Call for surveyors to count litter on Northumberland beaches

Volunteers collecting beach litter at Berwick. Picture by Anna Chouler
Volunteers collecting beach litter at Berwick. Picture by Anna Chouler

A year-long litter-surveying project aims to find out how big a problem beach rubbish is in north Northumberland, but volunteers are needed.

A grant from the Local Environmental Action Fund (LEAF) at the Community Foundation has enabled the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership to recruit and train volunteers to carry out a year-long beach litter survey on all of the beaches in the area.

The project aims to survey every beach between Berwick and Amble at least four times per year. The results will then be analysed and a report produced with an action plan to tackle the problem.

Iain Robson, the AONB Partnership’s access and natural environment officer, said: “This survey is a repeat of a beach litter project we did in 2007. We are using the same methodology so this should give us an accurate picture of whether there is more or less litter on the beach than there was 10 years ago.

“We will also find out if certain items have increased or decreased. For example, we would expect to find fewer plastic bags since the carrier-bag tax, but we might find more plastic bottles as their use has increased.”

The project will be delivered by Coast Care, which has organised two training sessions for those wishing to help with beach clean-up events and litter surveys: Tuesday, 7pm, Seahouses Hub; Thursday, November 30, 7pm, Boulmer Memorial Hall. Call Laura Shearer on 07813 563084 or email laura@coast-care.co.uk
Coun Jeff Watson, chairman of the AONB Partnership, said: “Lots of effort goes into cleaning rubbish off the beach, which is great, but we should also be tackling it at source, before it even gets onto the beach. We can only do this if we know where it is coming from.”

Funding was provided through LEAF, a collaboration between the Community Foundation, Shears Foundation, Greggs Foundation and individual and corporate donors such as Muckle LLP.

The latter has supported LEAF since its inception and has donated £2,000 specifically to aid this project.

Andrew Davison, Muckle LLP partner, is chairman of the its Let’s Think Green Team, set up to help reduce the firm’s carbon emissions and improve the local environment.

“Each year we review our carbon footprint, calculate the cost of our emissions and, through LEAF, donate that value to North-East projects dedicated to improving the environment,” he said. “This year, Muckle LLP’s employees voted to support this project and we are delighted that our donation will be used to improve the beaches of Northumberland almost instantly.

“Crucially, this work will make a lasting difference in helping to tackle the causes of waste in our seas and on our beaches, and we are immensely grateful to the organisers and volunteers who will devote their time to these valuable clean-up and survey exercises.”