Battle lines drawn for River Clyde litter task

Upstream Battle, River Clyde clean-up campaign.
Upstream Battle, River Clyde clean-up campaign.

Environmental groups are preparing for battle against the scourge of litter in the River Clyde and its tributaries.

Keep Scotland Beautiful has launched its Upstream Battle campaign, the start of an 18-month programme of initiatives raising awareness of the part that land-based litter plays in ocean litter accumulation and practical action to reduce the problem.

It will trigger actions along the length of the Clyde, from its source in the Lowther Hills to Helensburgh and Greenock. It will also include its tributaries, such as the rivers Kelvin, Leven, Avon and the White and Black Cart, and the Forth and Clyde Canal. It is estimated that 1.8 million people, around 35 per cent of Scotland’s population, live in the River Clyde catchment area.

New research shows that 88 per cent of people across Scotland are concerned by the extent of litter pollution in rivers, heightened by recent media coverage and documentaries highlighting the problem of ocean waste. Recent research has estimated that 12.7 million tonnes of waste enters the marine environment every year across the globe and the European Commission has estimated that 80 per cent of marine waste originates from irresponsible disposal onshore.

Upstream Battle will focus on raising awareness and inspiring action.

These involve community engagement, working with groups along the Clyde valley, making people aware of the problem of marine litter and how to keep the Clyde clean; a ‘citizen science’ project to empower thousands of people in the Clyde Valley to clean up and identify the litter along the banks of their local river; and a schools’ programme to help educate young people about the path litter takes from source to sea.

Blue Planet cameraman Doug Allan, who helped launch the campaign, said: “It’s hugely satisfying to see the part that the Blue Planet 2 series has played in heightening awareness of this devastating problem for the marine environment.

“I’m equally proud that it’s my native Scotland that’s setting the pace in recognising the scale of the problem and taking practical steps to address it.

“What we do on land directly affects the health of our rivers and our seas and everything that lives in them. It’s time to get serious about the source of marine litter.”

The campaign, which is managed by Keep Scotland Beautiful and RECOUP, includes the Scottish Government, Crown Estate Scotland, ScotMid Cooperative and RCP/bpi.

Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Our research clearly shows that people across Scotland are deeply concerned by the amount of litter finding its way into our rivers and oceans and now is the time to take action.”

Information can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/upstreambattle