FINAL STRAW: Plastic pollution of our rivers is revealed

It's time to put an end to our filthy rivers.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 2nd April 2018, 7:00 am

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Is plastic pollution in the water the final straw?

That is the Post’s message to residents, businesses, politicians and community groups after being alerted to the waste that can be found on our own riverbanks.

These pictures show the pollution on the River Ribble’s banks in Preston.

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The snaps, taken from behind Preston Sea Cadets in Strand Road, reveal abandoned wheelbarrows, tyres, scrap metal, plastic bottles, containers and tubs, and confectionery wrappers scattered throughout the banks.

Speaking about the find, local David Billington said: “No wonder there is plastic in our drinking water. There’s rubbish everywhere on the banks; it’s been like this for more than five years now.

“I walk down there every day of the week, I see otters and wildlife – I feel sorry for the wildlife.”

David even spoke of how he witnessed a member of the public fly tip a bed into the riverbanks, labelling it “absolutely horrendous”.

Rubbish and plastic pollution along the River Ribble behind the Preston Sea Cadets base in Strand Road.

In March, the Post launched its Final Straw campaign to urge as many people as possible to ditch as much plastic as possible for the sake of protecting our environment.

It was revealed that 90 per cent of bottled water – like tap water – could be contaminated with millions of plastic micro-particles, resulting in politicians from across Lancashire saying that enough is enough.

The section of the River Ribble behind the sea cadets is controlled by the Environment Agency.

A spokesman from Cumbria and Lancashire EA said: “Waste crime is a serious offence which can damage the environment and blight local communities. The Environment Agency takes this issue very seriously.

Rubbish and plastic pollution along the River Ribble behind the Preston Sea Cadets base in Strand Road.

“We encourage anyone who sees waste being dumped, pollution occurring or its impact to call our 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 6060 or call Crime Stoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.”

“It’s not the Environment Agency’s fault,” David said, “but it should all be taken away. It’s a beautiful river.”

‘Deposit return scheme’ for plastic bottles

Consumers could face paying a deposit on drinks bottles and cans which is repaid when they hand them in for recycling under new Government plans to tackle plastic waste.

Rubbish and plastic pollution along the River Ribble behind the Preston Sea Cadets base in Strand Road.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed ministers would introduce a deposit return scheme for single use drinks containers such as plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans in England, subject to consultation.

The move aims to boost recycling rates and cut litter, and comes amid increasing concern over the issue of single use plastic waste, much of which ends up as rubbish polluting the countryside and oceans.

Mr Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment - killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats.

“It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.”

UK consumers use an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, with more than three billion incinerated, sent to landfill or ending up as litter.

Preston to go plastic-free

Coun Christine Abram

Preston Council is set to vote on limiting the use of plastic products, including single use, across the city.

Coun Christine Abram is proposing a motion to support the Plastic Free Coastlines campaign initiated locally by Surfers Against Sewage, working with members of the community including the Ribble Rivers Trust and Friends of the Earth.

The motion has already received cross-party support with Labour Coun John Swindells set to second the motion.

Coun Abram explained that she had written a notice of motion and Labour had done the same, so they combined aspects of both to put this joint one forward.

“There should be cross-party support on issues like this - in fact there should be more on other things too,” said Coun Abram. “There is far too much single use plastic in use today. We are trying to ask the council not to use any plastic cups etc at any functions. And we also want the council to encourage other people not to use it. I think we have got to look to the future. I am a grandmother and I am concerned what sort of world it will be for the little ones.

“I am also a school governor [at St Mary’s Primary in Lea Town] and the children there are doing a project on plastics this week. I am hoping they will give me some feedback to take back to the council. It is important we consider how the little ones, from five to 10, see it.”

Coun Swindells said: “It’s something I have been talking about for some time. Why do we drink out of plastic cups and use plastic stirrers? I think it’s the ease of using them but it’s now great to see the likes of Blue Planet changing opinion.”

If passed – which seems likely – it would see Preston Council follow in South Ribble Council’s footsteps.

Last month South Ribble voted to scrap single use plastics across its services and to encourage business and organisations to follow suit going forward.

Milk bottle revival north of the city

More people should turn to traditional ways of getting their milk in order to combat plastic waste and protect our environment, says one Garstang milklady.

Susan White, from Cabus, is a milklady along with milkman husband Trevor, delivering milk onto the doorsteps and restaurants of the greater Garstang area.

The husband and wife duo, along with staff at Shepherd’s Farm in Catterall from where they purchase their milk, want to increase the use of traditional glass milk bottles due to their reusability after being rinsed and returned to the farm in Garstang Road.

Susan said: “We want to provide a safe environment for the next generation and with marine plastic debris to reach approximately 250 million tonnes by 2025, we must all think about how to overcome this significant problem.”

Susan added: “Plastic is a useful material, however some plastics have low recycling rates and therefore we want to promote Bring Back Doorstep Delivery’ which would evidently reduce the amount of plastic being used on a daily basis.

“We milkmen ask for your help in our mission to ensure the environment is a safer place for marine life in particular as well as helping landfill areas.

“We feel if the public became more aware of plastic usage then the next generation would greatly benefit from waste which cannot be recycled.”

Green light for butty van

A Leyland butty van could be the greenest in Lancashire. Owner Col Maloney has not only got rid of plastic and polystyrene cups – but he’s given his van a complete green overhaul.

Col, whose van can be seen next to the tank roundabout at the junction at Flensburg Way and Penwortham Way, Farington, claims he’s a county eco champ.

The van is back in business again after being gutted in a fire at the end of last year.

He explained: “Since the rebuild it gave me the perfect opportunity to turn the van green.

“So I’ve done away with the generator, that noisy petrol thing, that’s gone. I now have a huge battery system which is powered by solar. It goes through another which gives me 230 vaults. The sun powers that and I plug it into the wall once a week.”

Col has also replaced his plastic and polystyrene cups with “real decent ceramic mugs”. He said: “It’s fantastic, people are queueing up to provide me with the jugs and making sure I can achieve my green goal. I want to be the only green catering van in Lancashire.”

Other green improvements he has carried out include LED strip lights and Triple A rates fridges and freezers.

He added: “In the long run it will save me quite a few bob as well. I paid £15 a week in petrol to keep the generator going, times that by 50 and it’s nearly £650 a year.”

Milklady Susan White, from Cabus
Col Maloney has given his van a green overhaul
Rubbish and plastic pollution along the River Ribble behind the Preston Sea Cadets base in Strand Road.
Rubbish and plastic pollution along the River Ribble behind the Preston Sea Cadets base in Strand Road.
Rubbish and plastic pollution along the River Ribble behind the Preston Sea Cadets base in Strand Road.
Coun Christine Abram
Milklady Susan White, from Cabus
Col Maloney has given his van a green overhaul