Page last updated at 06:42 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Litter on Welsh beaches at record levels, says charity

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Some of the items previously found on the beach at Ogmore-by-Sea include a wig and a set of false teeth

The litter piling up on Welsh beaches is at its highest since surveys began, making them the dirtiest in the UK, an environmental charity claims.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said the rubbish it found on 73 shorelines during its annual Beachwatch study was up 21% on the previous year.

Rubbish included a tractor seat, an air compressor, bunk bed ladder, glow sticks as well as syringes and nappies.

Wales has overtaken Scotland as the UK nation with the dirtiest beaches.

Frankie Hobro organised a survey on Tan-y-foel beach, Anglesey.

She said: "It is quite depressing, even while you are collecting, you know the amount that is still out there."

The MCS said more than 59,000 mostly plastic items of litter were picked up by volunteers in Wales during its Beachwatch survey in September last year.

Map showing amount of litter found on UK beaches

They found an average 3,084 items on every kilometre (0.62 miles) of the record number of beaches surveyed. In 2008, the survey found 2,550 items found per kilometre of Welsh shoreline.

Some 27% of all litter originated from fishing activities, compared to the UK average of 15%. The survey found 1,903 litter items per kilometre of Scottish shoreline.

Only the beaches of south west England were found to be worse than Wales for litter, with 3,269 items per kilometre, although this was down by 30% on the previous year.

Litter projects officer Rachel Bailey said the litter washed up on the beach was "the tip of the iceberg" compared to what was in the water and would affect wildlife.

She said: "It's just shocking how much litter we found. Wales is home to some of our best loved marine wildlife such as birds, seals and porpoises.

"This is litter that entangles animals, they will become entrapped in it and it will cause some serious harm if not death. We need to do something about it."

The MSC said Wales' large coastline did suffer from "global litter," especially from the busy fishing and shipping lanes of the Bristol Channel and Irish Sea.

MSC BEACHWATCH 2009
728 volunteers cleaned a record 73 Welsh beaches
Survey covered 19.2km of shoreline (11.93 miles)
457 bags of rubbish collected
A total of 59,226 items
74.7% of total litter was plastic
Source: Marine Conservation Society

It said the Welsh Assembly Government had not committed to developing a specific marine litter action plan, unlike the UK and Scottish governments and the main UK political parties.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said it was committed to reducing litter and an environmental quality strategy it was consulting on for later this year would engage with the MCS.

She said: "We believe it is unfair and misleading to draw comparisons between the nations of the UK because of the geographical differences.

"There are however similarities between Wales and the south-west of England and both have historically recorded higher than average levels of litter compared with other areas of the UK.

Tourist resorts

"This is because of the prevailing westerly winds and sea currents, which bring the litter on to our beaches."

The MSC began its Beachwatch survey in 1994 and started reporting the results by UK nation in 1996.

The beaches surveyed included popular tourist resorts, rural coastal stretches and nature reserves.

The Beachwatch Big Weekend 2009 litter survey and beach clean up took place over the weekend of the 19-20 September.



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SEE ALSO
Welsh beaches plagued by plastic
10 Apr 08 |  Wales
Your pictures: Beach litter
09 Apr 09 |  In Pictures
French lesson for Welsh beaches
21 Sep 03 |  North West Wales

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