THE River Anglers Conservation Group is leading the way in a key battle for water environments in many parts of the world.

River sampling was part of the project in an area where microplastics levels have been shockingly high.

River sampling was part of the project in an area where microplastics levels have been shockingly high.

The River Anglers Conservation Group has conducted its first river clear up in an area featured for its record level of microplastics pollution.

Lancashire’s River Goyt was the venue for RACG members and local anglers turning out to remove rubbish, clear invasive plants and test the water quality.

It was the neighbouring River Tame that was found in March to have the world’s highest recorded level of microplastics particles in the river bed but most Lancashire rivers tested had substantial levels.

The Tame at Denton had a level far excess of anywhere previously sampled at 517,000 particles of the deadly microplastics per square metre.

RACG chairman Matt Marlow, events officer Jerry Gleeson and committee member Paul Floyd were joined by Michael Duddy of Mersey Rivers Trust along with dozens of volunteers.

Matt explained: “The idea of the day was to promote research and conservation on our rivers, and try to get anglers, non-anglers and our younger generations interested, hopefully also gaining volunteers for future projects.

“Mike tested the water quality and the results were good with low ammonia, low nitrate and medium high phosphate.

“Many invertebrates were found and the kids had great fun catching lots of bullheads and stone loach in the nets provided, all showing the overall river quality is much improved.

“The River Goyt should only get better as phosphate levels are reduced by improving the waste water treatment works starting in 2020 onwards by United Utilities.

“Barry McConnell, the RACG’s own eel expert, also came down and we had a very interesting discussion on the Goyt’s eel population.”

Tyres were amongst the rubbish that was cleared.

Tyres were amongst the rubbish that was cleared.

Matt continued: “We had a good clear up and collected loads of industrial bags full of plastic and other waste along the banks, along with retrieving a great deal of metal items and tyres from the river itself.

“We intend to keep working down on this stretch and hope other groups and clubs can use this ongoing project as a template for improvements on their own rivers.

“Personally I would like a little more input from the local community and we will work on that for future events,” Matt concluded.

Elsewhere, the Wye and Usk Foundation are organising more litter and plastic clean-ups of their rivers in 2018 after starting their clean-up campaign in 2004.

In that time, they have removed 100 tonnes of plastic, metal and other items from 1,100 miles of river, by 1,117 volunteers spending 5,386 hours and filling 4,171 sacks. To volunteer call 01874 711714.

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