Published: 10:00, 05 October 2017
A moorhen sits on its nest in what would be an idyllic riverside scene – if it was not for the discarded football next to it.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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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