'Stop rubbish floating out to sea' appeal to clean up Limehouse Cut

Everything ends up in the canals of east London, it seems... even the kitchen sink!

Everything ends up in the canals of east London, it seems... even a kitchen sink - Credit: Lower Regent's Coalition

Canal volunteers are ready to start cleaning up the Limehouse Cut to get rid of litter and plastic before it reaches the world’s oceans. 

The project was on hold after a major redevelopment at Poplar's Bartlett Park got under way three years ago, which included creating a new pontoon, when the pandemic stopped all activities last year. 

But now the initiative is back on as pandemic restrictions are lifted and the building works complete.  

The first litter-pick event is set to start at Poplar Union on Sunday, June 13, with volunteers using canoes and kayaks to clean up The Cut.

Collecting rubbish while board sailing on the Limehouse Cut

Collecting rubbish while board sailing on the Limehouse Cut - Credit: Lower Regent's Coalition

Campaigners are urging people to hire canoes to gather litter along the way and trade it for treats when they return.  


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Poplar Union community centre opened in 2017 next to the canal as a base for the East End Canoe Polo Club and Moo Canoes. 

“Litter gets blown into the waterways now people are coming outdoors after lockdown,” Moo Canoes' managing director Katy Hogarth said. 

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“But this has created a hazard for wildlife and blighting this stretch of canal, especially the problem of plastic pollution.”  

Duckweed often appears on the Limehouse Cut during summer months that needs to be cleared up.

Duckweed often appears on the Limehouse Cut during summer months that needs to be cleared up. - Credit: Mike Brooke/stockshot

A group of charities, businesses and local groups joined with Poplar Harca housing organisation in 2016 to “adopt” the canal when it was strewn with litter and choked with duck weed each summer. 

They took responsibility for part of The Cut that connects the Regent’s Canal to the River Lea by agreement with the Canal and River Trust to give it some much needed TLC.

Planting weeds on floating islands on east London's waterways creating biodiversity habitats.

Planting weeds on floating islands on east London's waterways creating biodiversity habitats. - Credit: Lower Regent's Coalition

Members of the Lower Regent's Coalition spent the summer months keeping it clear of litter and Thames 21 environment charity has even been planting reed beds to promote biodiversity habitats.  

But volunteers have had to wait three years to really get east London's canals and waterways back to recreational activity, having to clear plastic and other rubbish first. 

The rubbish entering canals and rivers makes its way into the Thames and eventually out to sea, ultimately destroying ocean habitats and contributing to the plastic problem. 

The Lower Regent's Coalition is now running monthly events at Limehouse to help collect plastic before it gets that far. 

Rubbish that gets caught up in rivers and canals of east London that could end up out at sea.

Rubbish that gets caught up in rivers and canals of east London that could end up out at sea. - Credit: Canal & River Trust


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