Bin it! EDP reporters head to Norfolk coast to clear rubbish as amount of litter on beaches rises
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The beauty of the Norfolk and Suffolk coast is under threat from its admirers themselves, after a shocking report has revealed that litter left on the United Kingdom's beaches has risen by 13pc since 2016.
A staggering average of 911 items of rubbish were left on every 100m of English beach this year, a high proportion of which were plastics and polystyrene pieces which pose a serious danger to marine wildlife.
Reporters from the EDP were sent out to beaches across the region, and returned with results ranging from finds of no litter, to two bags full.
On Great Yarmouth's North Denes beach, rubbish consisted of largely plastic, whilst on Lowestoft's North Beach the finds were often cigarette butts, as well as dog mess.
Along the north Norfolk coast in Cromer, no rubbish was found.
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To combat the rise in litter levels along the coastline, the Marine Conservation Society sends out their 7,000 volunteers every year to carry out the 'Great British Clean' on 339 beaches.
Having analysed their discoveries, the charity is now calling for a crackdown on other items of rubbish they frequently find on beaches by imposing a levy on single-use items which are free of charge.
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These include straws, cups, lids, stirrers and plastic cutlery.
Lizzie Prior, MCS Beach and River Clean project officer, says: 'The 5p single-use carrier bag charge has made a massive difference to the number of plastic bags entering our seas. If a levy was placed on single use plastic we're confident that we'd find fewer of these items on our beaches.'
Other items most commonly found on UK beaches were packets for crisps and sandwiches, glass, and cigarette stubs.
The conservation charity also saw in this year alone, a 94pc increase in the amount of wet wipes left on beaches.
As a result the organisation has run a campaign to urge high street retailers to package their products more clearly, to show that these items cannot be flushed down toilets.
Next year the charity will be celebrating their 25th Great British Beach Clean, which will take place between September 14 and 17.
To get involved, visit www.mscuk.org.Reporter George Ryan's discoveries in Great Yarmouth:
It was plastic (not so) fantastic on the beach near Great Yarmouth.
In just an hour reporter George Ryan managed to fill two large rubbish bags on the beach in the North Denes area of the town.
The litter consisted mainly of what would be described as picnic remnants, with plastic crisp packets and sweet wrappers featuring heavily.
Crisp packets are particularly bad as creatures can crawl inside for shelter, only for them to fill with water.
This danger was demonstrated on the dunes at North Denes when our reporter found a snail drowned in a crisp packet.
A nearby cafe called Munchies has been helping with the effort to clean up the beach by letting tourists take part in a 'two minute beach clean' as part a Keep Britain Tidy Campaign.
The cafe's owner Mark Allen said he also offers free teas and coffees to groups taking part in larger scale beach cleans.
Reporter Ellie Pringle took on the Cromer beach:
Cromer has long been referred to as the 'gem of north Norfolk', and today it proved why, as it bucked the trend of the UK coastline.
Not a piece of rubbish could be seen on the Blue Flag beach on either the East Beach or stretching down towards West Runton and Sheringham.
For this reason the majority of beaches along the north Norfolk coast have been awarded the Blue Flag, making it the district with the highest amount of flags in the country.
To gain a Blue Flag, the local council must shown due diligence in environmental information and education, as well as management, safety, services and water quality.
The cleanliness of the beach could also be thanks to the #2minutebeachclean by the North Norfolk District Council.
The NNDC provides litter pickers and bags along the Cromer promenade, and encourages visitors to snap and share the rubbish they find left on the beach.
And Lowestoft's David Hannant trekked Gunton Cliffs:
A mere hour collecting litter on Lowestoft's easterly shores was enough time to comfortably fill a large bin bag.
Armed with bin liners and a little grabber, our reporter gathered a vast amount of litter from the sands and buried in the grassy dunes of Gunton Cliffs.
The usual suspects figured highly - empty cans of lager and soft drinks, cigarette cans and wrappers from big name fast food restaurants for example - however, this was not all there was to be found.
Other offending items included the broken handle of a child's spade, the packaging of a wind break and the wrapper of a sparkler, all carelessly abandoned following trips to the beach.
There was also an abundance of dog fouling, either left in piles just as they were deposited or even bagged up and buried just beneath the sands - metres from bins for that very purpose.