Council awarded funding to tackle the sticky issue of chewing gum on streets in Fermanagh and Omagh

20th September 2023

Irvinestown Chewing Gum Clean up (2)

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council was successful in receiving a grant of £25,000 from the Chewing Gum Task Force, administered by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, which will help to clean up chewing gum and reduce gum littering.

The Council has completed works to remove the chewing gum that blights our local streets in Ballinamallard, Ederney, Irvinestown and Kesh and further works are scheduled to be undertaken in Dromore, Drumquin, Lisnaskea and Newtownbutler.

The Council is one of 56 Councils across the country to have successfully applied to the Chewing Gum Task Force, now in its second year, for funds to clean gum off pavements and erect signage to prevent it from being littered again.

Established by DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and run by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, the Chewing Gum Task Force Grant Scheme is open to Councils across the UK who wish to clean up gum in their local areas and invest in long-term behaviour change to prevent gum from being dropped in the first place.

The Task Force is funded by major gum manufacturers including Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle, with the investment spread over five years. This year the selected Councils will receive funding totalling more than £1.2 million.

Monitoring and evaluation carried out by Behaviour Change has shown that in the areas which benefitted last year, a reduced rate of gum littering is still being observed six months after clean-up and the installation of prevention materials.

Speaking about the initiative, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, said:

“Chewing gum is a nuisance on our streets, it is unsightly and it is also harmful to the environment and wildlife.

The Council spends a considerable amount on street cleansing, therefore, this funding is a welcome boost to help the Council to tackle the issue and try to encourage behaviour change to reduce the amount of litter, including chewing gum, being dropped on our streets.

We would like people to take pride in the towns and villages throughout the District to ensure that it is a great place to live, work, visit and invest in.  I am delighted that the funding is being used to address the issues in our rural areas.”

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

“Littering blights our communities, spoils our countryside, harms our wildlife and wastes taxpayers’ money when cleaning it up. That’s why we’re working with gum producers to tackle chewing gum stains.

After the success of the first round of funding, this next slice will give Councils further support to clean up our towns and cities.

In its first year the task force awarded 44 grants worth a total of £1.2 million, benefitting 53 councils who were able to clean an estimated 2.5km2 of pavement, an area larger than 467 football pitches.

By combining targeted street cleaning with specially designed signage to encourage people to bin their gum, participating Councils achieved reductions in gum littering of up to 80% in the first two months.”

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, said: “Chewing gum litter is highly visible on our high streets and is both difficult and expensive to clean up, so the support for councils provided by the Chewing Gum Task Force and the gum manufacturers is very welcome.

However, once the gum has been cleaned up, it is vital to remind the public that when it comes to litter, whether it’s gum or anything else, there is only one place it should be – in the bin – and that is why the behaviour change element of the task force’s work is so important.”

The Council is committed to protecting the environment and mitigating against the impact of Climate Change through the actions outlined within its Climate Change and Sustainable Development Action Plan.

We can all help to achieve this by reducing the amount of litter dropped on our beautiful landscapes.  The Council would encourage residents to register for its Litter Champions Scheme so you can play your part in helping to keep the District clean and welcoming and to protect our natural environment.