Belfast Telegraph

The coast is clear: Belfast Telegraph helps beachcombers clean up scenic bay

By Phillip Baillie and Sarah Rainey

With grey clouds looming overhead and drizzle in the air, heading to the beach is the last thing on most people’s minds at this time of year.

But for a group of determined volunteers from Islandmagee, it was the perfect opportunity to pick up litter blighting our coast.

Around 30 young people braved the rain yesterday to help scour the seaside for rubbish as part of our Big Spring Clean campaign, along with the Belfast Telegraph’s own reporters.

Staff from Coca-Cola joined forces with community groups and Tidy NI at Brown’s Bay beach armed with plastic bags and litter pickers.

Lobster pots, fishing tackle and rusted boat parts were just some of the items cleared away from the Co Antrim beach.

Brown’s Bay is one of Northern Ireland’s finest blue flag beaches and has won the Seaside Award for the past few years. Home to a close-knit community and caravan park, it is a popular location for a weekend break.

However, with holidaymakers staying closer to home in the summer months, the beach has become littered with glass bottles, wrappers and barbeque waste.

Patricia Magee from Tidy NI said cleaning up the sand was vital for both visitors and people living in the neighbourhood.

“It’s really important to keep our beaches tidy because of the growing tourism industry in Northern Ireland. It is not just about cleaning up but teaching people about taking responsibility for where they live and having pride in areas like this,” she said.

Larne Borough Council has also introduced solar bins which compact litter using solar power, triggering an email to the council when the container is full.

Despite efforts to keep the beach tidy, clean-up volunteer Amanda Wilson (21), said it was often scattered with rubbish.

“People don’t really think about the issue when they are on the beach. It only becomes apparent when they start to look for it,” she added.

Representatives from Coca-Cola, who sponsored yesterday’s clean-up, collected bags of rubbish and recyclable waste.

Elena Aceues-Cully of the Islandmagee Community Development Association said it had made a “huge difference” to the area.

To join the Belfast Telegraph’s Big Spring Clean, which runs until Sunday, visit www.tidynorthern ireland.co.uk/big-spring-clean

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