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From Solway beach to the BBC One Show

Silloth West Beach

[B]BC’s One Show has asked a local volunteer group to send beach rubbish to London for the programme on Monday 16th April at 7pm. The plan is to show a pile of plastic trash to Michael Gove, the Environment Minister, plus recycling experts and to quiz them on how to reduce plastic waste in future.

Volunteers from Fix the Firth are the people who will gather the beach rubbish from Cumbria’s Solway coast. Organiser John Gorrill comments, ‘I have promised the show’s producer four bulk bags of plastic trash and that’s what she’ll get: nylon ropes, fishing net, bottles, bottle tops, broken buckets, toys and even a vinyl car seat from Silloth beach last Thursday.’ The bags will travel to London by truck provided by waste company Veolia.

Most people assume that bottles and cans are the most common litter on beaches. They are present, but the biggest and heaviest items come from the fishing and shipping industries. For example, plastic barrels which have held fuel, engine oil or hydraulic fluid, plastic and polystyrene fish crates, large tangles and short offcuts of rope plus broken buoys, marker flags, lobster pots and net.

Fix the Firth volunteers at work on Silloth West Beach last Thursday, 29th March

Volunteers have also found pollution apparently released by the sewage treatment industry: tiny plastic rods from cotton buds, sanitary pads, wet wipes and even used syringes. ‘I think they’ve been flushed down the loo and somehow got past the filters in wastewater treatment plants,’ explains organiser John. ‘The vast number of these things points to an industrial failure rather than to litter-louts. Who uses a thousand cotton buds on a beach?’

There are three beach cleans before the rubbish leaves Silloth for London. On Saturday 7th April from 10am to midday Fix the Firth volunteers will clear Allonby’s north beach, starting from the car park beside the B5300 coast road just within the village’s 30mph zone. On Tuesday 10th April from 10am to midday the group will clean Allonby’s south beach, starting from the car park beside the B5300 coast road and opposite the large church. The final chance to send a message to Michael Gove will be at Crosscanonby beach on Saturday 14th April from 1.30 to 3.30pm.

New volunteers are welcome, as are children with a responsible adult. Dogs are also welcome. All equipment is provided, though wellies and waterproofs are advisable in case of bad weather. More details from the organiser [email protected], from Cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk What’s On pages or Lovemybeach.org Volunteering calendar of events.

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