A GREEN campaigner in Saddleworth is appealing for public water fountains to be installed in the borough to combat plastic pollution, writes Kent Lawlor.

Brian Banawich, who lives in Greenfield, contacted Oldham Council and water supplier United Utilities about the possibility of a drinking fountain being fitted near Dovestone reservoir where plastic pollution is very high.

He would also like to see a drinking fountain installed in Oldham town centre too.

Mr Banawich said: “We need to encourage people to refill water bottles rather than continually buy them.

"The more plastic we produce, the more plastic that will end up as litter.

"It's absolutely vital we reduce our plastic consumption in this country."

According to Refill, a nationwide scheme tackling single-use plastic, roughly 35m plastic bottles are used in the UK every day, with about 16m not being recycled.

London is set to introduce 1,000 new drinking fountains to try and cut down on plastic pollution and Mr Banawich says Oldham needs to consider doing the same if it is serious about the environment.

His plea comes after he and other campaigners continue to pick up litter from Dovestone.

He said that when he and other campaigners collect rubbish from the reservoir, they usually collect two to three bin bags of waste, which is mostly plastic bottles.

Picnics and barbecues are common during the summer, meaning there is an increase in waste left behind.

Although water fountains may seem like a place where coronavirus could be transmitted, Mr Banawich explained there would not be a big risk of the virus spreading from fountains.

In a joint statement, United Utilities and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which both manage Dovestone, said: “There are currently no plans for a water fountain at the reservoir.

"While social distancing rules have been relaxed, the safety and hygiene of communal water fountains could not be guaranteed. Visitors can bring drinks with them to Dovestone or purchase them on-site, but we would like to remind any visitors to responsibly dispose of any litter in a bin or take it home with them and recycle it when they can.”

The council has also voiced its opinion about the prospect of water fountains being installed in the borough.

Cllr Abdul Jabbar MBE, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and low carbon at the council, said: “We encourage all of our residents to dispose of their waste correctly by recycling their household items, including plastic bottles.

“While we understand the merits public water fountains can have in further reducing plastic pollution, residents can already refill their water bottles for free at multiple locations across the borough.

“These locations can be found by downloading the Refill app on their devices.

“Oldham Council already encourages all of its staff to use refillable water bottles and over recent years we have also cut our usage of single use plastics as part of our aim to become the greenest borough in Greater Manchester.”

For more information on how to download the Refill App, visit https://www.refill.org.uk/