Tons of waste found on 'scandalous' beaches: Sewage, condoms and tampons defile British coastline

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S beaches are in a 'scandalous' state with tons of sewage, and sanitary items such as condoms and tampons strewn around, according to a report published yesterday.

Mountains of plastic were discovered in a clean-up organised by the Marine Conservation Society and Reader's Digest in which more than 1,200 volunteers scoured 1 per cent of the coastline last September.

The report, Beachwatch 93, said that 33 tons of rubbish were gathered from 121 British beaches. Some 712lbs (323kg) of rubbish, including 163 sanitary towels, were recovered from one beach - Leven in Fife, Scotland.

On a 10.8-mile (17km) stretch of eight beaches in Devon, 294 bags of rubbish weighing more than 5 tons were collected.

Among 101 items found from 28 different countries were a shampoo bottle from Japan, a milk carton from India and part of a ladder from the United States.

A total of 114,880 items was found. Of these, more than 50 per cent were plastics and 11 per cent sewage-related. Sanitary items found included condoms, tampons, panty liners, cotton buds and nappies.

A report in February's Reader's Digest says the dirtiest beaches were Larne Island in Co Antrim, followed by Pegwell Bay in Kent. The best were Welcombe Mouth in Devon, followed by Nato Beach South in Strathclyde.

'The state of our beaches is a national scandal and we are determined to force some action from government and water companies,' said the Reader's Digest editor-in-chief, Russell Twisk.

Cait Loretto, marine science officer for the Marine Conservation Society, said: 'The scale of the littering is unbelievable - and it is technically illegal. I say technically since it appears the legislation we have in place to protect our beaches from littering is ineffectual.'

She said that the Environmental Protection Act 1990 put the onus on local authorities to keep public places clean. The Act also stated that it was illegal to deposit litter in public places, yet 11 per cent of the litter cleared was sewage-related.

'Why can the 10 private water companies discharge litter, in the form of sewage-related debris to sea, down a sewage pipe, in the certain knowledge that it will end up on the beaches, and get away with it?' Ms Loretto asked.

She called for tougher laws, better enforcement and better sewage treatment.

----------------------------------------------------------------- THE BEST ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Welcombe Mouth, Devon 2 Nato Beach South, Strathclyde 3 Lower Largo, Fife 4 Bampool, Cornwall 5 Cremyll, Cornwall 6 Whitestran, Isle Of Man THE WORST 1 Larne Island, Ballycarry, Antrim 2 Pegwell Bay, Kent 3 Hart Warren, Cleveland 4 Sand Bay, Avon 5 Dinas Dinlle, Gwynedd 6 Berrow, Somerset 7 Rossall, Fleetwood, Lancs 8 Cramond, Lothian 9 Hillen, Gower, West Glamorgan 10 Don to ythan, Grampian 11 Mersea Island, Essex 12 Saunton Sands, Devon -----------------------------------------------------------------