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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Miriam Burrell

Bill Bailey and Tony Robinson among stars launching anti-plastics campaign for Canal and River Trust

Comedian Bill Bailey and presenter Tony Robinson are among celebrities urging Britons to clear London and the UK’s waterways of plastic waste and rubbish that is having a devestating impact on wildlife.

Some 14million pieces of plastic end up in and around canals and rivers in England every year, with 500,000 entering the sea.

The Canal & River Trust said it spends £1 million each year cleaning up plastic waste, which has a devastating impact on ducks, swans, otters, fish and endangered water voles.

The Trust, along with celebrities including Strictly Come Dancing performer Neil Jones, TV presenter and singer Cerys Matthews, presenter Gaby Roslin, and celebrity chef and presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, are taking part in a campaign that encourages people to pick up rubbish to raise money for cleaner waterways.

Called the Big Plastic Pick Up, people can donate £14 to the Trust, pickup 14 pieces of litter and encourage 14 friends to do the same as part of the initiative.

All the funds raised will go towards the ongoing costs incurred by the charity of cleaning 2,000 miles of canals and waterways across England and Wales.

Eoin Harris, head of environment and climate action at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We have worked out that if everyone visiting our canals and waterways picked up just one piece of plastic, the network would be clear of litter within a year.

Strictly’s Neil Jones is among the stars taking part in the campaign (Canal & River Trust)

“Litter has a devastating impact on the wildlife inhabiting canals and rivers. Animals get entangled in plastic packaging and can suffocate in items such as plastic bags.

“Creatures can cut themselves on sharp objects thrown away and the rubbish discarded damages the homes and nests that animals spend so long building.”

Other stars who have supported the campaign include entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, zoologist and presenter Megan McCubbin, Property Ladder star Sarah Beeny, broadcaster Saira Khan.

Litter often blows into waterway systems from neighbouring streets and land, the Trust explained.

Jones said: “Plastic and litter can be dangerous to both people and wildlife, so we urgently need to keep up the fight against it. Together we can help banish plastic rubbish by canals for good.”

Unusual items such as pizza delivery bikes, unlocked safes, a 16ft dead python and even cars have been found at the bottom of the water, but it’s the large-quantity of single-use plastic waste which risks overwhelming species, the Trust said.

The Government’s recently announced budget cuts to the Canal & River Trust’s clean-up work will make clearing plastic litter even harder, it added.

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