News article created on 10 October 2019

Plastic and litter at Stanley Ferry

Sean McGinley, director for our Yorkshire & North East region, explains how the Trust is addressing the issue of plastic and litter at Stanley Ferry and how you can help.

Stanley Ferry Aqueduct Stanley Ferry Aqueduct view from the side

“Devastatingly, our canals and rivers are inadvertently acting as ‘plastics highways’, transporting rubbish from where we live out to sea. This is most clearly visible during times of high rainfall, when rubbish is often swept along by faster flowing water and accumulates at places like the Stanley Ferry trash screen." 

Encouragingly though, lots of people have seen BBC’s Blue Planet and share the Trust’s mission to eradicate plastic from our waterways. We think that if each person who visited our waterways picked up just one piece of litter from the towpath or river bank, they could be plastic free within a year.

If each person who visited our waterways picked up just one piece of litter from the towpath or river bank, they could be plastic free within a year.

Canal & River Trust

Volunteer or donate

As the charity that looks after the Aire & Calder Navigation and the Stanley Ferry Aqueduct we are asking people to help by volunteering or donating. We already spend around £1 million a year to remove plastic and litter from across our waterways. Specifically at Stanley Ferry we face a complex access issue to safely remove the litter accumulated behind the trash screen which protects the aqueduct. 

Dangerous conditions

At the moment river flows are very fast and access to the site needs to be scheduled during the summer months, when water flow is often at is lowest. We would strongly urge people not to attempt a clean-up at the Stanley Ferry site at this time due to the considerable health and safety risks.

Plastic in River Calder Plastic in River Calder

We've a significant project planned for summer 2021 to improve the structure to make maintenance of both the structure easier and the removal of litter and plastics.

We recently launched a nationwide campaign to highlight the problem of litter and plastics in our waterways. We'd love to hear from anyone interested in helping to look after their local waterway and help our charity to tackle plastic and litter. Find out more about Canal & River Trust’s Plastics Challenge and read our research report, visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/get-involved or follow us on social media @CanalRiverTrust #PlasticsChallenge

The Stanley Ferry Aqueduct was designed to carry a 50-metre long stretch of the Aire & Calder Navigation over the River Calder. Considered to be the largest aqueduct built from cast iron it was built between 1836 and 1839 it has international significance as one of the earliest through-arch bridges in the world – opening a full 100 years before the world’s most famous example, Sydney Harbour Bridge.

For more details read our Stanley Ferry trash screen Q&As.