A MAJOR river is officially plastic-free as its 2.5km-long liner has been removed in its entirety.

West Cumbria Rivers Trust is currently undertaking a £1.5 million project to restore the riverbed of the River Keekle, flowing through Whitehaven to Cleator.

And with the plastic liner finally out of the way, work to provide a habitat for freshwater wildlife can begin.

Luke Bryant, project manager at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “The river is looking fantastic.

"In the last four weeks we’ve had several high rainfall events causing very high flows to cascade down the newly restored river.

"The new features have coped brilliantly, which is testament to the team’s design and implementation of the project.

“The site is also recovering quickly – we’re seeing vegetation growing back nicely on the riverbanks."

About 120 tonnes of plastic has been removed from the river, with high hopes for it all to be recycled by the end of the project.

Mr Bryant continued: "We’re really looking forward to future surveys where we’ll be able to assess the number of fish in the river.”

West Cumbria Rivers Trust added a word of thanks to its project partners and supporters, including; the Environment Agency, DEFRA, Natural England, principal contractor OpenSpace, AECOM, AquaUoS, the Rivers Trust, Esmee Fairbairn and United Utilities.