Black bags are mingled with bluebells, worn tyres are liberally sprinkled around. Unsavoury sights are easy to find in what has been described as South Yorkshire’s loveliest dale, which also lies within the worst fly-tipping blackspot in the country.
Fly-tipping is a serious problem for many rural areas and the Ewden Valley, eight miles north-west of Sheffield, is suffering more than most.
The valley features two reservoirs – Broomhead and More Hall – and has become a haven for illegal dumpers.
This weekend sees the beginning of a crusade by the local communities with the backing of several organisations and their MP Angela Smith, to rid the valley of its rubbish.
Dan Lyons who lives in nearby Stocksbridge and is one of the organisers of the Ewden Valley Community Clean Up project says, “The valley is a hidden gem of Yorkshire, a stunningly beautiful dale.
“But it is being spoilt by a lot of what we see as ‘man in a van’ fly tipping.
“It seems unbelievable that anyone would just go and dump their rubbish in any public place or on someone else’s land, but that’s exactly what is happening.
“When you see black bin liners full of rubbish hurled over a fence and lying alongside the beauty of a bluebell wood you really do wonder about people.
“It is a pretty despicable act which is ruining a beauty spot, damaging the environment and causing suffering and in some cases death to wildlife. DIY materials, old bathrooms, armchairs, settees, you name it, we’ve had it.
“You can’t always rely on city councils to do everything. That’s why we need the community behind us to raise awareness and show people how they can help.
“This Saturday our Clean Up project starts in earnest when anyone who is interested is invited to meet at Ewden Village and work with us to remove the rubbish.”
Sheffield City Council and the police will be conducting stop and search operations on suspicious vehicles and CCTV cameras will be in position at notorious fly-tipping hotspots to gather evidence.
“We do think that Sheffield City Council could up their game on the number of prosecutions for fly-tipping,” added Dan Lyons.
“It has the highest number of reported incidents of fly-tipping in the whole of the UK but their prosecutions only ever reach around a dozen a year. Smaller authorities such as Doncaster have a much better record of prosecution.”
Frances Tivey, chair of the Bolsterstone Community Group, a small village above the dale, says, “If everyone reported what they saw it would all get shifted much more quickly and we would also have a better chance of ridding ourselves of this blight.”
John King, planning officer for the Campaign for Rural England, which is backing the clean-up, said, “Ewden Valley has always been a popular run out in the countryside for the people of Sheffield and we cherish it. It is terrible to see it getting ruined by rubbish. We are really pleased to be doing something practical about it.’
The clean-up today has two sessions: 9.30am for 10am – noon and 12.30pm for 1pm – 3pm. Meeting point is Ewden Village on the Yorkshire Water road above/north of the overflow between Broomhead and More Hall reservoirs, between New Mill Bridge and Yew Trees Lane.