Northumberland County Council is urging people to help protect the county’s iconic coastline by reducing litter and keeping the beaches clean.
As the weather gets warmer and beach barbecues and picnics become increasingly popular, the council is encouraging visitors to act responsibly to make sure all litter is either binned or taken home, leaving the beaches unspoilt and safe.
The initiative is part of the Love Northumberland, Hate Litter campaign, which is a drive to clean up the county and crack down on litter louts.
Adopting the three ‘e’s approach – education, engagement and enforcement – the campaign aims to raise awareness of the problems associated with littering and works proactively with schools and businesses to mark positive action.
Lending their support to the campaign, pupils from Seahouses Middle School braved the rain last week to take part in a litter pick on St Aidan’s beach, organised by the National Trust.
The Year 5 class, led by teacher Miss Carr, have been working with both Northumberland County Council and the National Trust to learn about littering, the dangers this imposes on our environment and what can be done to prevent the problem.
Among the many items the children removed from the beach were plastic bottles and bags which can take more than 450 years to biodegrade, hundreds of cotton buds which entered the ocean after being flushed down toilets and small plastic pellets, often consumed by marine wildlife and known to environmentalists as mermaids’ tears.
Jane Lancaster, coastal ranger for the National Trust - which manages more than 12 miles of Northumberland’s coastline - said: "We welcome the council’s campaign against litter and appreciate every item of rubbish that is collected by schoolchildren, local residents and visitors. I would especially like to thank class 5c from Seahouses Middle School for all their support.
"Much of Northumberland's coast is rich in wildlife and areas such as the Farne Islands provide breeding grounds for many rare species of birds and animals. Litter poses a significant risk to wildlife and it is our duty to limit the impact we have on our environment as much as possible."
The effects of littering include harm to the environment, a threat to public health, and the huge cost to the tax payer of cleaning up public spaces. Litter is also unsightly and has a negative impact on the tourism industry.
With an increase in numbers to Northumberland's beaches during the summer months, it becomes even harder to maintain their usual high standard, with not all visitors leaving them as they found them.
Coun John Woodman, chairman of the Area of Outstanding National Beauty Partnership, said: "We want people to enjoy themselves and make the most of the county’s spectacular beaches - but to act responsibly by taking home or binning their litter to ensure the safety and the maintenance of our beautiful unspoilt coastline.
"It is great to see children from Seahouses Middle School working in partnership with Northumberland County Council and the National Trust to support this anti-litter campaign, especially given the weather. I hope that people are inspired by their good work and follow their lead in helping to keep our beaches clean and safe for everyone."