer group in 2019 – said: “It’s great to see that other agencies and organisations are taking note of the work we are doing.”
The group have completed their “biggest haul” operation – from what Mr Wilcox has witnessed – on Saturday morning , April 17, at Deans Industrial Estate in Livingston.
Over two hours, a group of 20 volunteers collected around 124 bags of rubbish in the area as well as twenty tyres and a lawn mower.
Mr Wilcox explained the group works by volunteers collecting rubbish and informing the council so the local authority can then collect it from the areas the group has targeted.
“I used to organise an annual pick once a year and I could see when I was driving to work in Edinburgh the amount of litter around the place and thought I’d just start the West Lothian group as I couldn’t see much in my own area of Bathgate,” said Mr Wilcox.
Around 2,400 people across West Lothian are members of the Facebook group which has seen a “spike” in membership in the last eight months, according to Mr Wilcox.
There are also sub groups of litter pickers in places such as Blackburn, Whitburn, Broxburn and Bathgate which the main litter picking group supports.
Mr Wilcox said: “We get litter picking equipment from West Lothian council and these sub groups have also been given equipment from us, the West Lothian Litter Pickers, so they are all going around maintaining their own areas which is fantastic to see.”
The group is now engaging with local councillors and MPs to drive forward the litter campaigns and to increase the fines imposed for littering.
Mr Wilcox said: “A £200 fine is not good enough. People are fly tipping because it’s cheaper than hiring a waste disposal tip.
“We want serious action against people littering whether it be out a car window or fly tipping.
“We are also setting up our own litter picking ad campaign to raise awareness for littering across West Lothian ”
The litter picking group has also set up the West Lothian Litter Pickers Educational Awareness group which will target younger people in schools.
Littering across Scotland is expected to increase as travel and socialising restrictions ease, allowing for Scots to travel across council areas and meet up with up to six people.
A police spokesman said: "Given the context of the last 12 to 13 months we would actively encourage everyone to enjoy our open spaces within West Lothian, however we do ask everyone to do this responsibly.
"Please try not to gather in large groups, restrictions are easing however Covid is still out there.
“Also, please collect you litter, refrain from setting fires and please be mindful of those living in residential areas nearby.”