Canal cleaners taking fly-tippers to task

From Halloween costumes to motorbikes, the Burnley Canal Task Force clear away some strange items from the area's canals as the altruistic group meet on the first Sunday of each month to ensure that a mile stretch of waterway is kept neat and tidy.

Burnley Canal Task Force members Helen Parkinson, Ian Fletcher, Jackie McKenzie, and Neil Hartley.
Burnley Canal Task Force members Helen Parkinson, Ian Fletcher, Jackie McKenzie, and Neil Hartley.

And on March 5th, the volunteers even beat their record for most shopping trolleys fished out in one day with eight trolleys ranging from Tesco's to Sainsbury's in amongst their efforts to grapple rubbish and pick litter.

Working tirelessly, the task force volunteers take it upon themselves to tend to areas that prove strikingly vulnerable to fly-tipping, and are always welcoming of new, willing volunteers.

"The group first started back in 2012 with Canal and River Trust project officer, Emma Bartlett," said Alice Kay, Volunteering Development Coordinator (North West) for the Canal and River Trust. "It's continued ever since and many of the team have been coming along since the group first began.

"The aim of the Towpath Taskforce is to improve the canal in Burnley making it a more enjoyable space for the local community," Alice added. "There is a core group of around 10 volunteers that regularly attend the group, but many others have attended, coming when they are able.


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"The team are always enthusiastic and are an amazing bunch that will come out rain or shine to improve the canal in Burnley."

Those wishing to volunteer themselves can find more information at, and Alice - who has found traffic cones and lawn rollers in the canals among more conventional debris - has a clear message for any previous offenders.

"Please stop fly-tipping in our canal!" she said. "Volunteers spend hours of their time clearing rubbish, bottles, plastic bags, and dog poo bags from the towpath when people could easily take it away with them.

"The larger items like trolleys and tyres can cause massive amounts of damage to boats as they travel along the canal," she continued.