VOLUNTEERS will be out on Saturday, April 27 carrying out a clean up operation of a ‘unique’ part of the River Ribble near Settle.

For the second year running, a number of voluntary groups will be getting together to clear all manner of rubbish from the section of the river, known as The Deeps, between Settle and Long Preston.

The flat, often waterlogged, area of land, which can be seen from the A65 and from the railway, is managed by farmers and landowners for livestock and wildlife.

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 work is to re-create and enhance the rare wet grassland habitat found on The Deeps, together with restoring the River Ribble and reducing flood risk downstream.

The area also attracts a lot of interest from both local and national conservation bodies including Natural England and the Environment Agency. A significant part of the area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and many nesting and migratory birds rely on its unique floodplain habitat.

Adrian Shepherd, Long Preston Floodplain Project Officer at YDMT, said: “The Ribble is a fast flowing river in its upper reaches and carries all sorts of rubbish downstream until it reaches The Deeps, at which point the flow slows and the river begins to meander. When this happens rubbish - especially plastic waste - is deposited along the river bank. It is particularly bad just south of Settle, where the Ribble passes under the A65. “

He added: “While we cleared much of the rubbish last year the flooding last month washed down masses of new waste, which is not just unsightly, but also poses a real hazard to wildlife and to farm animals that graze nearby. The floodplain is important to many different groups, including farmers, landowners, businesses, conservationists, bird watchers, anglers and walkers. I am pleased that this event will bring the local community together to help restore a unique Yorkshire habitat.”

Ensuring that the river continues to support healthy fish populations is central to the conservation work of the Settle Anglers Association, which owns the fishing rights over much of the Ribble in Settle.

Anyone can join in the clean-up on April 27. Volunteers are asked to meet under Runley Bridge - where the A65 passes over the river - at 1.45pm for a 2pm start, until about 5pm. Gloves, rubbish bags and pick sticks will be provided. People are advised to dress suitably, including waterproof boots, and to bring refreshments. Children are welcome, if accompanied by an adult. For more information, contact admin@ribbletrust.com