Battle to clean up Sheffield rivers

Rubbish dumped at the side of the River Don in Sheffield off Stoke Street
Rubbish dumped at the side of the River Don in Sheffield off Stoke Street
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River stewards and volunteers are fighting a ‘never-ending battle’ to keep Sheffield’s waterways clear of litter.

The city’s rivers and surrounding areas are often choked with waste, said Hellen Hornby, community team manager at The River Stewardship Company.

Hotspots include a bank off the River Don in Attercliffe – near to Stoke Street and the Five Weirs Walk – where fly-tippers throw waste over a nearby wall.

Hellen said: “There are all manner of things we have had people throw in the river.

“We’ve had bags of rubbish from restaurants containing naan breads, bags of stones and gravel which we can’t get to.

“We are constantly out there trying to get things out of rivers but it is a never-ending battle I’m afraid.

“People don’t seem to realise that there are legitimate places to take their waste and if we could publicise that a bit more we might have less fly-tipping.

“If they find a quiet corner of the river they will dump there.

“It can cause problems for wildlife, certainly if it is something like car parts which may leak oil into the watercourses.”

Some incidents of waste blighting rivers – such as oil leaks – are reported to the Environment Agency.

Removing litter from rivers and areas nearby can also be a legal minefield, as it is not always clear who owns the land which has been dumped on.

Hellen said: “The bank near Stoke Street is where lots of people have been throwing things over the wall and it falls down the banking.

“Part of the wall was actually destroyed so people could throw rubbish through.

“We would love to be able to get in there. We’ve got 30 volunteers ready to go but we don’t know who owns the land and who is responsible for it.”