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Home Tourist Attraction York tourist attraction closes due to flooding

York tourist attraction closes due to flooding

by Staff

SWNS

Floods leave river festooned with rubbish and looking like a ‘Third World country’

Shocking footage shows how a stretch of river has been left looking ‘like a Third World country’ after it became ‘festooned’ with rubbish in the aftermath of flooding. Huge parts of the River Soar is now strewn with household and industrial waste following widespread flooding caused by Storm Henk in Leicester. Hundreds of thousands of items of litter can be seen washed up along the riverbank and stuck in trees along a stretch spanning more than a mile. One university academic, who researches plastic pollution in the environment, revealed she had never seen anything like it in the UK before. Professor Sarah Gabbott, of the University of Leicester, said the scenes even reminded her of parts of Africa she had visited as part of her research. She has now warned people who have been fly-tipping and dropping litter in the area that their actions are having a ‘devastating’ impact and killing wildlife. She said: “I have never seen anything like this in the UK before. “These scenes would not be out of place in some of the developing countries I have visited as part of my research such as Africa. “I have been to Nairobi, in Kenya, and Malawi and witnesses similar sights to this and we have much better waste management systems in place. “It’s unbelievable really. I could not believe my eyes when we stumbled across it. “The river is just festooned in plastic bags and material of all different colours and types. “It looks almost like there’s a landfill, which has just been shoved into the River Soar. “It’s a scary snapshot of what lies underneath the river, which we don’t usually get to see.” Prof Gabbot said the filth was left behind when the floods brought rubbish which was already in the river to the surface. She said as well as aluminium cans and plastic bottles, she had also spotted kitchen units, fire extinguishers, car bumpers, tricycles, barbecues, mattresses and sofas in the wake of Storm Henk. She believes much of the issue derives from people fly-tipping waste in a brook further upstream as well as discarding litter with little care for the environment. Prof Gabbott, who also volunteers with the Green Circle Nature Regeneration CIC, added litter dropped on streets also ends up washed into the river due to rain. She said: “We had these incredible floods and the water has risen, broken over the banks and all the rubbish in the river has been washed across the flood plain. “Now it is stranded so we can see it. It is like our dirty litter has been hung out to dry where we can all witness it “There’s a nearby brook which has a bad fly-tipping problem – we see huge amounts of industrial and household waste dumped there. “I’ve seen massive offcuts of textiles and labels discarded – fire extinguishers, kitchen units, tricycles, barbecues, TV’s, mattresses, sofas, everything really. “There’s a huge dumpsite in Nairobi, the biggest in Africa, and rubbish washes from slums into the rivers and snags all along the trees. It reminded me of that. “When we go out on the river, we use sonar to look under water and there are aluminium cans so dense in places you can’t see the river bed. “It’s the same on the riverbank where you can’t walk without constantly crunching cans. “Its usually a pleasant place and people come here for food and drink but just discard their rubbish. “It also kills wildlife. There are otters in the river and we recently had to rescue a swan which had fishing line around its neck and was choking. “We want to educate people about the impact this is having. Our freshwater is often overlooked as the focus is on the oceans. “But the knock-on effect of the rubbish dumped in this brook, leads to it flowing into the River Soar, onto the River Trent and then into the North Sea. “We focus on BAME communities and deprived areas to try and reeducate children about the damage this is causing. We have an appalling litter problem here. “We’re taking kids out on the river on a boat, teaching them about the river, how it works, about nature, about the environment and how important it is. “Hopefully they’ll talk to their friends and family and stop this kind of littering happening again. “There’s a lot of Indian derived fabrics and fishing line from effigies which are made for prayer but then discarded in the river. “But it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure we stop ruining our beautiful rivers. What we really need is to stop it happening in the first place.” Local resident Chris Haughton, 34, of Leicester, who regularly walks his dog along the riverbank, said: “It’s absolutely horrific. It’s like an island of trash in places. “It looks like something from a Third World country – not the UK. I knew we had an issue here but this lays it bare for all to see. It makes you ashamed really.” Chris Desai, founder of Leicester environmental charity UOcean, which cleans up waterways, told the BBC: “We see this kind of pollution every day. “When I saw it, I was just ‘that’s the River Soar and that’s why we do this’ but for the public to see, they are shocked beyond belief.” A Leicester City Council spokesperson said: “Clearing litter from the waterways is a constant challenge, and the problem is exacerbated after periods of flooding when waste accumulates as the water subsides. “Littering and fly-tipping are illegal but sadly that doesn’t stop some people from polluting the environment, harming wildlife and creating an eyesore by dumping their waste in the water. “The safest way to remove this litter is by boat, and we’ll be taking our boat and our volunteers out to start tackling the worst affected areas as soon as conditions in the water improve.”

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