river usk clean up mid september 2022

River Usk Clean Up – Mid September 2022

Pride in Pill has done some big clean-ups before on the River Usk, but nothing on the scale of the task we’re working on this weekend.

liberty steel newport

The stretch of riverbank alongside Liberty Steel is on a bend in the river, and has a flat shelf of salt marsh – perfect conditions for anything washed down river to be deposited at high tide and trapped. Because this is a working steelworks, there is no public access and we’ve not previously scheduled any cleanups here, and so the waste is the result of many years worth of high tides.

We first began to discuss a cleanup here in 2020, and then the first of the COVID lockdowns hit and put paid to it. We started planning this weekend’s activity several months ago, and soon realised we needed some help. Matt Sellwood, Keep Wales Tidy’s Newport project officer came on board, and was invaluable in drafting the paperwork, assessing the health and safety risks and figuring out how best to organise the work. Our long-suffering partners at Newport City Council agreed to take the material away – thanks to senior managers Scott and Silvia for approving this, and to Christine Thomas and her team for being so supportive. Kerry Murton at Natural Resources Wales advised on how to do the work in an environmentally sound way. And Richard Steed and his staff at Liberty Steel have been incredibly accommodating throughout.

The extra volunteers

river usk clean up mid september 2022

We also realised that the job needed a very large number of bodies. Alastair Kryzosiak from Natural Resources Wales rallied a team of his colleagues; several staff from Newport Norse, who manage the city council’s facilities also joined us; and Dave King and his team at Cardiff Rivers Group came over for a change of scenery, and to share their huge expertise of similar cleanups with us.

riverbank litter pick

As usual, much of what we collected was recyclable material. As at the end of Friday, we’re up to 120 sacks of bottles and cans. We have around another 80 bags of small non-recyclable waste, and then a varied collection of big items: huge polystyrene blocks, shipping barrels, fridges, televisions. You name it, we probably found it.

pride in pill river usk litter newport

We’re back tomorrow for round 2. Just like the infamous Road to Nowhere (now the Road to Nature) the waste on this stretch of the Usk is visible on Google Earth. As a result of today’s magnificent efforts, those aerial photos are already out of date. Well done everyone!

Day 2 of the River Usk clean up

Our cleanup at Liberty Steel concluded today with another four hour session from 13 hard-working volunteers and staff from Liberty Steel. This was by far our largest cleanup on the river Usk to date: the photos speak for themselves. Liberty Steel were excellent hosts for this event, and the staff share our enthusiasm for cleaning up the river environment. Over the two days, together with the other organisations who helped out (Cardiff Rivers Group, Natural Resources Wales, Newport Norse) we put in 200 hours, and many more hours of planning went in leading up to the event.

Almost all of the large items left after yesterday’s cleanup have now been removed ready for collection by Newport City Council. And we made further headway with bagging up small items, collecting about another 200 bags; again, much of it was recyclable – mainly plastic bottles.

pride in pill river usk clean up september

Help improving our environment

The piles of driftwood on the site are very valuable for coastal wildlife, but they conceal large amount of litter washed up by the high tides. We collected almost all of the most visible litter over the last two days, and will return again one day to see what else we can find.

There are three months left to go in 2022, and this was our 75th cleanup of the year. We’ve carried out events widely across the city, as well as our regular events on the river and our neighbourhood cleanups in Pillgwenlly. Everyone is welcome to join us on our cleanup events and help us make our city a better place to live.

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