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Volunteer call to help national beach clean campaign

By Alan Beresford

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A NATIONWIDE call has gone out for volunteers to help with the annual Great British Beach Clean.

Volunteers are being urged to sign up for this years Great British Beach Clean.
Volunteers are being urged to sign up for this years Great British Beach Clean.

The Marine Conservation Society is holding the event from Friday to Sunday, September 17-26 and is for people to come forward and lend a helping hand.

The UK’s beaches and seas are a haven for an incredible variety of wildlife, which are put at risk by pollution. Animals can get tangled in plastic packaging, become distressed, or mistake pollution such as plastic bags for food. This often proves fatal to them.

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation Officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “So many have found peace and enjoyment at the beach over the last year and with more of us heading to the coast this summer we need as many people as possible to help give something back to our spectacular Scottish shores.

With this year being designated as the Year of Coast and Waters we look forward to seeing locals and visitors enjoying Scotland’s world class beaches while looking after them at the same time.”

The Great British Beach Clean, supported by funding from People’s Postcode Lottery, is more than just a clean up. Every year volunteers make note of the litter they collect, sharing the data with the Marine Conservation Society’s experts. The charity has used data collected to make the case for carrier bag charges across the UK, including the recent increase to 10p in Scotland.

The charity also campaigned for an all-inclusive Deposit Return Scheme, due to start in Scotland in July 2022.

Since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge in Scotland in 2014, the Marine Conservation Society reports a 76 per cent drop in single-use bags found on Scottish beaches. It is hoped that the increase to 10p will cause an even further drop in bags on beaches.

At last year’s Great British Beach Clean, volunteers found an average of 298 items of litter for every 100 metres of Scottish beach cleaned.

Lizzie Prior, Beachwatch Officer at the Marine Conservation Society, commented: “We’re hoping that more volunteers than ever before are beach clean ready this year.

"After having to downsize during lockdown last year, we want to gather as much data as we can to understand the state of pollution on the UK’s shores.”

Logging the impacts on the environment of the pandemic, the charity asked volunteers to note how much PPE equipment, like face masks and gloves, they came across on the coast. Last year, face masks and gloves were found on almost 30 per cent of beaches cleaned by volunteers.

Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for a beach clean this year via the Marine Conservation Society’s website, where more information on the Source to Sea Litter Quest can be found.

For those wanting to play their part ahead of September’s Great British Beach Clean, the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge is running throughout July and offers tips and tricks to reduce everyday single-use plastics, stopping pollution at source. The charity’s Plastic Free Seas appeal is raising money to support beach cleaners doing what they do best, providing equipment to make beach cleaning easier, and training up new volunteers.

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