AN angler who has already removed 1,600 bags of rubbish from the River Wear is on a mission to stop fly tipping.

Nigel Wall and a small group of volunteers have been patrolling riverbanks throughout Weardale for two years, removing everything from builders waste, silage wrap and feed bags, to bikes, children’s toys and sofas.

Mr Wall, from Crook, said: “It is deeply upsetting to see how much rubbish is being dumped in the river. The river is a beautiful amenity which should be enjoyed by everyone, however there seems to be a few people who don’t see it this way. On average, I would expect to remove at least 5 or 6 bags from the river during a one or two hour session but this is just scraping the surface.”

Steve Hudson, of Wear Rivers Trust, described Mr Wall as a local hero and added: “Fly tipping is a widespread issue throughout the whole of the catchment and we need to focus on changing people’s attitudes to their environment as it just unacceptable. The river is a fragile ecosystem which is home to amazing species including salmon, brown trout, otter and kingfisher and people need to realise that it is our collective responsibility to ensure it is looked after.”

It is an offence to dump waste without landowner permission. This includes the dumping of garden, building, agricultural and household waste anywhere other than a waste recycling centre. Suspicious activity should be reported to the police on 101 or Durham County Council on 03000-261000.