Anti-litter campaigners call for action to make McDonald's take responsibility for rubbish in new Warwick McDonald's plans

Anti-litter campaigners are calling for action to try and make McDonald's to take responsibility for their rubbish after plans were recently submitted for another restaurant in Warwick.

The campaigners are behind the Now or Never campaign in Leamington aimed at tackling people's behaviour towards littering. The campaign is part of the wider Clean Up Britain organisation.

Earlier this month The Courier and KWN shared a story about plans for another McDonald's restaurant at the former Harvester premises in Warwick despite the first one - next to Tesco in Emscote Road - not being open yet.

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Plans revealed for another McDonald's in Warwick
Campaigners are pushing for conditions to be put on McDonald's to help combat litter. Top shows the former Harvester premises in Warwick, bottom left shows a gv of McDonalds and bottom right shows the Emscote Road McDonald's being built (Photo by Geoff Ousbey).

Last week The Courier also shared a story about objections mounting against the plans for the new restaurant and as of Friday October 18 there are more than 70 objection comments and six supporting comments on Warwick District Council's planning portal.

Litter from McDonald's is one of the reasons many residents have objected to the new plans, but it also featured as a reason when the plans for the Emscote Road restaurant were submitted.

The Now or Never campaigners are urging Warwick District Council to impose conditions on McDonald's to help tackle the litter problem ahead of the plans - on the former Harvester site - potentially being granted.

John Read, the founder of Clean Up Britain, has sent an open letter to The Courier and Warwick District Council asking for the conditions.

In the letter John said: "As you know, Clean Up Britain, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, is running a five year anti-litter behavioural change campaign called 'Now or Never', here in Leamington.

"We're delighted that Warwick District Council (WDC) and the Leamington Courier are two of our 63 partners.

"It's the most comprehensive and sustained anti-litter behavioural change pilot campaign undertaken in Britain.

"We're trying to identify and 'incubate' new and innovative initiatives that might make a meaningful and measurable difference in providing long term behavioural change towards littering. This will benefit everyone in Warwick and Leamington.

"As you know, fast food littering is a big problem in Leamington, and throughout the country.

"Putting aside whether Warwick and Leamington really needs a fourth McDonald's restaurant for a population of 86,000 people, we note that McDonald's have applied for planning permission to open another drive-thru restaurant on the site of the former Harvester restaurant in Warwick.

"Clean Up Britain has no ideological objection to McDonald's whatsoever, and we are not intending to oppose the planning application.

"However, we do have an objection to a multi-billion pound international company that have become experts in 'greenwashing' - the practice of trying to gloss over the damage their business does to the environment (because of the masses of litter created), and merely pretend to be doing something meaningful about addressing it.

"Consequently, we would invite Warwick District Council to show bold leadership by insisting that these three planning conditions need to be met by McDonald's before they are granted permission to build another restaurant - with all the associated litter that will accrue - in our community."

The conditions John suggested were:

1. The council imposing a restriction on McDonald's so they display the Now or Never campaign's littering posters at the site

2. Making McDonald's install anti-litter messages inside the restaurant

3. Making McDonald's install an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system to link their customer's litter with car registration number plates.

Continuing the letter John said: "WDC's planning committee might also ask them why - if they are genuinely committed to combating litter - they have declined to join the 'Now or Never' campaign in Leamington.

"They [McDonald's] say they care about the local community, but some might say they really only care about the community's money.

"I know the Council is massively committed to improving our environment and, through Warwick District Council's participation in the 'Now or Never' campaign, this would be a great way to show this commitment in action."

In response to the letter, Cllr Alan Rhead, Warwick District Council's portfolio holder for environment and business, said: "While this is essentially a planning matter and must be addressed under planning policies and without emotion I have asked the head of planning to consider John Read’s points.

"John is not so much objecting to the application but wants McDonald’s to be more accountable for the litter that it creates and the behaviour of its clients in such regard.

"Consequently I have asked the head of planning to consider how it might be possible to condition any approval (should approval be granted) in empathy with John’s suggestions.

"I must re-emphasise however that the application must be considered under planning policies alone."

Clean Up Britain's patron Jeremy Paxman, has also highlighted that firms like McDonald's could do more to tackle the litter problem.

Jeremy said: "It’s obvious that firms like McDonald’s have started to wonder whether it really enhances their brand to have most people’s experience of it coming from seeing it in the trash at the roadside. That is why McDonald’s picks up litter around its restaurants.

"But... they could do much more - and they know it.

"For example, they could install an automatic number plate recognition system at their drive-thru’s, so that litter can be linked to cars.

"They could put up notices inside their restaurants telling their customers not to drop litter.

"And they could spend a significant proportion of their advertising budget on ‘McMessages’ about litter."

Responding to Jeremy's comments John, said: "Jeremy is right - why not start implementing these innovations in Warwick?

"That's what we're urging Warwick District Council to do.

"We're interested in experimenting with new initiatives that might have a direct effect on reducing anti-social littering behaviour, and these would be an integral part of the 'Now or Never' behavioural change campaign here in Leamington, of which the Council is, of course, a key partner."

It is not yet known when the plans would go before Warwick District Council's planning committee.

To view the plans or to submit comments go to Warwick District Council's planning portal and search for application: W/19/1473