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Nature reserve river bank covered in 'staggering' amount of rubbish

PUBLISHED: 06:13 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:32 30 January 2020

The bag of rubbish collected by investigations editor Tom Bristow from the River Yare at Whitlingham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The bag of rubbish collected by investigations editor Tom Bristow from the River Yare at Whitlingham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

These photos show how the bank of the River Yare in a nature reserve is strewn with plastic, raising fears about pollution.

Our reporter filled a large rubbish bag with waste from the river at Whitlingham Country Park at Trowse on Tuesday.

In half-an-hour we found two syringes, a shoe, plastic bags, crisp packets, bottles and sweet wrappers.

The waste ranged from an abandoned barbecue to tiny plastic beads.

All of it had been washed up or dumped on the south bank close to the playpark at the eastern end of the park off Whitlingham Lane.

Pollution on the River Yare. Photo: Paul BaisleyPollution on the River Yare. Photo: Paul Baisley

The nature reserve is home to otters, geese, herons, cormorants and kingfishers.

Professor Alastair Grant, a marine biologist at the University of East Anglia, said: "It is a potential problem for wildlife.

"The plastic will eventually break down, some of it will end up in sediment but the major problem is if the plastic is swallowed by birds or animals. It will just get stuck in them."

The nature reserve is managed by the Broads Authority which said litter was a problem on the Yare at Whitlingham because of visitor numbers and from waste washed down the river from Norwich.

Pollution on the River Yare at Whitlingham Country Park. Photo: ArchantPollution on the River Yare at Whitlingham Country Park. Photo: Archant

"Litter can contaminate the water, entrap animals and be toxic to wildlife," a spokesman said.

"Our rangers will collect and remove litter from the park and that stretch of river when water levels allow.

"We also assist local volunteer groups by providing them with litter pickers and helping to dispose of waste."

But the problem goes far beyond the 300-metre section which we tried to clean up on Tuesday.

Investigations editor Tom Bristow with a bag of rubbish he collected from the River Yare at Whitlingham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYInvestigations editor Tom Bristow with a bag of rubbish he collected from the River Yare at Whitlingham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paul Baisley, from Trowse, took photos further down the river at Bramerton last August of syringes and plastic beads.

He also found more waste in the river on the northern side of the country park this week.

"It's incredible how much there is in such a small area and shocking to imagine just how much has accumulated along the remaining miles of river banks," the 46-year-old dentist said.

"My children were playing about on the bank of the river when I spotted the rubbish. I was obviously concerned because of the needles, but was also staggered as to the amount of plastic waste all along the bank."

An Environment Agency spokesman said the waste was a "nuisance" but was not likely to have a large impact on water quality.

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