Ecology Island

Set in the heart of Dartford’s Central Park, the Ecology Island sits on land that was formerly owned by Glaxosmithkline and was gifted to Dartford Borough Council some years ago. With the river Darent running along both sides of the site, it does feel as though you are on an actual island! These days the Ecology Island is home to a river dipping platform, outdoor amphitheatre and stunning hand painted wooden building called The Ecology of Colour.

The North West Countryside Partnership holds weekly wellbeing sessions here in partnership with North Kent Mind and Dartford Borough Council (see http://northwestkent.explorekent.org/what-we-do/natural-ways-wellbeing/ ) as well as ad hoc school and holiday activities.

Please watch our short video to find out more about our ecology island project and the difference it is making to the mental health of our participants:

 

For more information please see http://www.dartford.gov.uk/by-category/leisure-and-culture2/parks-and-open-spaces/central-park2/ecology-island

 

Report on our Litter Innovation Fund (LIF) project at Ecology Island

 

Final Report

Further to your award it is important for us to evaluate how effective your research project has been and if the wider aims of the fund have been achieved.

 

The purpose of the Litter Innovation Fund is to support councils and communities in the development and evaluation of innovative approaches to tackling litter, which have the potential to be implemented more widely. The Litter Strategy also encourages people to use and contribute to online best-practice ‘hubs’, to help test and refine new innovations, share learning and extend the implementation of best-practice.   It is therefore a condition of your award that you provide a full report of your project, to share in the knowledge and insights gained from your experiences and, if successful, to enable others to replicate it.

 

To assist these two aims, we require you to complete the following document. Section A sets out a template final report which is designed to provide the information needed to identify interventions with the potential for wider application, and to enable your project to be implemented by others if appropriate.. Please consult the monitoring and evaluation guidance for further help on answering any questions. You can also contact us at LitterFund@wrap.org.uk.

 

As set out in the guidance to applicants once we have signed off this report, successful applicants are expected to make the information from Section A of this template available online, to share best practice, enable others to replicate your project and learn from your experience. Information that you share with us may also be subject to requests for disclosure by Defra or MHCLG under the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations. It is likely therefore that information from this report will be released into the public domain. If there is any information contained in your report that you wish to remain confidential or regard as subject to copyright or commercially sensitive please clearly identify it. In particular, please do not include personal data of any individuals.

 

The completed form should be e-mailed to litterfund@wrap.org.uk

 

 

 

 

LIF Reference Code

 

ENG101-011 LIF  

Date

 

23/10/2018
Organisation Name

 

North West Kent Countryside Partnership  

Completed by

 

Isabel Shaw

 

 

Project Abstract

Please provide an overview of this report, up to 400 words (Grant funding amount received, Aims, Results and Scalability of the project)

 

The project aimed to tackle litter levels issuing from a surface water outfall pipe on the River Darent in Dartford. Our aim was to run an awareness campaign with Dartford schools (through assemblies and a poster competition) to educate local children about where their litter goes if they drop it in the town centre. We displayed the posters in Dartford over the summer months and monitored litter levels at the outfall pipe every week with volunteers, to see whether the campaign had had any effect on the litter levels. The project ran from June-September 2018.

 

The assemblies and poster competition were successful in educating local children. Feedback from teachers was that the children had been affected by the assemblies and had taken the message on board. We had some lovely, thought-provoking posters. I do believe that many of these children would have taken the message home to their families and will think twice before dropping litter as they grow older.

The monitoring activities were also successful – we were able to engage with a group of local people that became very interested in the project and the river, and we will be working with them on other river projects in the future.

 

However, we were unable to build up solid evidence on the effect of this work on litter levels because the project happened to take place over a period of prolonged drought. There barely any rain at all to wash any litter from the town centre into the Darent via the outfall pipe. This undoubtedly interfered with the results, which showed a marked downward trend in litter levels during the project. It would be nice to claim this was all due to our campaign, but the weather was undoubtedly a factor too.

 

To get a better idea of whether this kind of education-based project influences litter levels, it would need to be carried out across a longer time period, during times of heavier rainfall when rivers are more affected by surface water littering.

 

The project itself was easy to run, and could easily be replicated anywhere in the country.

 

 

Final Report

 

·         What did your intervention aim to achieve?  Set out the intended outcomes and impacts.
 

Town centre rubbish dropped in the street is often washed down drains, and through our antiquated drainage system is then washed into water bodies. Rivers are often conduits for large amounts of urban litter that eventually ends up in our surrounding seas, causing ecological damage. This projects tackles two problems which are contributing to the above issue: a lack of public awareness of where their dropped litter could end up, and surface water drainage systems with outfalls that directly flow into rivers from street level. We have chosen to address this issue because we recently (April 2017) started a conservation volunteer group on the River Darent at Dartford, and the group has been shocked at litter levels issuing from the outfall pipe there.

 

Urban communities are often asked not to drop litter, but not enough emphasis is placed on educating them exactly what will happen if they do choose to drop litter. We hope that this project will prove that educating them on where their wrappers could end up will make them think twice about dropping it. We also think that targeting school children will encourage them to go home and tell their families what they have learned.

 

The need for this project has been observed during weekly conservation volunteering sessions on the River Darent at Dartford over a nine month period, where our team has noticed large amounts of litter building up on the outfall grills.

 

Outputs will be a fully worked-up assembly that can be presented to schools anywhere in the country; a set of posters that can be used anywhere; a data set which shows where the majority of the River Darent’s litter is coming from; a data set which shows whether an educaton and poster campaign in town centres has an effect on the amount of litter ending up in local rivers.

What was your project plan?

 

 

At the surface water outfall pipe, we picked up, sorted and counted litter once a week over 12 weeks from 18/06/2018 to 3/09/2018. We did this with the help of a group of local volunteers that had been referred to us from North Kent Mind (they were in recovery from mental health issues and had come to us to benefit from therapeutic greenspace volunteering). Litter was sorted into categories: Paper/Cardboard, Glass, Metal, Domestic, Industrial, Fast Food and Confectionary.

Meanwhile in late June and early July we delivered a school assembly to local primary schools, which dealt with what happens to litter after it has been dropped in the street; the effect it can have on our rivers and oceans, and what we should be doing with our litter.

Following each assembly, the schools were invited to produce posters telling people not to drop their litter, that could be displayed in Dartford. Posters were to be displayed in Dartford library, community centres and local shops.

We continued to monitor litter levels at the outfall pipe until early September, to see whether the assemblies and posters had had an effect.

This was a small-scale project with no risk attached, but which had the potential to make a difference to Dartford.

 

 

What was innovative about this project?
This was an innovative project because a) people really don’t seem to know what happens to litter when they drop it – we have addressed that;  and b) we are trying to build an evidence base to prove the impact of urban litter on water bodies, and to strengthen the case for retrofitting existing surface water drains.

 

We have looked at other similar projects: Southern Water’s “The Unflushables” project dealt with litter from domestic toilets that causes sewer blockages; Thames 21 ran a community drain marking campaign in Enfield in the summer of 2015 to highlight the issue of surface water pollution; Groundwork’s “Yellow Fish” project in Essex worked with local businesses and schools also to raise awareness surface water pollution.  These are all great projects, but their focus was slightly different and they were not tackling the issue of urban litter ending up in water bodies due to lack of awareness. We were similarly be engaging with the local community but focussing on educating them about what happens to the litter they drop in the street

 

What did you do?

·         How did you implement your project in reality? Please describe what happened during your project.

·         Did anything change from your original plan, and if so, why? Did you encounter any problems or unexpected issues that might have affected your results?

·         How did people react during the project?

To enable others to replicate your project, please include images of any key signage, posters, graphics etc. that you used, as well as photographs, maps or other essential information to show how interventions were deployed. Documents can be provided as appendices if appropriate. The  information you provide should not be subject to copyright and should be able to be shared freely

 

 

The project was implemented exactly as described above.

One small change was that we were unable to get the 4 schools we had hoped for engaged. We managed to deliver 3 school assemblies and instead engaged with a local Cub Scout group to make up the difference.

The reaction from children and teachers/ leaders was consistently positive; teachers commented on how much their pupils seemed to have taken the message to heart.

The big problem we had was lack of rainfall. For a project designed to monitor litter washed down an outfall pipe by rainfall, this was catastrophic.  Our litter results make it look as though the campaign had a startling effect on people, making them cease dropping litter in the town centre. In reality the drop in litter must have been due to the lack of rainfall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you monitor your intervention?

Indicators:

·         What indicators did you set out to monitor, in order to help understand if your project achieved its intended outcomes and aims?

·         Were you able to establish a baseline, i.e. by collecting information on the original state of your indicators, before your intervention began?

·         What were your intended indicators of success?

We set out to achieve the following outcomes:

 

Outcome 1: A 30% drop in litter levels at the Ecology Island outfall pipe at the end of the project compared with at the beginning.

 

Outcome 2: The health of the River Darent will have been improved through removal of litter during this six month period. This will be measured through counting and sorting; it should also be improved in the long term through lower levels of litter being dropped in the town centre although this is not measurable within the scope of this project.

Outcome 3: In 6 months, at least 1440 children will have been engaged with the project through school assemblies and poster competition. This will be measured through counting the number of pupils engaged with.

 

Outcome 4: In 6 months, at least 10 community volunteers will have participated in monitoring and sorting litter at the outfall pipe. Volunteer numbers will be counted across the project.

 

Outcome 5: The project will influence the short-and long-term health of the River Darent (and by extension marine health around the Thames Estuary and beyond) as well as the immediate environment of Dartford Town Centre. This is not measurable within the scope of this project but a reasonable assumption if the above measurable outcomes are achieved.

 

Other influences and understanding causality

·         What, if any, data/information did you record on external factors that may have influenced your data?

·         How did you attempt to mitigate against them?

 

If I could go back and do the project again, I could carry it out over a much longer time period, and monitor the precipitation levels alongside litter levels. This was only done anecdotally over the project period (it was incredibly dry!) and it would have been a good idea to measure it properly so as to make a stronger connection between weather and litter levels. Sadly this was not identified as a risk factor at the start of the project.

There were no major rainfalls at all during the project period, which could have influenced the data.

 

METHODS: Data sources and collection

·         How did you source or collect the data/information to measure the indicators above?

·         For each data source, set out at what points during the project you collected data (and why), and at what locations. Include information on the data you collected  before your project began.

·         How did you make sure data collection was consistent?

Litter was collected and put into categories on the River Darent at Dartford, TQ 544 739.

This was carried out by local volunteers once a week on a Monday morning.

It was always collected from the same area around a particular surface water outfall pipe.

 

OUTCOME: Results and Data Analysis

Please record all the information derived from the project, using appendices if appropriate. As set out in the Monitoring and Evaluation Guidance, please include any assumptions made or qualifications needed.

 

Please find below the amounts and categories of litter over the 12-week period.

 

  Paper/ Cardboard Glass Metal Domestic Industrial Fast Food Confectionary Total items of non-recyclable waste
Week 1 0 0 0 8 0 5 10 23
Week 2 0 0 0 6 1 3 6 16
Week 3 0 0 0 5 0 1 4 10
Week 4 0 0 0 3 0 0 2 5
Week 5 0 0 0 5 0 0 2 7
Week 6 0 0 0 3 0 0 3 6
Week 7 0 0 0 3 0 1 7 11
Week 8 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 4
Week 9 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 4
Week 10 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 5
Week 11 0 0 0 3 0 1 1 5
Week 12 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The data set shows that litter entering the Darent at this outfall pipe is overwhelmingly domestic, fast food and confectionary and therefore likely to be entering the pipe from street level (as opposed to via toilets or from industry).

There was a general fall in litter levels over the project period, but we cannot know whether this was due to the campaign or drought conditions.

 

 

Impacts and Evaluation – What did you learn?

·         What were the outcomes against your indicators, and were they as expected?  Please provide details of immediate, intermediate and long term impacts. Can you demonstrate that the outcomes would have been different if intervention had not taken place? Did any negative consequences arise?  Which interventions, or aspects of your intervention, were particularly effective, and why?

·         If outcomes/impacts were not as expected, it’s useful to know why. Did you identify what factor(s) contributed to the project not working as intended?

 

Outcome 1: A 30% drop in litter levels at the Ecology Island outfall pipe at the end of the project compared with at the beginning.

This outcome was more than achieved, but as noted above, we suspect the lack of rainfall influenced this result to a large extent. Litter was counted and categorised weekly. The first week showed a a higher number due to a build up of litter, and the second and third weeks of monitoring took place before the assemblies and posters had been finished. In hindsight it would have been a good idea to monitor weekly “normal” levels of littering for a few more weeks before the education campaign took place, so as to have a better baseline of data. Within the scope of this proejct we have no way of knowing whether this was a long- ot short-term change.

 

Outcome 2: The health of the River Darent will have been improved through removal of litter during this period. This will be measured through counting and sorting; it should also be improved in the long term through lower levels of litter being dropped in the town centre although this is not measurable within the scope of this project.

We have counted and classified all of the litter that was removed from the river during the project. These activities also resulted in the volunteers doing wider litter picks in the river. Although not measurable, this outcome has definitely been achieved to some degree.

 

Outcome 3: In 6 months, at least 1440 children will have been engaged with the project through school assemblies and poster competition. This will be measured through counting the number of pupils engaged with.

1260 children were engaged with. The small difference is due to us having had to work with three schools and a Cub Scout group instead of the four schools we had intended. Due to project delays we were also obliged to condense the project into three months instead of six.

 

Outcome 4: In 6 months, at least 10 community volunteers will have participated in monitoring and sorting litter at the outfall pipe. Volunteer numbers will be counted across the project.

12 volunteers participated. They have remained with NWKCP to continue volunteering on the Darent.

 

Outcome 5: The project will influence the short-and long-term health of the River Darent (and by extension marine health around the Thames Estuary and beyond) as well as the immediate environment of Dartford Town Centre. This is not measurable within the scope of this project but a reasonable assumption if the above measurable outcomes are achieved.

I am unsure whether this has been achieved. Litter levels undoubtable dropped during the period of the project, but it is impossible to tell how far the weather caused this. Further monitoring would be required.

 

 

What would you do differently?

·         What, if anything, would you do differently if you ran a similar project again?

·         If outcomes/impacts were not as expected, do you think the factor(s) you identified as contributing to the project not working as intended could be overcome were the project repeated, and if so, how?

·         What advice would you give to anyone else running this type of intervention?

 

As I have said above, if I could go back and do the project again, I could carry it out over a much longer time period, and monitor the precipitation levels alongside litter levels. This was only done anecdotally over the project period (it was incredibly dry!) and it would have been a good idea to measure it properly so as to make a stronger connection between weather and litter levels. Sadly this was not identified as a risk factor at the start of the project.

There were no major rainfalls at all during the project period, which could have influenced the data.

 

I would advise anyone running a similar project to do so over a longer period of time (a year would be idea, taking in all four seasons) and to note weather conditions and precipitation levels alongside litter levels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did it cost

Please provide details of your full project costs and contributions in kind (regardless of source), to enable others to understand the funding required to replicate your intervention. This could also include resource cost. Remember to include the costs of monitoring and evaluation. Be specific.

 

ITEM REF DESCRIPTION QUANTITY TOTAL VALUE GRANT CONTRIBUTION MATCH-FUNDED VALUE How are you match funding
1 NWKCP staff time to cover 2 hour litter picking and sorting sessions every week over 3 months @ £35 per hour 24 £840 £840 £0 n/a – to be fully funded by grant
2 24 hours volunteer time @ £7.50 (min wage) 10 Volunteers £1,800 £0 £1,800 Volunteer time (In-Kind)
3 NWKCP staff time to prepare school assembly @ £260 per day 1 £260 £260 £0 n/a – to be fully funded by grant
4 NWKCP staff time to deliver 4 assemblies @ £35 per hour 4 £140 £140 £0 n/a – to be fully funded by grant
5 NWKCP time to engage with local schools and involve them in the campaign @ £260 per day 1 £260 £260 £0 n/a – to be fully funded by grant
6 NWKCP staff time to administer and judge poster competition @ £260 per day 1 £260 £260 £0 n/a – to be fully funded by grant
7 Printing and lamination costs for posters 30 £100 £100 £0 n/a – to be fully funded by grant
8 NWKCP time to put up posters in Dartford town centre @ £260 per day 1 £260 £260 £0 n/a – to be fully funded by grant
9 NWKCP staff time to prepare data report @ £260 per day 1 £260 £260 £0 n/a – to be fully funded by grant
10            
TOTALS: £4,180 £2,380 £1,800
As a %: 100% 57% 43%
 

Next Steps

Based on what you have learned:

·         How are you planning to build on the activity yourselves?

·         If the project was successful, how could/should this intervention be replicated and/or scaled up by you or others?

·          If the project was not successful, how might it be changed to potentially deliver better results?

·         What further research or refinement is needed?

 

 

We are continuing to work with one of the schools that was involved in this project, studying further aspects of environmental education.

 

The volunteers that helped us monitor the litter have stayed with us and are currently carrying out river clean-ups in the same area with us, every week. We continue to seek funding for this to keep it going on a long-term basis.

 

We will deliver the assembly wherever the opportunity arises, to as many schools as possible.

 

I think this project has had the greatest impact on those that were involved – the volunteers and children.

 

The success of the project in terms of litter prevention is still up for being proved, but I think that with a longer project period and more detailed study that this could be a viable intervention.

 

Is there any other information you wish to share ?

e.g. Any media regarding the project, correspondence with those affected by intervention, or anything else of relevance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feedback to us

Your feedback is important to us. We would be grateful for any comments on (or recommendations for future) Litter Innovation Fund management and materials:

I really appreciated having Pam Golding as a single point of contact for this fund. Many similar funds can feel faceless and difficult to get hold of. It was great to have one person to ask questions and deal with. Correspondence was always prompt and helpful.

 

Reporting forms were not over-onerous and seemed to ask for a relevant amount of information.

 

 

 

 

 

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