BY JIM WEBSTER
I’ve just been checking a batch of dry cows. They’re enjoying a well-earned rest in late pregnancy, slouching about in the sun, eating the grass and generally not doing a lot. But as I walked to see them, I caught a glimpse of something black out of the corner of my eye. Think ‘bin bag’ black if you would. So after checking them I walked across to see what it was. After all the last thing we want is the cows eating it out of curiosity.
It wasn’t a bin bag, it was a balloon with the name Haley written on it. Walking across the field I found another, also obviously designed for a small girl’s party. I’ve just looked on Google, you get 5 balloons for £15 or £45 if you have them prefilled.
There’s a shortage of Helium, and yet we use 10% of output on party balloons.
I confess I have trouble with this. What parent asks their child, “Should we celebrate your birthday by littering the place with plastic and releasing inert gasses into the atmosphere?”
“Oh yes please Mummy.”
There again, I was in the paper shop the other morning getting a paper. The lass behind the counter, harassed as ever, was frantically trying to get the magazines sorted out. Her problem was with the magazines aimed at children. A thin magazine as made several times thicker by the plastic tat, ponies and stuff, fastened to the front using a plastic wrapper. One comment made was that, as it’s a promotion and the majority won’t sell, they’ll just be returned to be pulped. If we’re bringing up people inured to assume life is decorated with large quantities of expendable cheap plastic tat, no wonder they don’t have a problem with sending off helium balloons at random.
Look, I realise that a lot of people live in pretty grim areas, robbed of hope and aspiration by generations of planners who have obviously plotted to ensure that the areas are as dire as possible. But just because they want to destroy the environment, it doesn’t mean you have to sell them the stuff to do it with.
Then there are sky lanterns. Yes I know they’re ancient and cultural, they may have been invented about 2000 years ago by a Chinese general for battlefield signalling. But just because the Chinese invented it doesn’t make it a good idea. They invented female foot-binding as well.
Stop and think about the conversation…
“How are you going to celebrate your wedding?”
“Well I thought we’d spew burning lanterns over the countryside.”
“Cool, well I suppose that nowadays dragon fire is completely out of budget. I’m glad you’ve decided to start your married life as you mean to go on.”
But the problem is that we seem to have an urban population who contain a considerable number who largely don’t seem to care. I remember this time last year, the Nation Park commented that in 2020 they’d been swamped with people. The Park staff normally collect 10 bin bags of litter per week. (Obviously this does not include the litter people have very correctly deposited in bins.) Yet after the late May bank holiday weekend in 2020 they collected 138 bags of litter, picked up off the ground.
Similarly park staff normally dispose of around 3 pieces of human waste from their car parks in the average month. In this one weekend they disposed over 100 pieces of human waste. Many of these in car parks where there was a toilet that was open.
But then the Great British Public have a bad attitude to sewage. The Environment Agency will allow the various water firms to discharge raw sewage into rivers during storms. They do this because it cuts down on the pressure on the sewers. This means that there is a lesser risk of waste backing up, possibly flooding homes and communities. The trouble is, nobody is quite sure what the level of rainfall is before they’re allowed to do this. Volunteers monitoring the River Wharfe recorded 136 spills from one of Ilkley’s sewage-treatment works on 77 days last year.
Let’s put this in proportion, if this had been a family dairy farm with a slurry pit leaking, they’d have been sued into bankruptcy long ago, but nobody is quite sure when things will improve with water companies and sewage discharges.
Now let us be blunt here. Whose sewage is it? I thought we were supposed to be working towards a ‘polluter pays’ situation. Surely if the inhabitants of an area are polluting that area with their sewage, they ought to pay to have a proper system put in?
Oh and does Haley want her balloons back?
Jim Webster farms at the bottom end of South Cumbria. Jim was encouraged to collect together into a book some blog posts he’d written because of their insight into Cumbrian farming and rural life (rain, sheep, quad-bikes and dogs) It’s available here.