Blue Planet II prompts record turn-out at Suffolk beach clean, say organisers
PUBLISHED: 14:32 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:08 10 October 2018
The organiser of the Great British Beach Clean in Suffolk says she estimates a record number of people turned out to remove rubbish from the county’s beaches during this year’s event.
The Great British Beach Clean is a national initiative run by the Marine Conservation Society, which takes place from Friday to Monday on the third weekend of September every year, and encourages groups to get out and tidy up their stretch of beach. In Suffolk, efforts are co-ordinated by the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB, and this year - the 25th anniversary of the initiative - activities were led by the AONB’s countryside projects officer Lynn Allen.
“There was fantastic support in Suffolk, with at least 22 teams taking part along our coast and estuaries - from Lowestoft down to Felixstowe,” said Ms Allen.
Across the county, volunteers from local businesses, nature groups and the public sector hit beaches with bin bags and waste pickers and collected approaching a tonne of waste.
They included the 141 volunteers who took part in a beach clean at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Trimley Marshes reserve, where over 560kg of rubbish was removed including over 20kg of hard plastic which is being sent off for recycling. Over 100 people took part in a beach clean organised by Adnams at Southwold while a team from Ipswich cruise holiday operators Fred.Olsen collected over 70kg of rubbish in 90 minutes during a clean-up of a section of foreshore on the River Orwell in front of Priory Park Caravan Park.
Other participants included the Transition Ipswich group who collected along the River Orwell at Orwell Country Park; Felixstowe Rotary Club, which has been taking part for many years; staff and families from Hutchison Ports UK who cleaned the John Bradfield viewing area in Felixstowe, and members of Stutton Parish Council who also did their bit.
Although exact figures aren’t yet available, Ms Allen said she believes the turn-out could be the best ever as people have been spurred to do something after the problem of marine waste was highlighted in the BBC’s landmark series Blue Planet II.
“Since the programme was aired, the interest and enquiries we’ve had has been phenomenal,” she said.
As part of the beach clean, each group must survey and record every item found within a 100 metre-stretch of their beach - this information along with details of how many people took part and the total amount collected is sent to the Marine Conservation Society, which collates the data. Results for this year’s event are due to be published at the end of November.
In the past these findings have been used as evidence to lobby Government for law changes, according to Ms Allen.
She added: “In previous years a high number of plastic bags were picked up and because of this evidence the 5p levy on plastic bags was brought in. We could see the difference it made in just a year.”
Data from beach cleans has also been instrumental in calls for changing the law around cotton buds, so that only cardboard items are allowed and those made from plastic are banned.
The results from the Great British Beach Clean 2017 found a 10% increase in beach litter across the UK compared with the year before with 20% of this waste relating to disposable food and drink litter, such as plastic cutlery and cups, foil wrappers, lolly sticks and drink cans.