A COORDINATED clean up of The Deeps floodplain near Settle threw up several bags of rubbish, including more than 20 tennis and football balls.

Volunteers showed their support for the environment by carrying out the clean up of the area along the River Ribble, classed a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Some 30 people answered the call to help restore the natural beauty of the area as part of Earth Day - the world's largest environmental movement.

They included volunteers from Ribble Rivers Trust, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Settle Anglers Association and Craven Conservation Group.

And, together they collected half a large trailer full of plastic and metal from the Long Preston Floodplain area

- a section of the River Ribble between Settle and Long Preston known as The Deeps.

Amongst the rubbish was a child’s bicycle, walking boots, huge plastic containers, a selection of more than 20 footballs and tennis balls, large pieces of foam house insulation and lots of plastic bottles.

Jack Spees, chief executive of the Ribble Rivers Trust, one of the key sponsors of the clean-up project, said: “Rivers are the conduit along which not just water flows but, sadly, much of our pollution too, including litter and plastic. Clean-ups are a great way to improve our rivers and make them a more enjoyable place to visit, but also to protect our seas which are becoming increasing clogged with plastic.”

The Deeps floodplain is managed by the area's farmers and landowners for livestock and wildlife. It includes a significant part designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), with many nesting and migratory birds relying on the unique floodplain habitat.

In 2004 a consortium of charities and conservation groups, led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), formed the Long Preston Floodplain Project – part of its purpose is to re-create and enhance the rare wet grassland habitat, together with restoring the river Ribble and reducing flood risk downstream.

Adrian Shepherd, Long Preston Floodplain project officer at YDMT, said it was great to see the community coming together to clean up the area.

“The Ribble is a fast flowing river in its upper reaches and carries all sorts of rubbish downstream until it reaches the floodplain, at which point the flow slows and litter is deposited along the river bank," he said.

"A significant amount of litter had built up over a number of years, posing a real hazard to wildlife and farm animals that graze nearby, as well as detracting from the natural beauty of the area. It was great to see the community working together to help restore this unique Yorkshire habitat – together we made a big difference.”