Beer cans, broken glass and used face masks among rubbish left at Penshaw Monument as National Trust sees 'drastic increase' in litter
Visitors to Penshaw Monument have been urged to do their bit to keep it clean after its custodians have been faced with a rise in rubbish.
The National Trust is calling for people to take their litter home after seeing a “drastic increase” in waste left at the landmark, which draws in 60,000 visitors a year.
It says concerns are growing as Easter arrives and because warmer weather has encouraged more visits.
Items dumped have included beer cans, broken glass, face masks, takeaway boxes, dog waste bags and plastic containers, which the trust says is problematic to animals, vegetation and people who visit.
In March, rangers collected twice as much rubbish compared to the same month last year, filling 10 bin bags in a day.
As lockdown starts to ease, they want people to better understand the damaging impact on the environment.
The Echo runs the Clean Streets campaign, encouraging people to make the city a greener and cleaner place.
Sarah Murray, visitor operations and experience manager for the National Trust, said: “It’s been great to see so many people enjoying spending time outdoors this past year.
"Penshaw Monument is a cultural landmark people are proud of, and we hope it’s provided some moments of calm throughout the pandemic.
"But we’d like to ask everyone who visits to think about the impact they have, especially the litter they leave behind.”
Chemicals from litter are released into the environment as it breaks down.
As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the magnesium limestone terrain has created an ecosystem for rare wildflowers, invertebrate and birds, but harmful chemicals compromise the composition of the soil.
Like other charities, National Trust has found the pandemic challenging, putting a further strain on its resources, preventing it from achieving its conservation work.
Helen McDonald, head ranger at Penshaw, added: "Volunteers are set to return as lockdown eases, meaning there will be extra hands to clear up the site and more time to focus on pathway restoration, woodland management and wildlife surveys.
“We want to spread awareness of the litter problem at Penshaw Monument especially as Easter is a time when we always notice an increase in litter.
"We we can all do our bit to keep this place special by taking our litter home.”