"Heavy duty response" called for as ramblers react in horror to plastic pollution along banks of the River Ribble

Pollution on an "industrial scale" is blighting one of Lancashire's most popular walking routes, according to ramblers.

By Catherine Musgrove
Saturday, 15th January 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 2:31 pm

Visitors to the Ribble Way on Longton Marshes have reported their shock at finding hundreds, if not thousands of pieces of plastic littering the embankment of the River Ribble at high tide - and have even come across a decomposing sheep.

Many items seen by the Post were plastic bottles, buckets, plant pots and even tyres.

>>>Mum finds waste from 20 years ago among "tidal wave" of litter beside the River Ribble.

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Litter strewn across the embankment area

To compound the problem, there is confusion between agencies and authorities over who is responsible for any clean-up operation, as it appears that the waste has been desposited by the river during high tide.

One walker said: "This is a problem along the entire high tide line along the embankment on Longton Marsh when accessed from the end of Marsh Lane, which is the start of the Ribble Way. The main problem is along the embankment towards Hutton and this is where I saw the dead sheep which is decomposing.

"This is a substantial problem and requires a heavy duty response in terms of vehicles and manpower to remove the amount of plastic rubbish alone. This will take several wagon loads to make any difference. This is not just a littering problem it is rubbish on an industrial scale deposited by the high tides."

The man contacted South Ribble Borough Council over the issue, but in correspondence seen by the Post, was told: "Due to this being an environmental issue on private land it would be the responsibility of the Environment Agency to investigate and take appropriate action contacting the relevant land owners."

Most of the pieces of litter are plastic

However, the Environment Agency said that as it was not a case of illegal dumping of waste, the issue was not in their jurisdiction, and it had not been reported to them.

They advised contacting the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency), but nobody was available when the Post made contact.

Ribble Rivers Trust

The Ribble Rivers Trust regularly carry out litter picks along the River Ribble, and local people are taking part in the Surfers for Sewage 'Million Miles Clean' campaign.

Confusion reigns over who is responsible for a clean-up

Last summer, thirteen volunteers came out to help Nicola Bennett after she posted on Facebook after her enjoyment of the 80-mile Lancashire Way was marred by the litter she saw on the river banks.

Together they set off from Howick Cross Lane, Penwortham, and walked around a mile before they reached the clean-up. In two hours, the group had collected aroung 100kg of waste- mainly plastic.

More information about the campaign and how to join can be found here: https://www.sas.org.uk/news/100000-volunteers-x-10-miles-for-the-million-mile-clean/

Helen Smith from the RRT said: "As a Trust, we do lots of work to tackle litter and waste getting into watercourses. We work across the Ribble, Calder, Hodder and Darwen and are part of the Douglas Partnership with a number of other organisations.

"We do lots of education and engagement work, so go into schools and bring pupils out to riverside locations and this often includes litter picks and discussing the problems of litter finding its way into rivers. We also work with our volunteers, work parties and other groups such as the Rotary and Friends groups to conduct litter picks across the catchment.

"In the location you’re talking about specifically, the litter is probably finding its way from the Douglas, as it’s right near the confluence with the Ribble."

She added: "We feel that educating people is one of the best ways to tackle the problem of litter. We work closely with schools to get pupils invested in the health of their local rivers. The hope is, that as well as the pupils valuing the environment, they will also take the message home to their family members. We also attend a number of shows and events throughout the year and deliver evening talks, which help to spread awareness of improving the health of rivers."

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