Category Archives: litter

Fingal’s beach litter shame


By Ciaran MCKEON

Wednesday June 10 2009

SKERRIES Tidy Towns Committee was forced to take the initiative and clean up their beach themselves because the council could not afford to hire a beach clean up crew. The beautiful sunshine over the bank holiday weekend saw locals and tourists flocking to the seaside to bask in the heat. With so many people using the beach there was bound to be rubbish but with no litter cleanup crews recruited this year much of it was left to be swept out to sea and strewn along the shore. Meave McGann of Skerries Tidy Towns said that bins on the beach were overflowing and that locals decided to pick up the rubbish themselves. Ms McGann said that the Government’s underfunding of local councils was to blame.

Skerries Beach left with rubbish strewn all over
it following the busy bank holiday weekend.

‘ The council should be able to employ people to do this job. They can’t run their services unless the Government give them the money they need to do so.

‘In this climate we’ll be looking towards tourism to help us out. The Government should realise that all coastal towns, not just Skerries, could be an asset.’

In Portmarnock there was not a single bin on the beach and the two at the main entrance were soon overflowing.

County councillor and long-time beach advocate, Peter Coyle, said that the council could not ignore the beaches.

‘All beach maintenance cannot be dropped instantaneously. Fingal County Council is losing a lot of credibility at the moment. Portmarnock Beach is the only beach in Fingal that can get a Blue Flag in 2010. It looks like that it will fail because of the lack of litter control.’

Beach sweeping machinery did return to Portmarnock on Tuesday and a crew was working on the grass but unlike last year this will not be a regular service. Ms McGann also urged beach-goers to take everything they can back home with them.

She said that the Tidy Towns committee was also launching a campaign to encourage walkers to pick up litter as they enter and leave the beach.

Fingal’s beaches were already dealt a heavy blow earlier this month when the Environmental Protection Agency reported that four beaches failed the minimum standards for water quality.

– Ciaran MCKEON

Read the original article from the Fingal Independant


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Britain’s beaches fail European hygiene standards

Britain’s beaches fail European hygiene standards
An increasing number of popular swimming spots in the UK have failed to meet European hygiene standards including parts of Lake Windemere, the chic Cornish resort of Rock in Cornwall and Sandgate in Kent.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Published: 6:03PM BST 12 Jun 2009
Britain’s beaches fail European hygiene standards
Rock beach in Cornwall which has failed European hygiene standards Photo: MARTIN POPE

The vast majority of the nation’s favourite coastal areas and inland lakes or rivers meet strict EU bathing water cleanliness standards.

However the heavy rains last summer means that more sewage, litter and chemical run-off from farms was found in the 608 swimming spots assessed last year. Some 24 coastal areas and Millerground Landings in Lake Windermere failed to meet the minimum standard, which means they may not be safe to swim in at certain times of year or in particular areas. This is a rise from the 20 beaches that failed the test in 2007.

The EU does not consider the bathing areas dirty enough to close them down but leaves it up to the local authority or Environment Agency to test the water and advise the public if it is safe to swim.

Most of the UK bathing areas needing improvement were in the South West – Devon and Cornwall – and in Scotland including Portobello in Edinburgh and beaches around Plymouth.

Earlier in the year the Marine Conservation Society recommended just 370 out of 775 of the UK’s most popular bathing beaches in its annual Good Beach Guide, a fall of 17 per cent on last year and the lowest number since 2002.

Keep Britain Tidy have also reported the number of beaches awarded a Blue Flag for overall cleanliness this year fell by 11 to 71 – although that is still an improvement from 2002 when just 45 made the grade.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it is tackling the problem of pollution from sewers by tightening standards to stop leaks. The problem of run off from farms is being dealt with by awarding grants to build fences between livestock and watercourses and controlling use of chemicals.

“We’re working to improve sewerage systems and are aware of the effect heavy rain and flooding can have on our coastal bathing waters” said a spokesman.

The EU carried out tests at more than 21,000 bathing spots around 27 countries last year. The vast majority in favourite holiday spots like Cyprus, France and Spain met EU hygiene requirements with 96 per cent of the total coastal bathing areas and 92 per cent of bathing sites in rivers and lakes up to standard.

UK beaches and inland swimming spots failing to meet minimum EU clean water standards in 2008 were:

Northern Ireland:



Machrihanish (Argyll and Bute),

Saltcoats/Ardrossan (North Ayrshire)

Sandyhills (Dumfries and Galloway)

Portobello Central (Edinburgh)

Rosehearty (Aberdeenshire),

Cruden Bay (Aberdeenshire)




South West:

Seaton (Cornwall)

East Looe (Cornwall)

Rock (Cornwall)

Readymoney (Cornwall)

Porthluney (Cornwall)

Plymouth Hoe East (Devon)

Plymouth Hoe West (Devon)

Exmouth (Devon)

Instow (Devon)

Coombe Martin (Devon)


Allonby (Cumbria)

St Bees (Cumbria)

Aldingham (Cumbria)

Windermere, Millerground landings (Cumbria)

Yorkshire and Humberside:

Staithes (North Yorkshire)

South East:

Sandgate (Kent).

Read the original article from the here


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Travel advice: Beware beach guides

Guides to the best of Britain’s beaches do not necessarily tell the whole story, advises Sophie Butler.

For most of us, the summer wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the seaside. But how can you make sure you choose a beach that isn’t littered and contaminated by polluted water?

You might imagine that the Good Beach Guide 2009, launched by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) earlier this month, would be the answer. But it doesn’t give the whole picture.

What it does give you is information about the seawater. It includes details of its water testing for more than 770 beaches in the UK, listing the top 370 beaches that pass the EC’s most stringent “guideline” water tests, those that pass the less demanding “mandatory” levels; it also names 78 blacklisted beaches where the water fails the minimum legal standards.

But it doesn’t tell you how clean the sand is, how well managed the beach facilities are, whether the dog ban is effective, litter is picked up, swimming and watersports are properly zoned or the lifeguards are doing a good job.

Thomas Bell, of the MCS, defends the guide. He says: “The beaches we recommend are good from the MCS’s point of view and the purpose of the guide has always been foremost about promoting and campaigning for better bathing water quality.”

The truth is that there’s no single award scheme that tells you all you might want to know about a beach. However, below are details of the schemes that will be operating around our coast this summer and what they tell us.
2009 Beach Award Schemes

MCS Recommended Beach ( Gives details of water quality and sewage discharges at resort and rural beaches. You can read the full list on our website at

Blue Flag ( European-wide scheme indicating large, well-managed resort beaches where water reaches the highest guideline standard.

Quality Coast Award ( Launched by Keep Britain Tidy to pinpoint smaller resorts with good facilities, or larger resorts where water quality passes minimum required standards but not the higher levels demanded by Blue Flag.

Seaside Award ( Run by Keep Scotland Beautiful and divided into Resort and Rural categories. Beaches must be well-managed and meet the lowest water standards.

Green Coast Award ( Operated by Keep Wales Tidy and highlights the country’s quiet, less-developed beaches where water quality passes the highest EC water standards.

Read the original article from the Telegraph

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Butts of Maui’s Beaches

I found this article at The Surfers Path, and whilst it’s not  directly Europe or UK news, as the author points out, this problem is worldwide.

“This mail came in from regular reader Beau Ewan. The project is on Maui, but the problem is worldwide:

“A former 5th grade student of mine, Teak McAfee, approached me about wanting to rid Maui’s beaches of cigarette butts, which are a dangerous threat to Maui’s delicate coastal habitat. Together, we’ve been building this website, and Teak wants to continue to lobby for this cause until there is a reduction of cigarette butts on our beaches. Her first course of action is to get as many signatures as possible on her online petition. If you support her cause, please sign the petition and spread the word.”

Here’s Teak’s mission statement: “Maui’s coastline and marine life continue to face alarming destruction from the careless littering of cigarette butts on our prized beaches; especially since the 2006 statewide indoor smoking ban brought smokers out of the restaurants and onto our once pristine beaches. Please help us in saving our exclusive beaches and precious marine creatures that continue to suffer from this growing problem.”

Here’s a link to Teak’s BOMB website: To sign her petition, go here:

Some facts about cigarette butts and beaches:

• Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world.

• Over two billion cigarette butts get tossed everyday. That’s an average of two cigarette butts daily from each of earth’s 1.2 billion smokers.

• At beach cleanups, cigarette butts are the most common form of trash found (typically accounting for one in every five items collected).

• The cigarette filter was designed to trap the toxic chemicals in the cigarette smoke from entering the smoker’s body. When submerged in water, the toxic chemicals trapped in the filter leak out into aquatic ecosystems, threatening the quality of the water and many forms of aquatic life.

• Cigarette butts may seem small, but with an estimated 4.5 trillion butts (worldwide) littered every year, the toxic chemicals add up!

• Over 99% of cigarettes are now smoked outside.

• 18% of all litter dropped to the ground is washed into streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean by storm water runoff. Cigarette butts, are little and lightweight and are the first to get carried away into our waterways.

• Studies indicate that since we have enacted indoor smoking bans, more cigarette butts are being tossed directly into the environment. Unfortunately, this means that ecosystems have a higher chance of being affected by cigarette butts. Biologists have found butts in the stomachs of young birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures.


Benzo[a]pyrene: found in coal tar and cigarette smoke and it is one of the most potent cancer causing chemical in the world.

Arsenic: Deadly poison that causes diarrhea, cramps, anemia, paralysis and malignant skin tumors. It is used in pesticides.

Acetone: It’s one of the active ingredients in nail polish remover.

Lead: Lead poisoning stunts growth, causes vomiting, and causes brain damage.

Formaldehyde: causes cancer, can damage lungs, skin, and digestive systems. Embalmers use it to preserve dead bodies.

Toluene: highly toxic, commonly use as an ingredient in paint thinner.

Butane: highly flammable butane is one of the key components in gasoline.

Cadmium: cause damage to the liver, kidneys and brain, and stays in the body for years.

Ammonia: causes individuals to absorb more nicotine, keeping them hooked on smoking.

Benzene: found in pesticides and gasoline inadvertently”

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