Shock after digger pulls THIS out of Sheffield and South Yorkshire Canal

These shameful pictures reveal how fly-tippers are polluting South Yorkshire's waterways - putting fish and wildlife at risk while also blighting beauty spots.

By Lee Peace
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 11:22

The huge mangled wreckage of metal – containing everything from shopping trolleys to discarded bicycle wheels – was pulled out of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal in Parkgate in April.

The River Stewardship Company working with Don Catchment Rivers Trust organised the Great Sheffield River Clean-Up on the River Don between Neepsend and Kelham Island. Picture: Steve Ellis

The images were released by the Canal and River Trust to highlight the extent of the problem after data also revealed South Yorkshire's waterways are among the most fly-tipped in the region.

The organisation and an army of volunteers who work tirelessly to keep our canals and rivers clean are now urging members of the public to stop throwing their litter into the water.

Sean McGinley, the trust’s director for Yorkshire and the North East, said: “We recently filled a skip full of fly-tipped items from the canal in Rotherham, full of shopping trolleys. This took nearly a day to remove by our team.

“We remove thousands of plastic bottles, cans and other consumable items that have been needlessly dumped in and along our rivers and canals each year.

A digger pulls fly-tipped litter from the waterway.

“With a plastic bottle taking 450 years to biodegrade, we want people to stop and think before dropping their rubbish into our canals and rivers in the first place.

“Please take your litter home with you. Fly-tipping and dropping litter into our waterways can lie on the bottom of the canal bed, out of sight and mind to many passer-by, but causing problems to boaters and by reducing water quality which can have a serious impact on wildlife that live in and around the water as well as sadly getting caught in the litter itself.

“Our canals ultimately lead into seas and oceans across the world. If people are serious about protecting our planet, then we need to start to think locally to prevent litter and plastics blighting our waterways and harming our wildlife globally.”

The huge pile of litter.

Data obtained using the Freedom of Information Act showed Sheffield and South Yorkshire Canal, Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and Stainforth and Keadby Canal were among the top five worst waterways for fly-tipping incidents in the Yorkshire and North East Region.

There were 125 reported instances of fly-tipping at the three waterways between April 2014 and April 2019.

The size of litter dredged up ranges from single items to lorry loads.

Sheffield and South Yorkshire Canal was the second highest on the table with 67 reported incidents - top of the table was the Aire and Calder Navigation Canal with 139 incidents.

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Rubbish pulled from the canal.

Sheffield and Tinsley Canal was fourth with 31 reports, Stainforth and Keadby Canal was fifth with 27.

A dedicated army of more than 500 regular volunteers patrol the water banks ensuring the canals and rivers are as clean as they can be.

There are also 60 partner organisations, including the Friends of the Blue Loop, River Stewardship Company, Don Catchment Rivers Trust and Don Gorge Conservation Volunteers, many of which are active in South Yorkshire.

Sarah Emberson, a communities and education officer at the Attercliffe-based River Stewardship Company, said: “There are a lot of sanitary products and things like face wipes that end up in the waterways, I think that is to do with people throwing things down the toilet that they shouldn't that then ends up in the river, so people need to stop doing that.

“Then there are things like the yellow plastic takeaway boxes, cans and bottles – we are constantly picking those out.

“There are a lot of micro plastics in particular that are harmful. They get broken down into small pieces and then end up getting eaten by fish and wildlife, which is obviously harmful to them.

“We also get larger items like car bumpers, bikes and shopping trolleys thrown in. These all contribute to blockages in the waterways that can lead to flooding.

“People really need to think before they discard rubbish. Our canals and rivers should be nice places to visit.”

Mr McGinley described volunteers as “invaluable” and added: “We simply couldn’t achieve what we do without their support and enthusiasm.”

But went on to say that despite their valuable efforts clearing up litter dumping is still costly for the trust and this is “money that could be better spent elsewhere – from essential maintenance of this 200-year old network, to improving wildlife habitats and ensuring the waterways are a lovely place to spend time.”

Mr McGinley urged people to become volunteers which could include a range of satisfying tasks such as “painting, litter picking, cutting back vegetation and planting.”

He added: “It’s a great way to learn new practical skills, meet people, make a difference and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of being by the water, from the towpath or even on a paddle board or boat.”

To find out more about the work of the trust and volunteering visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk