Matthew spent the day on Saturday with local volunteers and members of the Thames 21 organisation in cleaning up rubbish and other waste from the Silkstream as it passed through Watling Park in Burnt Oak.
After the recent rain, an increased amount of rubbish is washed downstream, either having being thrown into the water or discharged from unauthorised water outflow pipes. The foul sewer is designed to carry contaminated wastewater to a sewage works for treatment, whereas the surface water sewer carries uncontaminated rainwater directly to a local river, stream or soak away. According to Thames Water plumbing mistakes have resulted in up to one in threes homes in London having their waste water applicants being misconnected to the surface water system. This often manifests itself in a large number of wet wipes appearing in water sources as they don't break down.
Much of the other waste found consisted of plastics, which are increasingly being found in the water supply and ultimately in the oceans of the world. In addition to plastic bags drinks containers and other waste, there was a significant amount of beer cans and bottles. In total, over forty refuse bags were collected by a Barnet Council at the end of the session.
Matthew said: "This was not the first time I have engaged in a clean-up in the Hendon constituency having picked up litter at Scratchwood, cleaned up the Follow Brook in Hendon, and the Silkstream in Colindale. While I remain enthusiastic to be part of such an initiative with local people and Thames21, it is a concern that such pollution continues. Items like wet wipes are not compostable and should not be flushed.
"Since the Government's introduction of the five pence carrier bag charge in October 2015, around nine billion fewer single-use plastic bags (a reduction of around 83%) compared to pre-charge levels have been used from the larger supermarkets. We now need to look at plastics contained in takeaway drinks and disposable coffee cups, and as a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee I shall be doing just that".