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Birds tangled in plastic motivate volunteers to tidy East Runton beach

The litter found on East Runton beach. Picture: Marc Betts

The litter found on East Runton beach. Picture: Marc Betts

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Birds caught in balloons, fishing lines, polystyrene and plastic.

Alex Segens with a lobster crate he found during the beach clean. Picture: Marc BettsAlex Segens with a lobster crate he found during the beach clean. Picture: Marc Betts

These are just a few examples that are all to common to Will Stewart in his time volunteering to clean the beach at East Runton.

While many were preparing for Fathers’ Day, Mr Stewart and other families from across the county headed down to help tidy the beach.

Mr Stewart, 42, from Old Catton, said: “I have always been around the coast as I am a keen surfer.

“But when I used to walk past rubbish on the beach it would always make my heart ache.

Will Stewart has been volunteering on the beach for the past six months. Picture: Marc BettsWill Stewart has been volunteering on the beach for the past six months. Picture: Marc Betts

“I still see birds tangled in fishing line and I have even seen a bird tangled with balloons.”

More than 20 volunteers made the trip to the beach, near Cromer, on Sunday, June 17 as part of a monthly session to collect plastic, rope and rubbish that has washed up or been left there.

Mr Stewart, a forester, started running the group six months ago, which is organised by the Marine Conservation Society.

He said: “When we first started coming down we would fill up a lot of bags as the area had not been cleaned in a while.

Father and son Peter Croot and Robert Croot took part in the beach clean. Picture: Marc BettsFather and son Peter Croot and Robert Croot took part in the beach clean. Picture: Marc Betts

“Now we are able to keep on top of it with a visit every month to keep it clean.”

Volunteer cleaning groups now work across the Norfolk coastline throughout the year.

“After the showing of Blue Planet Two we saw our numbers double,” Mr Stewart added.

“We were getting around 10 to 15 people but that rose to around 40 and our Mundesley group saw more than 70 one weekend.

Families from across Norfolk came to help clean the beach. Picture: Marc BettsFamilies from across Norfolk came to help clean the beach. Picture: Marc Betts

“It is now about keeping that momentum going.”

A common problem on Norfolk beaches is that birds and fish often mistake plastics, such as polystyrene, for fish eggs which they will then take and feed to their young.

Beach cleans such as the one at East Runton look to change that.

The EDP launched the Big Coast Clean Up campaign earlier this year to tackle the threat of beach litter as the summer tourist season nears.

We are encouraging people to set up their own litter picks or join in those being organised by the Marine Conservation Society.

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