Letter: Straw was right

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I live in a part of west Oxfordshire noted for its network of ancient green lanes. A few years ago, while botanising along one of these "mereways", I came upon a group of travellers encamped with caravans, vehicles and dogs.

Seeing their rubbish piled on the verges and beneath and on the hedges, I asked if they were aware that three miles away there was an excellent waste disposal site they might consider using. Annoyed at my "interference", the woman I spoke to told me to "piss off".

On a distant section of the same green lane is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which I have monitored for English Nature for more than 10 years. There, this year - not for the first time - I encountered a similar group of travellers.

When a young man stepped from his caravan, I asked if he would be good enough to keep his three dogs off the SSSI. Noticing that scrap metal was piled on cowslips and other wild flowers cherished by all who walk the green lanes, I asked if this could be removed to the same waste disposal site. His response was to fetch a spade, scoop up a pile of dog's dirt and threaten to throw it in my face.

When these people eventually departed, or were evicted, they left behind two burnt-out caravans that set fire to the adjacent hedge, and six wrecked cars. There were also several tons of unspeakable rubbish, some of which was dumped on the SSSI. It took contractors hired by the district council several days to remove everything.

Jack Straw is right to draw attention to problems caused by this type of traveller.


Charlbury, Oxfordshire