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The Big Coast Clean Up: Campaign launched to rid our beaches of litter

PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:37 26 May 2018

Ajay Tegala on Lowestoft Beach supporting The Big Coast Clean Up.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Ajay Tegala on Lowestoft Beach supporting The Big Coast Clean Up. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Our region’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the country, but too often during the summer they pile up with rubbish from those who don’t properly care for them. Conor Matchett explains why we need to keep our beaches clean this summer...

People enjoying the warm weather along the coast of Southwold.
Kathryn Mudge and Mel Berry messing round on Southwold beach.
Picture: Nick ButcherPeople enjoying the warm weather along the coast of Southwold. Kathryn Mudge and Mel Berry messing round on Southwold beach. Picture: Nick Butcher

The battle to keep Norfolk and Waveney’s beaches free of litter and rubbish has begun following the launch of The Big Coast Clean Up.

Despite having some of the most beautiful beaches in England with seven Blue Flag beaches including Cromer, Hunstanton, and Southwold, every summer litter piles up on our coast.

The new campaign, backed by councillors, the RSPB, the Marine Conservation Society, wildlife TV presenter and naturalist Ajay Tegala and spearheaded by this newspaper, will highlight why our beaches must stay clean over the summer.

Rubbish such as crisp packets, six-pack rings, and food wrappers can cause long-lasting damage to the environment and the animals which live on the coast.

Ajay Tegala on Lowestoft Beach supporting The Big Coast Clean Up.
Picture: Nick ButcherAjay Tegala on Lowestoft Beach supporting The Big Coast Clean Up. Picture: Nick Butcher

Nick Croasdale, manager at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, said litter can sometimes be hidden during high tide as the rubbish is swept back and forth in the sea, making it dangerous to marine animals.

On May 24, a seal which was nursed back to health was released back into the sea by the Sea Life team after he had been found with a discarded air filter wrapped around his neck.

He said: “It’s horrifying to see a seal or any animal ending up being injured and suffering,” said Mr Croasdale.

“The issue is stopping it entering into the water in the first place - people need to be responsible and put their rubbish in the correct place.”

Five rehabilitated seals were released by Sealife Sanctuary staff on the beach at Hunstanton. Picture: Ian BurtFive rehabilitated seals were released by Sealife Sanctuary staff on the beach at Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

Cabinet member at Waveney District Council for tourism and economic development, Michael Ladd, pictured left, who is the Conservative councillor for Southwold and Reydon, also backed the campaign.

He said: “We want people to come and visit our wonderful beaches but also take responsibility and keep them clean by taking their litter home with them.

“We really have to get the message across that we are all in it together when it comes to keeping beaches clean.”

TV presenter and naturalist Ajay Tegala also supported the launch of the campaign. He said: “People want to go to a nice place and with things like TripAdvisor and social media word spreads fast if a place is particularly dirty.

“You get bags and bags of rubbish, but it’s not just the big stuff. The small stuff is the sort of stuff that gets stuck in wildlife’s stomachs, so it is so important to get them up.

“It is our responsibility and we have the power to make that difference.”

Hidden litter in the sea a danger to marine life

Hidden rubbish in the sea on Hunstanton beach has led to animals being severely injured.

Nick Croasdale, manager at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, said litter can sometimes be hidden during high tide as the rubbish is swept back and forth in the sea, making it dangerous to marine animals.

On May 24, a seal which was nursed back to health was released back into the sea by the Sea Life team after he had been found with a discarded air filter wrapped around his neck.

“It’s horrifying to see a seal or any animal ending up being injured and suffering,” said Mr Croasdale. “It’s something that can be so easily avoided.

“The issue is stopping it entering into the water in the first place - people need to be responsible and put their rubbish in the correct place.

“If you take a walk up to Old Hunstanton, where the tide goes halfway up the beach, it’s sometimes shocking how much rubbish there is.”

An ongoing problem

Michelle Duddy is beach watch organiser for the Marine Conservation Society, on Sea Palling, Mundesley, Bacton and Walcott beaches.

She said: “It depends where you go how bad the rubbish problem is. You get a lot of plastic rubbish, polystyrene and wet wipes.

“People flush wet wipes down the toilet and they do end up back in the waterways system.

“As for plastic, people do leave it on beaches, and it can get blown off the land if bins don’t get collected. It can also come from abroad.

“Rubbish on beaches is an ongoing problem that has been going on for a while, but it does vary whichever beach you go to.”

Tourism impact

A dirty beach also impacts one of the most valuable assets to the region, tourism.

In 2016, North Norfolk District Council estimated tourism in the region was worth £490 million to the economy, a number that will only drop if Norfolk’s reputation for superb coastlines suffers further.

A survey from Keep Britain Tidy showing 47pc of people would leave immediately

if they saw litter and dog

mess on a beach, with 29pc saying they would warn others not to visit.

In a warning sign to businesses reliant on trade from tourists visiting for the beach, 82pc of parents admitted to deciding not to go to the coast with their children, with 40pc worried about unclean water and 38pc put off by litter.

Paul Garrod, who owns the Furzedown Hotel in Great Yarmouth and lifeboat

chairman at Caister, said: “It would be very detrimental if people stopped cleaning the beach.

“People ought to be proud of it and people wouldn’t come if it wasn’t as clean as it is.”

RSPB support the campaign

The RSPB expressed its support for the EDP’s The Big Coast Clean Up.

A spokesman for the charity said: “Seabirds are the most threatened group of birds on earth by some margin.

“Marine plastic pollution poses a serious risk to many seabirds that feed either by diving into the water or sitting on the surface to catch prey.

“Birds in the albatross and shearwater family, known as tubenoses, are known to be particularly susceptible to ingesting marine plastic pieces, and individuals have been found dead with stomachs full of small pieces of plastic.

“If we don’t address the problem of marine plastic pollution urgently, we run the risk that many will of these magnificent birds that are already teetering perilously close to extinction will be lunged over the edge.”

In Lowestoft, the RSPB Lowestoft Local Group has been instrumental in protecting a nesting colony of kittiwakes, another seabird, this time in the gull family, both of which feed in the water of our coast.

Marine charity backs campaign

Every year since 1994 the Marine Conservation Society, a national charity dedicated to improving the health of the sea and coast, has organised a nationwide beach clean called Beachwatch.

Launched to bring attention to the problem of marine litter, tens of thousands of volunteers help the charity clean beaches and monitor litter levels.

The charity has backed The Big Coast Clean Up and said: “It’s important that everyone takes responsibility for their own litter and ensures it is always disposed of properly.

“Our beach clean data shows that at least 30pc of litter found on beaches comes from the general public and 70pc of what we find is made of plastic.

“Plastic is a material that never goes away but breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. These items can be accidentally eaten by our marine wildlife.

“We need to cut back on the amount of single-use items we use and start using reusable items such as water bottles and coffee cups.“

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