Redcar is lucky enough to have a huge Nature Reserve, Coatham Marshes. You would imagine that it is a haven for wildlife. It is home to various species of ducks, birds of prey, insects and small mammals.
The marsh and it's pools sit on an area of land leased to Tees Valley Wildlife Trust by TATA steel.
The area should be awash with local school children learning about THEIR local environment, but nowadays the area is deserted, but for a few dog walkers and me and my 7 year old son (he has brought his bug book along, he's on a mission to find as many "mini beasts" as possible) the nature reserve is abandoned.
What we find isn't what we expect to see on a nature reserve, I'm not a big nature buff, I don't know what the various species of wildlife would be called - David Attenborough I am not.
I know what a mouse looks like and I know what a duck looks like, Fletcher & I were here to learn together.
After 20 minutes of wandering around, looking through the pools and in the bushes we found some old nests and rabbit burrows but quickly decided to give up and head back to the car in disgust.
Not in disgust at the wildlife, afterall it's still winter and there isn't much around. What we found more than anything else was glass bottles, hundreds of plastic bottles, old plastic milk bottles, soft drinks bottles and drinks cans. And much much more!
So, what we found was more a haven for rats than, field mice, rabbits or foxes. As disappointed as we were though this wasn't the worst of it!
Redcar has the usual litter problems, which can be hugely reduced with a few litter bins and a couple of hours of litter picking, but what we found further along the marshes was fly tipping. And this wasn't the usual mattress or fridge but fly tipping on a commercial scale, local business' ridding themselves of their industrial rubbish.
Because I am a member of Fred, I look at the issues and I look for a solution, I refuse to sit on my hands and moan, I won't whinge and I won't do nothing.
We will team up with Friends of Dormanstown and Zetland Pride, together, we will make the difference.
A meeting has been set up with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust for 23rd February, for them to steer us in a direction, we will not enter the Marshes without guidance from them.
A meeting with Community Payback has already taken place, they will join Fred on March 15th to clear the area, with a view to taking on further reparation works.
1st Choice Skips have expressed that they will be happy to help. We also welcome all volunteers old and new and will ensure this is a media centric event. We expect support from RCBC.
Fred are not interested in pointing to the past and saying this is how its always been. We have been strong on beach litter because it is a big problem and this is our home. To a large part we have got on top of many of the beach problems (yet with still much to do at the Coatham dunes and South Gare and in general terms).
FRED has been involved in a number of clean ups and now will incorporate the Coatham Marshes because it has become rife for fly tipping, needs to be better managed from the access points and as a recognised nature reserve since 1982, has real potential from an educational and environmental perspective.
We WILL make a difference. Will you join us?