Beach clean-up yields two skips full of rubbish

More than two skips of marine litter were collected during a beach clean from Cairndoon to Calymoddie in Dumfries and Galloway.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) helped clear rural beach of piles of marine litter to mark the Great British Beach Clean weekend

Last week, as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Great British Beach Clean, a team of volunteers from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage, alongside Colin Smyth MSP, cleared the beach of litter from Cairndoon to Claymoddie with local beach cleaning volunteers, businesses and farmers, collecting valuable data on what is polluting the Scottish coastline.

A team of volunteers from the environmental organisations and the local area came together to clean the beach and support MCS’ ongoing mission to clear the UK’s beaches of plastic pollution and marine litter.

Volunteers from SEPA and the Solway Firth Partnership took two hours to complete the survey, giving a snapshot of what the litter on the beach was made up of.

The other 26 volunteers collected mountains of litter which filled at least two large skips donated by Dumfries and Galloway council. From fish boxes and rope to 90 single use plastic bottles, the data shows that everybody has a part to play in stopping the plastic tide. In total, 728 litter items were collected across the 10 metre survey stretch of beach, weighing in at a staggering 121.5kg.

Anne Connick, catchment planning officer from SEPA and organiser of the beach clean, said: ‘It was great to see so many people taking part in the Great British Beach Clean this weekend who are all so passionate about keeping pollution from our oceans and litter from our beaches.

‘We can achieve so much if we all work together, and these events are a practical way for anyone to get involved and help protect and enhance our natural environment.’

Huw Connick, managing director of Connicks said: ‘It is vitally important for businesses large and small to play their part to protect the environment, including tackling the global waste issue, particularly plastics. That’s why our team volunteered our time and equipment to help MCS and SEPA to help make today a huge success. It was a very rewarding day.’

The invaluable data gathered across the UK over the Great British Beach Clean weekend is used on a local and global level. All the data gathered contributes not only to MCS’ dataset, but also to the records of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC).

The Marine Conservation Society uses the data to support campaigns driving policy and behaviour change which hope to turn the tide on plastic pollution and marine litter.

Catherine Gemmell, MCS Scotland conservation officer said: ‘It was fantastic to see such an effective collaboration between SEPA, the local beach cleaning group ONUS, the landowner, SNH, the Solway Firth Partnership and local business to make such a massive difference to this section of coastline.

‘This event shows exactly what is needed to help tackle these remote and hard to access areas of coastline and the data collected will help shine a light on what so many of our remote communities are facing on our coastline every day.

‘It was great to have local MSP Colin Smyth also join us and we hope that politicians across Scotland will use their voice to raise awareness of the issue and what support is needed to tackle these remote beaches and huge volumes of litter. To stop this plastic tide we really do need everybody from volunteers to corporates to government to get involved and play their part and we hope to see everybody back out next year for the 2020 Year of Coasts and Waters!’

The results of the 26th annual Great British Beach Clean will be shared later this year.

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