What’s at the bottom of the canal?

AT AN annual cost of £1 million to clean up after litter-happy Britons – from blow up dolls to shopping trolleys – the Canal & River Trust is saying enough is enough.

This winter the Trust has uncovered some very unusual items from the bottom of its canals and rivers, from an adult blow-up doll and golf buggies, to a pogo stick, a pair of walkie talkies and a garden fork.  Empty safes, motorbikes, countless shopping trolleys, tyres and mobile phones were also part of the winter haul and the charity removes thousands of cans, bottles, wrappers and plastic bags every year.

In a recent survey, commissioned by the Canal & River Trust, 96% of people said that they didn’t think it was acceptable to drop litter, but 66% still admitted to doing it.  Most of the discarded rubbish on the waterways sinks to the bottom of the canal or river bed, causing an invisible hazard to the environment and boats. Tyres and other rubbish contain pollutants which leak into the water and poison fish and other wildlife. Often rubbish acts as a choking hazard and wildlife can become trapped in it.

When asked, 80% of people said that they were concerned about the amount of litter in their local area and the issue could leave a dirty legacy for generations to come.  Every year thousands of plastic bags (which take up to 20 years to break down) and drink cans (which can take up to 200 years) are thrown into the waterways.

Peter Birch, National Environment Manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Rubbish being thrown into our canals and rivers is a problem that is not going away.  We are asking members of the public to join the fight against litter. We should be protecting these special places not damaging them. Our excellent army of volunteers help us to clear rubbish but the funds that we have to allocate to it could be better spent.”

Anyone interested in supporting the work of the Canal & River Trust should visit the website for more information www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

Join a regular towpath taskforce to make a difference to your local canal. For more information visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/towpath-taskforce

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