Get Drastic With Plastic: Clean-up crew targets leaking landfill on beach

Some of the waste littering Lynemouth beach. Picture by Jane Hardy
Some of the waste littering Lynemouth beach. Picture by Jane Hardy

A ‘sadly neglected’ stretch of coast, where landfill waste is spilling onto the beach, was the target of a clean-up last week.

Erosion of the cliffside at an old landfill site at Lynemouth means waste is littering the beach.

Get Drastic With Plastic, a Northumberland Gazette environmental campaign.

Get Drastic With Plastic, a Northumberland Gazette environmental campaign.

The River Lyne sub-group of the Northumberland Rivers Catchment Partnership coordinated the clean-up on Friday.

The additional issues at Lynemouth relate to the erosion of the cliffside at an old colliery landfill site, which was subject to a land reclamation by Northumberland County Council in the early 2000s, meaning the local authority is responsible for it.

The council’s countryside and green spaces manager, Mike Jeffrey, said recently: “That landfill site probably comprises hundreds of thousands of tonnes of material, so the prospect of the county council being able to afford to excavate it and remove it from sight is very, very slim. It would cost many, many millions of pounds to do that.

“I think there is a responsibility on us all to try to do something about it. We think the best that’s probably possible here is that we monitor it, we keep an eye on it, we remove the litter on a regular basis, that is falling out of the cliff face onto the beach.

A pair of faded Y-fronts was among the waste collected. Picture by Jane Hardy

A pair of faded Y-fronts was among the waste collected. Picture by Jane Hardy

“We try to prevent as much of that material as possible getting into the sea, but the prospect of being able to remove it all is very slim. If the Government were able to fund us to do it, we would be more than happy to undertake that work.”

Among those helping to clean up the beach on Friday was Jane Hardy, from Alnwick, a marine mammal medic at British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

On her Faceboook page, she posted: ‘I have never seen anything like it before. So much plastic, polystyrene, everything that you basically don’t want in the ocean.

‘I hope that the Government and Northumberland County Council quickly organise a solution otherwise the ocean and the wildlife will suffer our inadequacies’.

Some of the bags of rubbish collected on Lynemouth beach. Picture by Jane Hardy

Some of the bags of rubbish collected on Lynemouth beach. Picture by Jane Hardy

What you can do to help

The Gazette’s Get Drastic with Plastic campaign aims to reduce single-use plastics. A greater awareness and a change in attitudes can reduce plastic waste.

Since the plastic-bag charge began, a reduction of plastic bags has been found on UK coasts. We are seeing further commitment and positive steps from the Government and many companies are committing to changing their packaging. But there some steps we can all take:

1. Buy a refillable water bottle;

2. Buy a reusable coffee cup;

3. Say no to plastic straws;

4. Use paper-stemmed cotton buds;

5. Join a beach clean.