Pollution 'increasing along UK coastline'

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BEACHES and coasts are more litter-strewn and polluted than they were last year, according to a major survey published today.

The Norwich Union Coastwatch UK survey has found an 'alarming decline' in coastal cleanliness. Almost half the 2,185 kilometres (1,357 miles) of coastline surveyed by more than 6,000 volunteers showed evidence of litter and pollution, organisers said.

Thirteen of the 16 litter catagories showed an increase on previous years. An average of 28 plastic bottles per kilometre were found in Wales and the South-east, 27 cans per kilometre lay on Scottish beaches, along with 38 items of sanitary waste from sewage. Other common items were cans and six-pack beer holders.

Gareth Rees, Coastwatch's co-ordinator, said it was the fourth year running the survey showed a deterioration, and called on the Government and regulatory bodies to act. 'We cannot allow the state of the coastline to be increasingly compromised,' he said.

Volunteers each studied a five-kilometre stretch of coastline at half-kilometre intervals and recorded 170,000 pieces of litter.

Different regions had varied amounts and types of litter. 'We don't know why pollution varies so much from region to region,' Kathy Pond, of Coastwatch, said. 'We have sent the report to the responsible local authorities. It's their job to sort it out.'