Yorkshire grit ensures Ribble clean up goes ahead

Storm Hannah failed to stop local people from clearing plastic and other rubbish from the Settle to Long Preston stretch of the River Ribble last Saturday, 27th April.

Local organisations including the Ribble Rivers Trust, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Settle Anglers’ Association and the Churches Together Justice & Peace group in Settle joined forces with members of the public to help protect the natural environment.

They hauled a trailer full of rubbish from the area in blustery conditions.

Jack Spees, CEO of the Ribble Rivers Trust, said: “We were really delighted by the strong turnout of volunteers despite the weather forecasts. We welcomed 28 people from local charities and organisations to help maintain this important stretch of the river.

“Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and thanks to Booths of Settle their efforts were rewarded with tea and biscuits kindly donated by the store.

“We were also enthused by the number of volunteers who stated that they would return to help next year.”

Adrian Shepherd, of the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, added: “The Long Preston Floodplain is a unique wetland habitat blighted by plastic waste washed downstream during storms.

“It is to the credit of committed locals that we have been able to restore the upper Ribble to its natural beauty.”

Known locally as ‘The Deeps’, the Long Preston Floodplain area is managed by local farmers and landowners for livestock and wildlife.

In 2004, a consortium of charities and conservation groups, led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), formed the Long Preston Floodplain Project and part of their purpose is to re-create and enhance the rare wet grassland habitat found on The Deeps, together with restoring the River Ribble and reducing flood risk downstream.

The area attracts a lot of interest from local and national conservation bodies including Natural England and the Environment Agency because it is an important haven for wildlife. A significant part of the area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and many nesting and migratory birds rely on the unique floodplain habitat.

Steve Rhodes, Chair of Settle Anglers Association, said: “As well as improving the environment for fish, birds and other wildlife, local initiatives like this bring different groups of people together, making our community stronger.

“We’re looking forward to the next event!”