Litter pickers head to the coast to protect region’s wildlife

Volunteers clean up South Landing, Flamborough
Volunteers clean up South Landing, Flamborough
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VOLUNTEERS took to the idyllic coast of East Yorkshire in an effort to rid its beaches of potentially harmful waste and debris.

Plastic bottles, fishing line, bags and heaps of smaller more dangerous fragments were collected from South Landing at Flamborough during a regular clean of the beach, organised by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Kate and Isabelle Locker deal with a washed-up luggage strap.

Kate and Isabelle Locker deal with a washed-up luggage strap.

Sunday’s litter pick came as The Yorkshire Post is encouraging its readers to take action to tackle the county’s litter blight with the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign.

Clearing the region’s streets and roads costs Yorkshire councils £77m - with charities and groups adding many more resources in a bid to clean up after litter louts.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s general manager at the Living Sea Centre’s at North Landing, Anthony Hurd, who organised the litter pick, said the groups’ efforts had a real impact.

“We find a variety of things, but the smaller pieces of plastic can be ingested by marine animals,” he said.

The volunteers

The volunteers

“As the pieces get smaller and smaller, things like seabirds and seals eat them.”

A 100 metre-long stretch of the beach was combed for individual pieces of rubbish, which were collected, recorded and categorised in attempt to gauge the problem.

Mr Hurd said: “Over this stretch of beach we collected 230 items of litter. Of these items 64 per cent were made of plastic.

“The most abundant item of litter found on the 100m stretch were 46 plastic pieces less than 2.5cm, closely followed by 32 pieces of polystyrene.

“But we have also found things like fishing lines, nets and trapping bands. They can become wrapped around seals when they are pups and can cause a lot of damage as they grow.”

The data allows an understanding of whether litter is increasing or decreasing at a basic level but also points out trends or peaks in specific kinds of litter. This can then inform future targeted campaigns or projects such as the Trust’s recently launched Fishing for Litter Campaign, designed to encourage fishermen to remove any litter they come across and raise awareness of the problems that marine litter causes for their industry.

In 2014, nearly 6,000 pieces of litter were collected from South Landing alone.

Last year’s worst recorded ‘grot-spots’ along the North and East Yorkshire coasts were Reighton Sands, between Filey and Bridlington, where around 10,000 pieces of litter recorded. Scarborough’s South Bay followed close behind with 8,00 pieces.

The Trust also held the events at beaches in Filey, Hornsea, Sandsend, Mappleton, Spurn, Flamborough’s North Landing, Runswick Bay and Sewerby Bay.

Of the 11 spots cleaned last year, volunteers scoured 3,415 metres of beach and collected 207 bags of rubbish. The total number of individual pieces of rubbish collected was 13,324, equating to 3,902 items found in every kilometre cleaned.

A further beach clean has been organised by the Trust at Filey on Sunday July 5. Volunteers will meet at the bottom of Martin’s Ravine.

A beach clean and litter art day will also take place at Flamborough’s South Landing on Monday July 27 at 10am. Booking is essential.

A report on the Trust’s Fishing for Litter campaign will feature on the Countryfile this Sunday at 7pm on BBC 1 as part of an East Yorkshire-focused episode.

Elsewhere in the region, piles of litter have been cleared from the streets of Leeds as part of the Clean Up Yorkshire campaign - but we still need you to get involved.

Volunteers across Yorkshire’s biggest city have responded to our call to take action and organise community clean-ups throughout this month.

In Tadcaster, six members of Tadcaster Litter Collectors spent two hours cleaning the main street on Sunday, where the majority of rubbish was cigarette ends. David March, one of the volunteers, said: “We have regular litter picks and are hoping to hold the next one in two weeks. We hope to see even more volunteers on the next one as, obviously, the more people who muck in, the bigger difference we can make.”

Elsewhere across Leeds, Newton Futures held a “highly successful” litter pick in Chapeltown, collecting more than ten bags of rubbish. The group of ten neighbours have been collecting rubbish on a regular basis, with the support of Leeds Council, which provides picking tools and bags, for five or six years. Organiser Sue Ball said: “New neighbours joined in, and together we got the job done.”

The campaign is also continuing to gather pace as more and more groups get involved.

Wyke Beck Valley Friends Association, a group of volunteers who regularly litter pick from Roundhay Park to Temple Newsam following the beck, are planning a collection on Friday June 19.

It will start at 10am and they are meeting at Arthur’s Rein just off Easterly Road where they will be clearing the beck with the help of a local ranger.

In Wakefield, Pinders Heath Residents Association will be collecting next Wednesday, June 21. Meet at 10am on the communal green on the estate.

If you want to get involved in Clean Up Yorkshire, tell us about your plans, send us pictures and don’t forget to let us know how it went.

Email or tweet using the hashtag #cleanupyorks