East Anglian beaches blighted by litter

Discarded crisp packets, pieces of fishing net and plastic bottles were among the tonnes of litter removed from beaches around Norfolk and Suffolk last year.

Discarded crisp packets, pieces of fishing net and plastic bottles were among the tonnes of litter removed from beaches around Norfolk and Suffolk last year.

As the region prepares for what looks set to be a bumper UK holiday season, new figures have shown that volunteers removed three tonnes of rubbish from beaches in Suffolk on just a few days last year and more than 60 tonnes of litter was cleared up from beaches and promenades in north Norfolk.

North Norfolk District Council has staff keeping beaches in Cromer, Sheringham, Mundesley, Sea Palling, Overstrand and East and West Runton clean every day from March to September.

Between spring 2008 and 2009, the council's team cleared 61.3 tonnes of beach waste, including rubbish from promenade bins, and 11 tonnes has already been cleared up in April and May this year.

In Suffolk, volunteers collected a record 3,160kg of litter from beaches in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) while taking part in the Marine Conservation Society's organised beach clean days.

Sixty two surveys were carried out on 37 beaches in Suffolk last year and in total, volunteers collected 75,000 pieces of litter - an average of 1,312 items for every kilometre of coastline.

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Nick Collinson, manager of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB unit, said that people using the beach need to make sure that they take their own rubbish home.

He said: 'The results reveal the sheer scale of the litter problem on our beaches, as well as highlighting the outstanding commitment of the volunteers carrying out the clean-up work.

'As a further measure to tackle these issues, we will be launching out new volunteer coastal warden scheme this summer to encourage responsible behaviour on our coast.'

No specific figures for other beaches in Norfolk have been made available, but statistics for the South East of England show that 118,009 items were collected from 114 beaches last year, of which 41.5pc was public waste, including plastic bottles and sweet and crisp packets.

Lowestoft's Blue Flag beach is cleaned twice daily during the summer, as is the beach further down the coast in Southwold. Gunton and Kessingland beaches are cleaned monthly in the winter and once a week in the peak season.

Mike Daniels, Waveney Norse's cleansing service manager, said: 'All our areas are cleaned to blue flag standards by our trained staff, as we realise the importance to the area regarding the tourism aspects and tailor our cleansing frequencies and resources to this.'

A spokesman for Yarmouth Borough Council's services team, GYB services, said that seasonal staff clean the beaches in Yarmouth and Gorleston daily in the summer.

In the west of the county, Hunstanton's main bathing beach has just been awarded a prestigious Quality Coast Award for the second time, praising the resort's work on water quality, littering, visitor facilities and beach safety.

Two thirds of Britons holiday abroad because our own beaches are in such a poor state, a survey published today has revealed.

A survey of 2,000 people has shown that 92pc would visit our coastline more often if it was cleaner and better maintained.

The figures, released as part of Corona beer's Save the Beach campaign, named Blackpool as the most unpopular British beach, with Cornwall's golden sands being the most popular.

Corona are asking people to nominate a dirty beach which is in need of rescue and experts from the Foundation for Environmental Education will then select the worst beach and run an environmental clean-up.

Corona Save the Beach campaign spokesman Alexandra Cousteau said: 'Human indifference is the greatest threat to our coastline. Every one of us has the chance to make a change which is beneficial to our beaches.