Council staff are spending up to 12 hours a week cleaning up after litter bugs at a popular Aberdeenshire beauty spot.
Details of the drain on public funds emerged this week as councillors debated ways to tackle the ongoing issue at Haddo House and Balmedie beach.
Councillor Jim Gifford suggested that signs could explain the impact of littering on public life.
He said: “Whether it’s in bold figures or equate that to ‘we could employ seven primary school teachers if you take your litter home with you’ maybe that is a message that might resonate with people.”
Aberdeenshire Council is looking to increase its use of social media and install new signage and the Formartine Area Committee were asked to approve the plan on Tuesday, October 12.
Principal landscape services officer Andrew Mcintyre attended the meeting to inform councillors of the proposals.
He told the committee that local authority staff currently spend around 12 hours a week picking up litter and emptying bins at Haddo while it takes four hours for staff at Balmedie.
He also said that rangers have carried out 15 visits at Balmedie to keep an eye on litter levels and to monitor the use of bins.
Signage is currently in place at both parks however the council is looking to put up new ones at Balmedie to encourage people to bring their litter home instead of leaving it behind.
It is proposed that a similar campaign will run at Haddo encouraging visitors there to do the same.
Mr Mcintyre said: “The main aim that we are looking to do is continue to work with our partners at Haddo and Balmedie to try and encourage people to use bins but if they can take their litter home with them, promoting more personal responsibility and education.”
He said that social media would be used more to “encourage people to think about bringing litter to the park, do they have to bring single use plastic, could they bring something that’s reusable and bring it home with them?”
Partners at Haddo Country Park have already started work on new signs to reduce litter highlighting the need to protect the natural environment.
After raising the issue of barbecues at Balmedie, councillor Paul Johnston was told that the country park does have designated areas for this and new signage could be installed to encourage visitors to use them in a bid to maintain the surrounding landscape and environment.
Meanwhile councillor Iain Taylor suggested that photographs of the litter collected at both parks could help to highlight the problem.
He said: “If we are speaking about signs and notices or social media whether that should be a photograph to say this is how much we picked this week, this month, alongside how much came in via the bins themselves, I could see that as being a means of quantifying just how much litter there is, what it equates to moneywise and what else we could be spending that money on.”
Councillor Louise Mcallister said that the issue was “a tough nut to crack” but she liked the idea of withdrawing bins as it could prompt more people to bring their rubbish home with them, however she noted doing this could increase litter.
Her suggestion was supported by councillor Johnston who believed a no bins policy should be trialed in some areas as he said: “That would be helpful, we need to get comparative ideas”.
Reporting by Local Democracy Reporter Kirstie Topp