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Conservation group’s village rallying call

Mr Coutts is a well-known litter crusader in Angus.
Mr Coutts is a well-known litter crusader in Angus.

An Angus conservation group has vowed there will be no let up in its fight to clean up their village.

The St Vigeans Conservation Network is embarking on its third year of voluntary work in and around the historic village in Arbroath.

The group is now urging like-minded villagers to “come and get their hands dirty” as communities across Angus continue to wage war on litter.

Ralph Coutts set up the litter taskforce in response to what he described at the time as “years of neglect” of St Vigeans.

The final straw was a burn clear-up operation which he conducted single-handedly which left him shocked at the amount of debris at the beauty spot.

Mr Coutts said: “Over the last two years, we have faced many challenges including an increase in dog fouling, litter, graffiti and damage to poo bins.

“It has been a testing few years and most of these things would go unnoticed if it wasn’t for the efforts of the group which have kept ploughing on.

“We also carry out burn clearance and litter picks and so far I have funded the group’s tools myself but we finally look like getting a committee, constitution and bank account.

“I would like to encourage local wildlife enthusiasts and any other members of the community to come and get their hands dirty as the work of the group would be nothing without its volunteers.

“It’s a great way to get out and socialise and meet a diverse group of people.”

Mr Coutts recently put up 11 bird boxes and planted snowdrops and bluebells in a wooded section of the village.

“Over the past two years we have cleaned the burn removing all debris, painted signage and put in benches,” he said.

“We also created a wildlife habitat and we have monitored the many abundant species of wildlife that lives in the area.”

This year the group is looking to involve youth clubs and schools in its litter picks and pond dipping nights.

There are also plans to organise some bat walks to monitor the many species of bats that call St Vigeans home.

“Getting involved is a good way of lifting stresses that people feel after a cold winter — it’s also a great way to get active,” said Mr Coutts.

“Cutbacks are biting hard now and that’s even more reason for ordinary members of the public to get involved.

“Over recent months I have been very enthused by our neighbours in Warddykes picking up the baton and doing some litter picking.

“Councillor Derek Wann has been very active in helping the group and we need this level of support from everyone going forward into our third year.”

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