North Ayrshire’s streets are the third worst for litter in the country, according to a shock study by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

The annual survey of litter strewn areas across the country found 15.4 per cent of North Ayrshire’s streets were “unacceptably dirty”.

That’s a rise from just 3.7 per cent back in 2011. And it means North Ayrshire is just ahead of Glasgow (15.8 per cent) and Inverclyde (16.1 per cent) in Scotland’s filthy streets rankings.

However, Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) said it did not seek to name and shame local authorities which struggled with rubbish on their streets, saying the entire country is facing a “litter emergency” .

Figures showed 12.5 per cent of South Ayrshire’s streets were found to be unacceptably dirty, compared with just 3.2 per cent back in 2011.

And in East Ayrshire, the figures stood at 11.6 per cent, compared with 6.3 per cent in 2011.

The study showed that areas of deprivation were the worst hit by the litter problem.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: "We historically maintained a very positive Local Environment Audit and Management System (LEAMS) score pre-Covid, and in 2020-21 our score was 91.34 per cent.

“During the pandemic, our coastal locations became a very big attraction for visitors and with footfall comes an increase in littering.

“The visitor numbers helped us to identify ways to improve our service delivery, and we have been working tirelessly to introduce a fresh new approach to dealing with litter on our streets.

“Over the last year, we have introduced a range of larger capacity street bins, which are also rodent and gull proof; increased enforcement patrols in areas identified as being problematic for littering offences and worked closely in partnership with our volunteer network.

“We are also planning to pilot a revised street-cleaning schedule that will prioritise the areas most in need.

“As a result of these proactive strategies, our scores have moved in a positive direction, with the most recent audit returning a score of 90.1 per cent - an increase of 5.5 per cent since our last score.

“We encourage members of the public to be responsible with litter disposal and to report any environmental offence to our dedicated enforcement team for consideration.”

A spokesperson for Irvine Clean Up Crew, which carries out its own clear ups of streets, the beach and waterways, said: "We believe that litter is everybody’s responsibility.

"Our volunteers choose to take positive action against litter by working collaboratively with North Ayrshire Council to try and keep Irvine’s streets, greenspaces, and beach clean and tidy.

"Irvine Clean Up Crew volunteers are proud of where they live and want to make sure Irvine is a tidy place to live for everybody. We all can do something to help combat the litter emergency by making sure we put our rubbish in the right bin and not leaving it behind when out and about.

"If you want to take more action, why not come along to one of our community litter picks and join us on our Litter Free Irvine campaign. We have two community litter picks for the rest of October. All of the details are on our Facebook page @irvinebeach."

For decades, KSB has been carrying out its gold-standard comprehensive monitoring, called Local Environmental Audit and Management Systems or LEAMS, on behalf of councils .

Inspectors count rubbish, everything from cigarette butts, crisp packets and tin cans to fly-tipped mattresses and fridges.

Barry Fisher, KSB’s chief executive, explained: “There is a litter emergency in Scotland. And our charity’s evidence shows that litter levels are worse in high density urban areas where lots of people live, work and visit.

“We can see that litter levels correlate with our own actions - our unsustainable consumption of stuff, our patterns of behaviour where we live, shop and visit, and the choices we make when we dispose of items.”

He stressed the KSB survey was intended to support councils, to identify where problems are worst.

Members of the public can report issues relating to bins, litter, fly-tipping and recycling via the North Ayrshire Council website at or by calling 01294 310000.