Sandy Spencer, a volunteer from the Strandliners conservation group spent 24 hours over a period of five days recently clearing debris (mostly plastic) from the south bank of the River Rother from Scots Float to the Rye Railway Bridge, just over a mile from end to end.
The result? Some 250lb (133kg) of rubbish collected, bagged and safely stored for collection.
Along the way, Sandy bumped into East Guldeford farmer Richard Baker who raises sheep on a stretch of land that abuts the riverbank. “My girlfriend Annie has been cleaning up here ahead of lambing season,” he said, pointing to the bank. “We put the rams – they are Romneys; the breed has been around for generations – to the ewes on November 5. We get the first lambs on April 1.”
Romneys – the rams are not to be bumped into, weighing in at over 100lb or more – are noted for their foraging skills, right down to the water’s edge. Removing bags and bags of plastic rubbish (single-use drinks bottles, cotton-bud sticks, “disposable” cigarette-lighters), secondary microplastics (minute shards of manufactured plastics such as food containers and bottle caps), and fragments of glass from the pastures where the Romneys and their lambs graze is not just an exercise in cosmetics. It makes one small section of that river environment safer for domestic animals and wildlife. Humans too.
You can do your bit. Strandliners, in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage, is leading another River Rother clean-up on Tuesday, April 9 and Sunday, April 14. Meet at the Monkbretton Road Bridge at 4pm and 2pm respectively. You’ll make our river and our seas cleaner – and you’ll get to see those cute new Romney lambs up close!
Strandliners is a Community Interest Company operating throughout the Rother District. It is a volunteer-driven, community-led initiative supported, in part, by Rother District Council.
The group organises regular community beach-cleans and riverbank-cleans. In collaboration with national organisations (Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Great Nurdle Hunt), it carries out detailed analyses of types and quantities of waste collected in its surveys and feeds them back to international platforms to encourage global change. In 2018, it collected and safely disposed of 2.5 tonnes of toxic waste from the banks of the River Rother. In 2019, it will push further upstream to determine where plastic waste originates.
Image Credits: Sandy Spencer .