I am often asked if I know who is responsible for removing the various rubbish rafts floating behind tangled masses of fallen tree branches on the River Stour and in Hoo Brook. As far as I am aware, this is the Environmental Agency’s responsibility. I suppose there is a shortage of resources at the moment.

Rubbish in the River Stour at the north end of the marsh.

I am amazed at the size, variety and sheer quantity of rubbish floating down the Stour and Hoo Brook, on its way down to the River Severn. I have seen a lorry wheel, a fridge, all manner of camping gear; sport items such as footballs, tennis and golf balls, cricket and tennis bats, dog baskets and cat carriers, footwear of all makes and styles, metal oil drums of various sizes plastic containers, every kind of bottle and food packaging you could possibly imagine. I could go on, but I guess you get the message.

Rubbish in the River Stour.

Rubbish in the River Stour.

The floating rubbish problem is caused by unwanted items being dumped upstream; it then gets trapped behind fallen tree branches, where it stays until the waterways flood. The force of a flood breaks through the log-jams and the rubbish is free to surge downstream, to be held back by the next log-jam. It can take months for a large item, such as a fridge, to move a few hundred metres downstream. I suppose, if the fallen tree branches were cleared from the river banks, the rubbish rafts would have a clear run down the Stour to the weir at Lincomb Lock, just over a mile from Stourport, down the River Severn.

Wilden Marsh Reserve is, thankfully, free of litter and fly tipped rubbish. There is a small amount of rubbish, including a fridge and, I think, a washing machine, together with a few children’s toys in a single pile in the lagoon field, close to the gated entrance at the north end of Wilden Lane. The marsh reserve is clear of rubbish because access is restricted to authorised vehicles, the access gates are padlocked. The reserve is closed to the general public. There is a little rubbish in the wood alongside Hoo Brook, close to Wilden Lane, and this is mainly Mc Donald’s food and drink containers. A bright spark dragged  a wheelie bin alongside the brook a couple of weeks ago and left it there – I don’t know if this was intended as a gentle reminder to place rubbish in the bin, or whether children were the culprits.

An anonymous notice seen in Hoo Wood, presumably, with the ‘cat missing’ flyers in mind.

The situation is not so rosy in Hoo Wood either. WFDC post fly tipping notices in an attempt to prevent some of the residents, who live along the edge of the wood, from dumping their garden waste and tree prunings in the wood, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference, they do it anyway. During the spring and summer months I come across large piles of branches and leaves in various places in the wood – usually directly behind the house of the person who has done the pruning. I must admit that I don’t understand the mentality of these people; you would think that the threat of a £2500.00 fine for fly tipping would stop them – they must feel that WFDC are not likely to take legal action against them.

If a cat goes missing – and lets face it, cats are well-known for wandering off – notices are posted on trees, fences, lampposts, in Hoo Wood, the surrounding streets, and in areas around Spennells. It’s not so much the notices that annoy people, it’s the fact that they are left in place until someone gets fed-up enough to rip them down.

At the north end of Hoo Wood is a path to the Hoo Farm Industrial Estate; this attracts its fair share of empty bottles and cans, discarded cigarette packets, hypodermic syringes, pill foils and the ubiquitous McDonald’s food and drink containers. These are cleared periodically by local people who appreciate the wood.

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