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Shocking amounts of rubbish dumped in the river Stour in and near Canterbury

By Gerry Warren

It was just one example from a huge amount of rubbish found by wildlife conservationists along the River Stour near Canterbury, including a wheelie bin.

A team and volunteers from the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership has been tackling the river between Fordwich and Grove Ferry and recovered a mass of thoughtlessly discarded waste.

A moorhen is puzzled by an old football in the river near her nest at Broad Oak

A moorhen is puzzled by an old football in the river near her nest at Broad Oak

The group has a mission to keep the river as clean as possible so that wildlife can thrive.

Plastics, in particular, have a devastating effect on marine life. Michael Gove, the environment secretary, announced a crackdown on plastic bottles with plans to reintroduce the glass bottle deposit scheme.

Countryside Partnership manager Jon Shelton says the amount of rubbish they and other volunteer groups in Canterbury clear out is shocking.

 Plastic bottles are a menace to wildlife in the river Stour

Plastic bottles are a menace to wildlife in the river Stour

"I just don’t understand the culture we seem to have in the country with litter, whether it be thrown in our rivers or in our grass verges. It just doesn’t seem to be as bad abroad," he said.

"The plastic rubbish in the river is particularly damaging for fish and birds and it is an ongoing battle to clean it out.

"It’s very depressing to see because it’s so unnecessary but you get a feeling of satisfaction in removing it."

Volunteers removing rubbish from the Stour

Volunteers removing rubbish from the Stour

As well as dozens of plastic bottles and bags, the team removed a wheelie bin, a television, traffic cones and children’s toys.

Other volunteers have also been working in the Westgate Parks, Canterbury, to check the health of the river for invertebrates including mayfly, caddis fly and bullhead.

Their latest efforts were part of World Rivers Day and marked with the launch of a new ‘Our Stour’ project, which will be working with school groups on river education.

Some of the rubbish cleared from the Stour in Canterbury

Some of the rubbish cleared from the Stour in Canterbury

Volunteers will get involved in hands-on conservation, working to improve habitats and look after riverside land as well as training to learn new skills, including film-making and photography.

It is being funded with an £85,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well financial contributions from Kent County Council, Environment Agency, Southern Water, Affinity Water, Ashford Borough Council and Canterbury City Council.

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