Plea to fight litter and plastic pollution in the River Darwen at Walton-le-Dale

Posted on - 1st March, 2021 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Preston News, South Ribble News, Walton-le-Dale, Wildlife and Conservation
River Darwen rubbish Pic: Jonathan Hartley
Rubbish is accumulating on the banks of the River Darwen Pic: Jonathan Hartley

Walton-le-Dale residents are asking for action to be taken after becoming tired of increasing levels of litter and plastic pollution in the River Darwen.


Residents from the Holland House estate have contacted the Ribble Rivers Trust and Environment Agency North West about the issue, which they say has been ongoing for almost a decade.

One resident, Jonathan Hartley, said: “It’s a brilliant place for local people to walk around now that the paths and new fish ladder have been installed.

“While this was created to help the fish thrive and access upstream avoiding the weir, the amount of debris and rubbish in the river and on the banks at the foot of the ladder is now very noticeable.

“There will not be any fish soon what with all the tyres, black bags, bikes, shopping trolleys, crutches, etc. all strewn by and in the river near the weir.

“Local families picnic okay and enjoy the river, yet it’s a shame that the backdrop is becoming like it is. The rubbish that’s accumulating is more visible every month.

“It’s a problem that we’ve not seen get any better for the last eight years.”

River Darwen upstream from the weir and fish ladder Pic: Jonathan Hartley
The River Darwen upstream from the weir and fish ladder – free from rubbish Pic: Jonathan Hartley

Ribble Rivers Trust is a local environmental charity that aims to protect and restore the rivers, streams and watercourses within the Ribble catchment, and to raise public awareness of the value of our local rivers and streams.

Read more: Grimsargh Wetlands Trust receives £1,250 donation

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “People may be familiar with litter and plastic pollution in our oceans. It is also a huge problem in our rivers.

“We have been working to improve the River Darwen and its catchment since 2012, and litter has been an ongoing problem.

“Covid-19 restrictions have made things difficult over the last 12 months, but we were able to carry out several river clean ups on the River Darwen in 2020.

“We are also working with local volunteers, businesses, and the council to repair and restore the Litter Trap at Witton Park, upstream of Walton-le-Dale.”

River Darwen rubbish Pic: Jonathan Hartley
Residents fear the impact the pollution will have on wildlife Pic: Jonathan Hartley

While the Trust has suggested further clean-ups when Covid-19 restrictions allow, Jonathan says the root cause needs to be addressed.

The Trust agrees that prevention and education are key to resolving the problem for good.

River Darwen rubbish Pic: Jonathan Hartley
Ribble Rivers Trust says prevention is “vitally important” Pic: Jonathan Hartley

The spokesperson continued: “Prevention is vitally important in the fight against litter and plastic pollution, and we deliver a range of education and community activities with schools and community groups to ensure people understand the impact of littering on their rivers.

“There are other challenges to tackle, such as man-made structures affecting fish movement and other types of pollution, but there are several organisations working to improve the River Darwen.

“In the long term, we hope that by working together, alongside local people, we can have a cleaner and healthier river for everyone to enjoy.”

Environment Agency North West did not respond to Blog Preston’s request for a comment.

To find out how to get involved in future clean-ups, visit the Ribble Rivers Trust website.

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What do you think of the litter issue in the River Darwen? Let us know in the comments.

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