A farmer has hit out at organisers of a popular North East cycle race after he found litter strewn across his land following the event.
Tim Stafford, who lives on a farm at Hartburn, in Northumberland, says he had to clear a half-mile stretch of land belonging to him the morning after the Virgin Money Cyclone bike race which took place over the weekend.
Staged over four days from June 18-22, the Virgin Money Cyclone takes in some of the most picturesque parts of the Northumberland countryside offering rides for amateurs and professionals at all levels.
But Mr Stafford, who is now retired from farming, says he was “disgusted” when he was left with a clear-up operation after a section of the race rode along a stretch of road past his fields on Sunday.
“There were empty energy drink bottles and sachets of liquid that had been chucked on to the side of the road and into my fields,” he said. “I was watching the news that evening and the event organiser said it had been a wonderful event in the beautiful Northumbrian countryside.
“It most certainly was beautiful until they got here.
“I’m not against the race and what it stands for. I think it’s important that people get out and get active in the countryside.
“But I do think people who are riding in the area should be more respectful. They wouldn’t like it if I chucked litter into their front gardens so why should I be okay with it?
“The race is disruptive as it is. Farmers around here can’t get anything done whilst the race is on and this is the busiest time for a lot of farmers, especially when the weather is good.”
A spokeswoman for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said competitors and spectators at these events must be respectful of people who live in the surrounding area.
She said: “We encourage anybody who organises these sorts of events, where a large number of people will be coming to the countryside, to think about how they get the countryside message across.
“People need to be urged to respect the environment that they are coming to. It shouldn’t be left to the farmer or landowner to clear up any mess left behind following an event of this scale. It simply isn’t fair.
Peter Harrison, founder and organiser of Virgin Money Cyclone, said: “We’re sorry to hear that there has been a report of litter to follow the event and apologise for any inconvenience caused. We take every measure to ensure event feed stations are cleared and encourage all riders and spectators to respect the surrounding countryside. This is clearly communicated in all event material.”