River Brent Clean-up Nets Two Tonnes of Rubber

150 fly-tipped tyres were hauled out of water by Lager Can and CURB volunteers

The volunteers after the clean-up. Picture: Len Brown

A 16-strong team from LAGER Can - the Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents and CURB - Clean Up The River Brent, gathered on the riverbank north of the A40 in Perivale.

The session began with the shock discovery that, in addition to the 50 tyres spotted on a recce some weeks earlier, another 100 were buried in oozing mud.

Volunteer Jane Branch said, "The river wasn’t deep but this was more difficult than any other river clearance because of the volume of heavy items held down by silt, which stank! These had to be removed from the river and dragged up the bank. What I did notice was how much faster and more freely the river flowed once we’d taken out all those obstacles."

"There were safety issues," added Ben Morris from CURB. "We were working in a heavily polluted and culverted riverbed. The heavy lifting took a toll of exhaustion and injury - mainly to backs and shoulders."

The three-hour operation was made possible after the self-storage company Vanguard granted access to the river from its premises on Alperton Lane. And Ealing Council waste contractor Greener Ealing sent a crew to collect the huge pile of tyres.

The River Brent during a massive clean-up by volunteers. Picture: Brent River & Canal Society
The River Brent during a massive clean-up by volunteers. Picture: Brent River & Canal Society

Also recovered from the river were 10 bicycles, five shopping trolleys and enough rubbish to fill 55 sacks.

The clean-up was only LAGER Can's second river operation since being accredited as a Thames 21 River Action Group.

Volunteers working on the day. Pictures: Len Brown

LAGER Can's Cathy Swift said, "It all ran like clockwork and we had a great time. It was a great collaboration between LAGER Can, CURB, Vanguard and Ealing Council. During the session we were pleasantly surprised to see an eel. It was as if it swam by to thank us!"

The tyres collected at the end of the exercise. Picture: Jacquie de Bidaph

After growing rapidly during the first COVID lockdown, LAGER Can has 2,000 members. In 2021 volunteers cleared 270 tonnes of rubbish from streets and open spaces across Ealing borough. The group's efforts were recognised with a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Mark Percy

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June 7, 2022