First steps towards new trust to improve the River Waveney

The first steps have been taken towards forming a south Norfolk-wide trust to shine a spotlight on the River Waveney and help improve the river's environment for sailors and the public.

In the short term, the River Waveney Association (Diss) is aiming to improve the section of the river between Denmark Bridge in Diss and Stuston Common.

But the long-term objective is to link up with like-minded residents in neighbouring towns to form a trust to clear litter from the water and banks and fight for funding for other improvements to the river environment, such as bridges.

Up to 10 residents attended the inaugural meeting of the association, which is the brainchild of Diss town councillor Beth Dewhurst, at Diss Corn Hall yesterday, along with representatives from environmental group Keep Britain Tidy and the Environment Agency.

They heard from guest speaker, Harleston sailor Geoff Doggett, who described how his passion for the river was stoked by numerous canoe trips he had made with a friend to Diss during the last 34 years.

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However, he said in recent times he had problems passing through the section of the river behind the Tesco store in Victoria Road, saying it was often blocked with rubbish and the water level was low.

He offered a vision of a River Waveney returned to how it was in the 1930s when sailing boats could easily pass through and the river was clean.

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'We felt that we wanted to 'out' Diss a bit, not because we come from Harleston, but because we wanted to highlight the problems.

'If something starts here there are a whole lot of supporting organisations who may want to work with you,' Mr Doggett said.

Greg Hall, from Keep Britain Tidy, told the meeting he would be prepared to train people on how to collect and dispose of litter and other techniques for keeping the river tidy.

Tesco was criticised by residents attending the meeting for failing to clear away rubbish by the river behind the store, much of which had come from the supermarket.

The association is set to hold its first clean-up event in the next couple of weeks.

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