Riverside residents fight back against river fly tipping

Since summer 2020 residents in the Riverside area have been reporting repeated dumping of rubbish in the River Aire adjacent to where they are living.

A local resident who didn’t wish to be named told South Leeds Life:

“Since August 2020, a business has been dumping numerous bin liners in the River Aire on a regular basis. In August 2020 they fly tipped at least 42 bags in a day, and again in May 2021 15 more bags. Now they are still throwing in at least 3 or 4 bags a day. We know from the contents of the bags that the business is a takeaway or restaurant. There are disposable Shisha pipe tips, half oranges, takeaway containers, plastic bottles, but no evidence of alcohol.”

The Canal and River Trust are the responsible authority and they told us:

“We’re already in touch with Leeds Council to determine details and together with other landowners in the area we’re working to stop this from happening as quickly as possible.”

Leeds City Council added:

“We take waste crime extremely seriously and will always take enforcement action where sufficient evidence is available that we know will stand up in court. We are still investigating the aforementioned case and will contact the complainant once we have concluded our investigation”.

The ongoing dumping of rubbish is causing a great deal of upset. The local resident who spoke anonymously to us explained:

“These events are very distressful for our community; the culprits have been acting without consequence for more than a year, they are polluting the river and endangering wildlife.”

The Canal and River Trust echo the distress these actions cause and explained in more detail the impact such rubbish has on the local environment:

“Our charity is appalled that people are behaving in this way and dumping rubbish into the river. Our local canals and rivers are invaluable, providing vital habitats for some of our best-loved species and providing a space we can enjoy, relax and get away from life’s stresses, which so many of us have needed over the last 18 months.

“Selfish dumping of rubbish not only spoils people’s enjoyment of spending time by the water but it’s also really harmful to the wildlife that live on and by the water”.

The local councillors are aware of the situation and support the investigations and the efforts of the local community to protect their environment. Cllr Paul Wray, (Hunslet and Riverside) told us:

“Cllr Nash, Iqbal and I are aware of dumping of waste in the River Aire. Although Canal and River Trust (CRT) are the responsible authority in this case – council officers are supporting CRT to try and identify where the waste is entering the water system and who is doing this. We sincerely hope they face the consequence of their actions soon.

“We’d like to pay tribute to the volunteer residents and others who’ve removed some of this waste from the water system via their own initiative and thus helped to protect our local environment – indeed, we were very glad to have recently provided a MICE grant to the Friends of the Aire to support these efforts. If any residents have any information to help CRT identify the perpetrators – please contact them.”

If you live by the river and see any rubbish that has been dumped you can take photos and report it to the Canal and River Trust and they will fully support you:

“Thankfully, there are still many people that are helping us to protect and look after our canals and rivers by reporting incidents like this … We would love to hear from any members of the public keen to help look after their local waterway, please visit www.canalriver trust.org.uk for details of opportunities local to you.”