Litter survey reveals spike in rubbish collected from Suffolk and Essex beaches

A survey by the Marine Conservation Society has revealed a 13% increase in litter dropped on England

A survey by the Marine Conservation Society has revealed a 13% increase in litter dropped on England's beaches (stock image). Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

With Suffolk and Essex’s coastlines bringing in hundreds of millions a year in tourism, a shocking new report has revealed litter levels on England’s beaches have increased 13% on last year.

In September, almost 7,000 volunteers took part in the Great British Beach Clean, the UK’s largest beach survey and clean up event organised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

Volunteers recorded how many bags of rubbish they had filled, how much they weighed and how many individual items were picked up to paint a picture of the state of the nation’s beaches.

In Suffolk, 449kg of litter was collected from 22 100m stretches of beach - with volunteers clearing an average of 422 items of litter per 100m of coastline.

In Essex, 114kg of rubbish was collected from five stretches, with an average of 2,552 pieces of litter per 100m.

England saw an overall rise in litter of 13%, with an average of 911 items collected per 100m of beach.

Suffolk and Essex’s coastlines are a key part of their economies, bringing in millions in tourism and business each year.

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A spokesman for Visit Suffolk said: “Major tourism industries are often built around successful seaside destinations, attracting visitors all-year-round.

“Anything to damage the fauna and flora of the area will not only have a detrimental effect on coastal ecosystems, it will also impact on the attractiveness of the destination.

“The value of tourism for the Suffolk coast area is estimated to be worth £606 million, up 2.3% on last year, so we need to ensure all beaches are litter-free and the county’s coastal destinations remain attractive in order to compete at a national and international level for that all important tourism spend.”

A spokesman for Visit Essex added: “The main motivation for people coming to Essex is to come to the coast, so our beaches are hugely important to tourism.

“We have some wonderful beaches that are all unique and special in their own way.

“Having the second longest coastline in the country we attract visitors from far and wide as well as encouraging local people to enjoy the area they live in.”

A Essex County Council spokesman said during the summer beaches were litter picked at least once a day and at least once a week in the winter.

The organiser of the Suffolk litter-picks said it is ‘absolutely crucial’ we keep the region’s beaches clean,

Lynn Allen, countryside officer at the Coast and Heath Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said: “One factor is the impact it has on tourism, people do not want to go to a beach and see lots of litter.

“There is also the impact of plastics on our oceans, wildlife and fishing.

“Our beaches are such a valuable asset. It is absolutely crucial we keep them clean.”

She said she was delighted by the number of people who turned up to help out with September’s beach clean.

As a result of the litter survey, the Marine Conservation Society is campaigning for a levy on single- use plastic items such as straws, cups, stirrers and cutlery to reduce the amount of rubbish on the nation’s beaches.

If you would like to get involved in the next round of litter picks on Suffolk beaches call Lynn Allen on 01394 445225.

See more about the Marine Conservation Society’s appeal on their website.