The Independent London Newspaper
22nd August 2017

Wildlife abandons mucky canal waters

    Rubbish in the Regent’s Canal

    Rubbish in the Regent’s Canal has resulted in residents noticing less wildlife

    Published: 01 August, 2013
    by TOM FOOT and CHARLOTTE LATIMER

    RUBBISH building up in Regent’s Canal has become a cause for concern for residents, nature lovers and boat owners who say the problem is at its worst for a decade.

    They have noticed fewer Canada geese, ducks, cormorants and other wildlife normally spotted around the Kentish Town Lock have not returned this year.

    A thick layer of junk – including beer cans, trolleys and traffic cones – is building up beneath the surface.

    Jessica Duncan, who has lived by the Kentish Town Lock for 10 years, said: “I haven’t seen my cormorant for about two months, I used to see him every day. This year there’s more rubbish and more stuff under the water, supermarket trolleys, workmen’s things, cones. The amount of rubbish in the canal is terrible.”

    She wants people spotted throwing litter into the canal to be fined.

    The section of the canal is short on green space and attracts a lot of litter from Camden Lock and Islington, as experienced during last month’s Canalival festival. Weeds and waste from the King’s Cross redevelopment project also bung the waterway and are only removed by volunteers with fishing nets.

    The Friends of Regent’s Canal group receive more letters about the rubbish issue than any other.

    Chairman Ian Shacklock said: “Camden Lock is one of the biggest sources of litter. There are two victims – wildlife and boats, for anyone else it’s an aesthetic problem.

    "Volunteers are not enough. It may be a lag while they get their infrastructure together. There’s been no improvement but I’m not sure it got any worse.”

    He thinks canal bins are not emptied enough at busy times, and excess litter is being blown into the lock.

    The Royal Bank of Canada has given £60,000 to plant floating islands along the canal to the London Wildlife Trust as part of “wildlife on your waterways project”.

    The islands will filter the water and attract wildlife to the banks of the canal, between Camden Lock and the Islington Tunnel.

    Last year a new charity, the Canal and River Trust, took over responsibility for canals and rivers in England and Wales from government body British Waterways. They have teams who regularly empty bins and organise volunteers to litter pick.

    A spokesman for the Trust said: “Like everyone who loves being on the towpath or afloat on the water, it’s so frustrating when people can’t be bothered to look after the canal.

    "For our part, we do all we can to keep it clean, and have teams out twice a day, five days a week to collect rubbish, as well as volunteers helping us with litter-picks, but really it’s a case of people being responsible.

    "Come and enjoy the canal – it’s a great setting in Camden – and it’s not that difficult to make sure you don’t leave your litter there when you leave.”

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