Surrey dog poo bag trees divide opinion over clearing up mess in countryside

A so-called dog poo tree in Surrey Credit: BPM Media

A scheme designed to stop dog poo bags being left in the countryside has divided opinion.

Surrey County Council has been trialling so-called poo bag trees across the county with dog walkers able to place bags full of their pooch's faeces on branches which they can collect on their way back.

But a picture of a post in Norbury Park on the private Facebook group has led to an outcry from some residents who were revolted by the new idea.

Councillor Caroline Salmon, responsible for community services at the Mole Valley District Council, was also not a fan.

She said she opposed the posts if they were replacing bins and called on people to take their rubbish home with them.

Cllr Salmon added: “As far as I’m aware there are bins where people can put dog poo bags in and to have some sort of hanging basket thing seems a bit strange.

“Ideally everyone should take all their rubbish home, that’s the perfect solution. I’m not surprised I haven’t been consulted, they don’t normally consult do they? I’m surprised that Surrey [County Council ] thinks it's a good idea to do that.”

A bag hangs from one of the special trees in Surrey Credit: BPM Media

But opinion appears split with dog walkers agreeing that the scheme was a good idea. One professional walker, who covers Fetcham, Bookham, Ashtead and Cobham, said it would reduce the amount of rubbish being left by walkers.

“I tend to use bins but there aren’t enough of those around,” the walker, who preferred to stay anonymous, said. “Obviously in the more remote areas people don’t want to carry their poo to the next poo bin. If there were these posts that would be fantastic.”

Explaining the thinking behind the idea, a county council spokesperson said the trial had been ongoing over the past year. They said the so-called "trees" had led to a large reduction of bagged dog waste being left behind and said they were “pleased” with the progress made.

The spokesperson said: “There is a big problem with dog waste at many countryside sites and many SCC [Surrey County Council] sites have very high numbers of dog walkers and waste/bags left on site, in all sorts of locations.

“Many dog walkers bag the waste and then leave it somewhere to collect on their return, only to forget it (and it can then be found hanging in bushes/trees etc). Hanging the bag on our ‘tree’ reduces this issue. The trees are positioned carefully at the sort of distance from the car parks where the owners pick up/bag the waste, so they don’t have to carry it with them.

“The explanatory sign asks them to take their waste home with them and not just leave it on the tree for others/SCC to collect. This is a message now being used commonly/ nationally to encourage people to take responsibility for the waste (including dog waste) they bring to site, and not to expect the local authority/others to clean up after them.”

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