21st November 2022

The amount of plastic, metal and glass collected from a one-hour river litter pick between The Lion Hotel in Farningham and the M20 Bridge was shocking and should provide a wake-up call for residents and visitors to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Amongst many other items there were 97 drinks bottles, 95 metal drink cans, 35 plastic shopping bags and a staggering 188 items of plastic packaging including general sheeting and wrappers from sweets and crisps etc.

These numbers far exceeded a similar litter pick carried out in the River Cray in urban Orpington.

Unusual and larger items also found in the River Darent included car tyres, a car seat, two painting decorating trays, two sections of plastic guttering and a plastic clock!

The litter pick was organised by the North West Countryside Partnership, working together with the Rivers Trust to deliver the Preventing Plastic Pollution Project on the Darent, Cray, Shuttle and Danson Stream.

Local organiser and Senior Partnership Officer Mark Gallant brought a team of volunteers to Farningham and they were joined by members of the Friends of Farningham group and Pauline Penney, who runs the Eynsford in Bloom group.

As part of the project the Rivers Trust have developed a database and standardised methodology for collecting and recording plastic litter found in and alongside rivers throughout the South East of England. It is a sobering thought that around 80 percent of plastic in the ocean originally comes from rivers and half of marine litter is made up of single use items. The impact of all this debris on fish and wildlife is well documented in that it breaks down into micro-plastics and can be found in the fish we eat.

We all have a part to play in reducing this horrendous risk to the future of our planet. The figures come from the litter pick on 12th October and two more are scheduled for our area; in Farningham again on 15th March 2023 and at Westminster Field in Horton Kirby on 25th March.

Details are available from Mark Gallant by email at mark.gallant@kent.gov.uk or text 07740 185228. Information is also available from The Clerk at Farningham Parish Council at clerk@farninghamparishcouncil.org

Details of the PPP initiative, which also involves northern France, can be found of the website