Boris and Benyon support waterways clean-up campaign

London mayor Boris Johnson and water minister Richard Benyon are backing a new campaign to "clean and green" East London's rivers and canals ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.

London mayor Boris Johnson and water minister Richard Benyon are backing a new campaign to “clean and green” East London’s rivers and canals ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The ‘Big Waterways Clean Up 2012’ was officially launched yesterday (February 8) by British rower and Olympic medallist Mark Hunter, Mr Benyon and mayor of London’s environment director Kulveer Ranger, with the aim of transforming more than 50 waterways in the capital by July 2012.

As part of the partnership campaign, which is being led by environmental charity Thames21, events such as waterway litter-picks, wildflower meadow planting and non-native invasive weed removal will be carried out along 30km of rivers and canals in London. The campaign group said it hopes to get more than 4,000 Londoners involved in the project and continue work already carried out at waterways near the Olympic Park.

The campaign has gained support from political, sporting and charitable individuals and forms part of the Mr Johnson’s plans to support widespread clean-up events in preparation for the London 2012 Games.

Campaign ambassador Mr Hunter is now calling on Londoner’s to get involved saying that “the rivers of London are what first inspired me to take up rowing and are now obviously a huge part of my life. I feel quite privileged to have such access to rivers, and I think we have a great responsibility to look after them”.

Mr Benyon, said: “Rivers are a much loved part of where we live and the Big Waterways Clean Up is an excellent example of how communities can turn their local environment into an area they can be proud of.”

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said that cleaning up London ahead of the games is “a key priority”, adding that London’s “waterways and canals are some of our most precious assets”.

Other campaign partners involved in the project include: London Waterways Commission, Environment Agency (EA), British Waterways, London 2012 Changing Places programme, Olympic Park Legacy Company, Port of London Authority, London Councils, City of London Corporation, and the Inland Waterways Association.

EA chair Lord Chris Smith said that “active stewardship” is needed to improve all rivers that flow through London in order to make them “fit for our Olympic city today and for future generations tomorrow”. This, he said would help the games achieve a lasting legacy.

Carys Matthews

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