Shock at scale of plastic waste affecting farm

Published date

Roydon Lea Farm in Harlow has been seriously blighted by a monumental increase in plastic and dog fouling waste being dumped into Canons Brook.

The farm, which neighbours the Canons Brook golf course has seen the brook burst its banks several times in recent years due to the abnormally high rain fall. This has meant that large amounts of plastic and dog waste has settled on the farmland which is used to graze cattle.

Harlow Council is appealing to those responsible to stop dumping plastic and other waste into the town’s watercourses and rivers due to the impact it has on the environment and wildlife. People’s lazy and shocking waste habits are having serious implications on the town’s wildlife.

Councillor Nicky Purse, Portfolio Holder for the Environment and the Leader of Harlow Council, Councillor Russell Perrin, recently visited the farm to see the scale of the pollution and were shocked with what they witnessed. The council has reported the pollution to the Environment Agency who are investigating.

The scale of the problem 

Councillor Nicky Purse said:

“The shock and pure disappointment hit me as I opened the pictures of the pollution in Canons Brook. I replied within seconds to Susan, Matthew and Chris who have farmed the land all their lives and I alerted the Environmental Agency. Within days I was visiting Roydon Lea farm with the Environment Agency. It was clear from the moment I set eyes on the pollution of the brook this was massive. After spending time with the family who have lived and worked on the farm for almost 100 years; it has been heart wrenching to hear how the pollution is putting their life’s work and their cattle in peril.

“If the horror of the plastic pollution wasn’t enough then there’s Neosporosis, Sarcocystosis both of which comes from dog faeces which has travelled downstream to the farm. The details of the effects caused by parasites which is passed to cows and sheep is truly horrifying. It is something that horror films are made off.”

Councillor Russell Perrin, added:

“The problem with the plastic waste and in particular the dog waste bags, apart from the obvious, is that cattle it appears are attracted to eating plastic like a moth is attracted to a flame. This means that the cattle ingest dog faeces which is laden with the toxic pathogen Neospora. The pathogen causes severe deformity in unborn calves which does not become apparent until the cow reaches the end of pregnancy. In most cases the calf is so badly deformed that the cow cannot give birth naturally and so a caesarean is required to remove the dead calf. Worse still the cows muscles are usually so weak that the stitching from the caesarean does not hold and the cow has to be destroyed.

“Why anyone would go through the effort to pick up dog poo in a plastic bag only to throw it in a river is beyond me. My message to any member of the public that thinks it’s a good idea to chuck their waste in a river is think again, you are throwing a highly toxic substance into water which is literally killing wildlife. Put it in a bin, it’s not that difficult.”