Volunteers fish bags of rubbish from town river

Clare Higson, Sean Ready and Clare Miller-Jones from the Thetford River Group after a litter pick.

Clare Higson, Sean Ready and Clare Miller-Jones from the Thetford River Group after a litter pick. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

A community of eco-warriors has been fishing out litter from in and around a town’s river.

Thetford Conservation Group and the Thetford River Group were out in force on Wednesday, April 28, as part of efforts to collect and record vital data on plastic waste. 

Thetford Conservation Group out litter picking as part of the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project. 

Thetford Conservation Group out litter picking as part of the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

The groups were invited to take part by The Rivers Trust, which is coordinating the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project and focusing efforts on the Great Ouse and River Thet in Norfolk. 

The PPP is an EU Interreg funded project working across eight river catchments, including five in England and three in Northern France, to determine how different types of plastic reach the ocean through river systems. 

Clare Whitelegg, project coordinator in Norfolk, said: “The most obvious impact is the one we see in the media with pictures of wildlife becoming entangled in plastic pollution or ingesting it and swallowing it which actually has severe impacts from internal injuries to death.  

Clare Whitelegg is project coordinator for The Rivers Trust in Norfolk.

Clare Whitelegg is project coordinator for The Rivers Trust in Norfolk. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson


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“If the amount of plastic pollution we are seeing in the marine environment continues to grow it is projected to continue to rise exponentially those impacts on our wildlife is going to be enormous. 

“We have a group working on land to pick up litter and a group who are working canoes picking litter out of the river. It’s really great they have come together to tackle litter in two different directions to protect the River Thet.” 

Clare Higson and Sean Ready from the Thetford River Group. 

Clare Higson and Sean Ready from the Thetford River Group. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

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Sean Ready, founder of Thetford River Group, and volunteer Clare Higson - supported by River Care - said 50pc of their regular litter picks in the river were plastics and the most common offender was single-use plastic bottles. 

Ms Higson added: “None of this is going to make it to the sea because we have managed to clean it before hand and we are particularly looking at the large amount of single-use plastic bottles.  

“That is the most of what we have picked up and you can see how quickly the plastic degrades.  

“The more we can take out this end the better it is further down.” 

Plastic waste collected by the Thetford River Group.

Plastic waste collected by the Thetford River Group. They are collecting data for the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

To get involved with the project contact Ms Whitelegg via email, clare.whitelegg@theriverstrust.org, or visit the Preventing Plastic Pollution website here, https://preventingplasticpollution.com/about-the-project/.

A volunteer litter picker with Thetford Conservation Group.

A volunteer litter picker with Thetford Conservation Group. Collecting data for the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project on the Little Ouse and River Thet. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Clare Higson, Sean Ready and Clare Miller-Jones from the Thetford River Group after a litter pick.

Clare Higson, Sean Ready and Clare Miller-Jones from the Thetford River Group after a litter pick. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson


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