Operation Clean Sweep

Volunteers from our Morecambe Bay Unit carried out a litter pick operation with a difference on the River Lune near Lancaster this Bank Holiday Monday.
Nick Mattock, who organised the event, said “We train in maritime skills and support our communities, so this seemed to me an ideal way to combine the two aspects”
Inspired by the BeachClean events organised by Morecambe Bay Partnership, the Unit decided to add a really useful purpose to their training – and practice slow-speed manoeuvring picking rubbish out of the River Lune!

“Driving a boat fast and in a straight line isn’t too hard to get the hang” said Nick “but manoeuvring in moving water so you can get alongside a floating detritus before it disappears really hones your skills”

Having been designed to insert Royal Marines onto beaches, the unit’s rigid raiding craft was great for getting right into the river bank – allowing access to places that other small powered boats wouldn’t be able to get into and certainly aren’t accessible on foot.

The River Lune is teeming with wildlife including swans, salmon and otters – and organisations such as The Lune Rivers Trust are working hard to improve the quality of the water. Litter isn’t just unsightly but has a negative effect on the river’s wildlife, and with the river flowing straight into the Irish Sea the impact isn’t just local! Litter can also present a hazard to river users, having the potential to foul propellers.

Our volunteers were able to retrieve six bags of rubbish from the river, most of which was plastic and will be recycled. Other litter included clothing, food packaging and a motorbike! Sadly because part of the ‘bike was well buried in the riverbed we were only able to remove parts of it but we intend to retrieve it all at a later date. Of course the obligatory traffic cone was pulled out too.

A special vote of thanks goes to Lancaster City Council for the litter pick tools they had supplied to the Unit