Cumbria’s beachgoers warned of £1,000 fine for collecting pebbles and seashells

Cumberland Council is cracking down on collectors as part of a new climate strategy

Natalie Wilson
Tuesday 07 May 2024 11:07 BST
The removal of natural matter from UK beaches has been illegal since 1949
The removal of natural matter from UK beaches has been illegal since 1949 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Visitors to Cumbria’s beaches have been warned not to pick up pebbles or risk receiving a £1,000 fine.

Cumberland Council said the aim is to protect the environment and land from coastal erosion as part of a new climate and nature strategy.

Beachgoers who pick up pebbles and seashells on Cumbrian shorelines could be hit with a £1,000 fine according to the Coast Protection Act, 1949.

Councillor Bob Kelly, executive portfolio holder for Cumberland policy and regulatory services, said: “I understand people’s reluctance to follow this guidance, as I have been a collector of shells myself. But taking a pebble or a shell from a beach, can in fact damage the environment.

“Pebbles and other natural matter act as a natural sea defence against coastal erosion, natural flood defences and wildlife habitats which many experts warn has become even more of an issue due to climate change.

“We are asking people to leave the pebbles, shells and sand as we all want to ensure that our beaches remain vibrant and intact for future generations.”

Under section 18 of the Coast Protection Act, it is considered ‘unlawful’ in the UK to take natural materials, including sand, shells and pebbles from public beaches.

Kelly added: “We aim to make Cumberland an exemplar in presenting a clear and comprehensive set of policies and actions that will make a major impact on the fight against climate change, the preservation and extension of biodiversity and the natural environment which we all cherish.”

The local authority is consulting residents using an online survey to help shape the proposed climate strategy for 2024 to 2027 until Monday, 20 May.

In 2018, a man who ‘stole’ pebbles from a Cornish beach was forced to drive hundreds of miles to return them, or face prosecution and a possible £1,000 fine under the act.

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