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Threatened barge community tops recycling league

The controversial Downings Roads Moorings community is to receive an award for achieving the highest recycling rate in the borough - 65 per cent - way above the Southwark average of 7.2 per cent.

Deputy Mayor of London Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, is to formally launch the Downings Roads Moorings recycling scheme. Jenny will unveil a plaque to celebrate the successful implementation of an innovative recycling project supported by the Cross River Partnership. The event is organised by the London Community Recycling Network and CRISP (Community Recycling in Southwark Project) in co-operation with the tenants and resident.

"The Downing Road Moorings recycling scheme is a showcase for London" says Jenny Jones. "Anyone who currently throws away fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags and other food waste can get involved in composting and wormeries."

Armin Bobsien of CRISP said: "It's great news that Downings Roads moorings community is leading the way in Southwark's effort to boost recycling rates. Composting and wormeries are under-used in London, and we would like to encourage more home and community composting across the capital."

Downing Roads Moorings, a community of 28 households dwelling on river barges close to Tower Bridge, recycles newspaper, glass and cans in recycling bins provided by the local authority. To maximise recycling rates the residents are using innovative composting equipment such as worm compost bins to turn kitchen and garden waste into compost, which is used to organically fertilise roof gardens, indoor and deck plants. The recycling scheme is one of various steps taken by the residents towards practical solutions for sustainable living in London.

Downings Roads is one of the oldest surviving barge roads in London, dating back to the early part of the 19th century when William Downing established his barge building and repair business.

The moorings are currently the subject of a long-running planning dispute which has pitched residents of the neighbouring riverside apartments into conflict with environmental groups and local politicians. There is a Save the Moorings campaign website.

Other environmental initiatives on Downings Roads Mooring include bird feeders and a bird sanctuary. Over the past two years one resident has rescued, fostered, and returned successfully to the river habitat, various wild birds that have either been injured or orphaned. To date these include several generations of ducks/ducklings and a herring gull. The mooring was awarded first prize in Southwalk Council's Best Community Gardens award last summer, and provides the habitat for a broad range of flora and fauna.

There are currently six garden barges on the mooring, one of which is dedicated to trees including Weeping Ash, Quince, Apple and Ribinia. Bird species on the mooring include cormorants, great crested grebes, mallards, greylags, shags and yellow wagtails.

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