Marines conduct clean sweep of Woodbury Common
Recruits based at the Royal Marines’ Commando Training Centre at nearby Lympstone regularly use the commons for military exercises. The land is also visited by thousands of people daily for recreational reasons, such as running or dog-walking.
And that means that over time a fair amount of rubbish is generated.
So, armed with plastic bags alongside their SA80 rifles, the recruits, working in conjunction with landowners Clinton Devon Estates, conducted a sweep of the commons, picking up both military and civilian rubbish as they went.
Captain Lee Piper from CTCRM explained that the heaths were an important part of the early training of new recruits, who learnt a range of skills on the commons, including fieldcraft.
He said: “We like to make sure that when we leave the area we clean up after ourselves and we conduct a litter sweep collecting both military and civilian waste from the area. There’s a lot more civilian waste than you’d like, but we pick that up as well as our own. It’s one way we’re giving something back to the community.”
Dr Sam Bridgewater, Nature Conservation Manager for Clinton Devon Estates, said he appreciated the effort the Royal Marines put in as they helped to conserve the countryside they used.
“We are very proud, as a landowner, that the Royal Marines use the Pebblebed Heaths, the majority of which comprises common land. Managing the site for wildlife and recreation and fostering a strong sense of environmental stewardship locally is an important part of the work undertaken by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, the conservation charity set up by Clinton Devon Estates. The Marines also take their responsibilities seriously.
“This site is one of the most important conservation sites in Europe, and every recruit that comes through Lympstone gets a lecture from me or one of my colleagues about the importance of the site.”
Dr Bridgewater added that it was clear from what was collected that the amount of civilian waste far outweighed the military litter, such as spent ammunition cases, that the Marines collected.
He added that the problem of waste was diverting Clinton Devon Estates staff away from their nature conservation work, and that they were now dealing with one or two major fly-tipping incidents per month.
“Dumping of any household, commercial or industrial waste on estate land – and elsewhere – is a crime under the Environmental Protection Act. Recently some fly-tippers were spotted by a member of the public, and their description and vehicle details were passed to us.
“We have forwarded that information to the police, who have already taken witness statements and are pursuing the offenders.”
If anyone spots waste being dumped on Woodbury Common or any of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, please call Dr Bridgewater at Clinton Devon Estates on 01395 443881, or the police on 101.