Wiltshire Publications

Community helps tackle litter in local brook

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VOLUNTEERS joined Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for a clean up of Bitham Brook to help tackle the plastic pollution crisis. 

Wiltshire Wildlife said, “On a grey afternoon in the middle of Westbury, the last thing you might expect to see is a gaggle of welly-booted volunteers from the local community, armed with litter picks and bin bags. 

“Nonetheless, on Thursday 8th August an intrepid team turned out to comb the public areas around The Mead for any litter than could make its way into the Bitham Brook. 

“Over the last few months we have all become aware of the plastic pollution crisis facing the world’s oceans, but closer to home our rivers are facing much the same pressures. 

“Litter can cause a huge problem for the wildlife that lives in and around river systems, ingestion of plastic particles and entanglement in litter poses just as much a problem for our freshwater animals as it does for marine creatures.

“Sadly, our rivers are too often forgotten about and neglected, and the Bitham Brook in Westbury is no exception.

“However, we in the water team at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust are trying to turn this around on the River Biss catchment and the litter pick on the Bitham Brook has been a good starting point. We cleared over 10 bags of rubbish from the stream and discovered some amazing wildlife living beneath the surface, including stickleback, freshwater shrimp and cased caddisfly. 

“The litter pick on the Bitham Brook was one of a series of community events we have been running over the summer to help raise awareness of the importance of our rivers and inspire local communities to cherish and protect these special and unique ecosystems.”

Cllr Gordon King, who volunteered at the clean-up said, “It was a pleasant and illuminating experience that brought us much closer to nature and river life than anyone of us would have expected. 

“For me, I learned much more of the factors that influence water quality and the river life it is able to support. 

“Wiltshire Wildlife Trust officers Nick and Abigail provided us with a clear explanation as to why (most probably) the water quality of the Bitham Brook is currently rated as moderate, providing food much for thought. 

“We started by doing a litter pick along the length of the brook, with Abigail getting into the brook to haul out litter and large items, whilst we stuck to the banks and walkways. 

“We collected much, but to be fair, less than I was initially expecting and finished with our hosts netting the river life. This provides a real indicator of the health of the brook. 

“We were joined by interested passers-by including children who were delighted in seeing the results of the netting.

“As chair of the area board, what I aim to do is to raise the profile of the brook to find a consensus from which projects may evolve with partners to improve the water quality and the experience we might get out of the brook.”

Pictured: Volunteers during the clean-up of Bitham Brook.