Mary with pupils from St Thomas More Belmont talking about River pollution
Mary with pupils from St Thomas More Belmont talking about River pollution

Mary has today raised the worrying and unsightly levels of pollution and rubbish in the River Wear in City of Durham. Mary brought the issue to the House of Commons after Year 5 and 6 pupils at St Thomas More Roman Catholic Primary School in Belmont wrote to her about their concerns.  

After a fieldtrip to the riverbanks in the city, pupils raised serious concerns from plastic pollution, litter and general state of the River Wear and the dangerous consequences this may have for pets and wildlife such as ducks, swans and fish. Pupils added they feared this mess would make the city “ugly” and put off visitors coming to Durham.  

Speaking at Questions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Mary said:

Following their field trip to the River Wear last month Year 5 and 6 pupils at St Thomas More School in Belmont were saddened by the levels of pollution in the River Wear, especially the amount of plastic – so they’ve asked me to come here today “to keep everyone on the right track”! 

So can the minister tell the pupils of St Thomas More school, what the Government plans to do to help clean up the River Wear in order to protect local wildlife and preserve the beauty of the riverside?” 

Responding to the question, the Government’s junior Minister Rebecca Pow MP commended the school’s youngsters for going out and adding that

“It’s wonderful to get our children out in the environment and obviously interesting and perhaps disappointing that they found pollution. But the message to them is “this Government is absolutely on river and water pollution” and indeed our new proposed targets to reduce the amount of pollution in rivers such as the Wear, in old, abandoned mining areas, by 50% by 2030 will make a genuine difference as well as the raft of our other measures to tackle storm sewage overflows.” 

The Headteacher of the School, Tom Hunt, was quick to praise his eco-minded pupils for taking their concerns to the very top, stating: 

“I am so proud of our amazing children for voicing their concerns about pollution in the River Wear. A fieldwork study they undertook inspired them to act and write to Mary, who has championed their cause and has proved to them that their voices have been heard. I would like to thank Mary and the children’s Class Teacher, Kirsty Dearden, for inspiring our children to act on their concerns. “ 

Speaking after the debate Mary Kelly Foy MP added her own praise:

I’m very grateful to the pupils at St Thomas More for raising these important issues, which I know are shared by many other residents in the City of Durham. After raising this in Parliament, I will now be taking their concerns to Durham County Council and the Environment Agency so that action can be taken to improve our riverside.  

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