Green cham­pion says plas­tic race ducks are lit­ter­ing river

Salford Advertiser - - MANCHESTER MATTERS - Neal Keel­ing

AN en­vi­ron­ment cham­pion has called for Manch­ester’s an­nual duck race to be scrapped... af­ter com­plain­ing that hun­dreds of plas­tic an­i­mals from the event are still clog­ging a river.

The hugely popular fam­ily at­trac­tion raises thou­sands of pounds for char­ity.

But three weeks af­ter the event hun­dreds of yel­low plas­tic ducks are lit­ter­ing the River Ir­well.

In re­cent years ma­jor work has been done to clean up the river, which divides Manch­ester and Sal­ford.

Now Luke Blaze­jew­ski, a wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher, and en­vi­ron­men­tal film maker, who is also the driv­ing force be­hind Clean Up Sal­ford, has crit­i­cised the man­age­ment of the race.

He said the af­ter­math was “hun­dreds – if not thou­sands – of plas­tic ducks lit­tered across the Ir­well through Manch­ester and Sal­ford.”

Dr Blaze­jew­ski, who lives in Sal­ford, added: “Of course the money raised for Brain­wave is a worth­while cause, but the River Ir­well has had to fight hard to come back from the brink of life­less­ness. To­day we have sand martins fly­ing from Africa to spend their sum­mer here, as well as the gold­eneyes who come from Ice­land to over­win­ter.

“The op­ti­mist in me says that there are so many other kinds of fund rais­ing that don’t have an im­pact on the nat­u­ral world, that this race could be re­placed with some­thing else. But if it is part of Manch­ester’s cul­ture then a more vig­or­ous cap­ture scheme is needed to col­lect the ducks.

“There’s a huge dan­ger el­e­ment to it. The plas­tic can break up over time and it will go into the food chain, with plas­tic be­ing eaten by fish, which in turn are eaten by birds.”

Dr Blaze­jew­ski is also cam­paign co-or­di­na­tor for Let’s Do It UK – aimed at gal­vanis­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of vol­un­teers to clean up the coun­try. This year’s duck race – the sixth – was the big­gest so far, with thou­sands of peo­ple con­verg­ing on Spin­ning­fields to see the launch of the ducks. Last year’s event raised £20,000 for Brain­wave, a char­ity which helps chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties. It en­abled 160 chil­dren in the north west to achieve greater in­de­pen­dence.

A spokes­woman for the char­ity vowed that or­gan­is­ers would look into the com­plaint. She added: “We will in­ves­ti­gate. Ob­vi­ously we don’t want any wildlife to come to harm.”

Libby Wither­den, head of mar­ket­ing and events at Cap­i­tal Prop­er­ties, which or­gan­ises the event, said: ‘We have suc­cess­fully run the Manch­ester Duck Race for six years with no pre­vi­ous is­sues.

“On this oc­ca­sion, un­for­tu­nately, a net broke and the fast flow­ing river con­di­tions en­abled some ducks to slip through. We have been on a num­ber of trips to re­trieve the ducks that got away and have sched­uled in some ad­di­tional trips to en­sure ev­ery duck is re­trieved.” A CHAR­ITY is host­ing a ‘living with di­a­betes day’ in the hope of help­ing some of the 122,000 peo­ple in Greater Manch­ester with the con­di­tion.

Peo­ple living with type two di­a­betes are in­vited to the event next month at the Lowry Theatre, Pier 8, Sal­ford Quays.

Any­one wish­ing to at­tend the all-day event on May 18 is asked to book a place on­line at www.di­a­ lwdd, email lwdd@ di­a­ or call 0345 123 2399.

Some of the plas­tic ducks washed up on the banks of the River Ir­well, and, inset, this year’s duck race

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