Protected Yorkshire beach found to contain large amounts of litter

Runswick BayRunswick Bay
Runswick Bay | jpimedia
A Yorkshire beach has some of the worst levels of coastal littering in the country - despite being a designated Marine Conservation Zone.

Runswick Bay, near Whitby, ranked 27th out of 112 protected areas in the UK which were studied as part of research by the Marine Conservation Society for the density of litter recorded there.

The Special Areas of Conservation at Flamborough Head and the Humber Estuary were also included in the survey.

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The research found that the amount of litter found at beaches within protected zones was no less than that recorded outside of the conservation areas.

Plastic was the main form of litter found, and 'public littering' the most common identifiable source.

There were regional differences in the type of items found, which ranged from fishing detritus to sewage emanating from nearby river estuaries

The work was carried out by the University of Exeter, Natural England and the Marine Conservation Society.

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Dr Sarah Nelms from the university said:- "Our work has found that marine protected areas, which often contain sensitive marine habitats and species, are exposed to litter much in the same way as non-protected sites.

"Marine protected areas have no physical boundaries so, to protect them from any potential impacts of litter, we need to take a whole-system approach and reduce the overall amount of litter being released into the environment.

"We also need a co-ordinated approach that considers local nuances, tackling sources of litter that cause specific problems in certain areas."

The study used 25 years of beach clean data collected by Marine Conservation Society volunteers.

It has been published in the academic journal Environmental Pollution.