Despite it being a bitterly cold morning, the steely determination and commitment of the Thames 21 volunteers and others, was even more apparent at the launch of the Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 (BWCU 2012)launch this morning. This is a campaign borne out of a collaboration between the London Waterways Commission (which I am proud to chair), the Environment Agency, British Waterways, Mayor of London, OPLC and a host of other partners. The idea is to build upon the existing efforts to clean up the canals near to the Olympic site by extending this to more of East London’s waterways.
The launch was attended by myself including Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Environment and Fisheries and Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor’s Director for the Environment. More importantly, there were volunteers, young and old including children from the local primary school, Gainsborough, all willing to give up their valuable time to help clean up their local waterways, not only in time for the Olympics but beyond into the legacy period.
The campaign aims to recruit no less than 4000 Londoners in more than 80 events to transform over 50 waterway locations along 30km of rivers and canals, all before the Olympics! The events will include waterway litter-picks and tree planting (full timetable can be viewed on the BWCU 2012 website). This morning, we were able to collect several bags full of rubbish from the waterfront which include plastic bottles, crisp bags and other plastic debris. London’s waterways are a vital, yet sometimes forgotten part of the city’s landscape. If we all do our bit to keep our rivers and canals clean, then the benefits would be huge, not only for us but also the local wildlife.
I wish the campaign every success and would encourage anyone to get involved, sign up and rediscover their local waterways as some of the most valuable and rewarding spaces in London.