Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland photographer to turn her lens on plastic pollution around our coast

Helena Neeson
Helena Neeson
Helena on one of her photography assignments
The results of a beach clean-up in the United States
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A conservation photographer is to trek around Ireland's beaches to document plastic pollution.

Helena Neeson from Lisburn said the noticeable change in the data she collects during March and April this year as she visits the beaches, as well as interviewing local environmentalists, will be used to make people aware of the damage plastic is causing.

Ms Neeson has a particular interest in plastic pollution and marine debris.

"After some research I noticed that Ireland had gone from being ahead of the game in 2002 - when (the Republic) introduced the plastic bag levy - to becoming one of the biggest plastic polluters in Europe.

"We see the change in the level of pollution when we go to the beaches, which is a shame because, as an island nation, we should be protecting our beaches.

"Ireland is very dependent on tourism, but outside of that no matter where anyone in Ireland is living they are no more than a couple of hours away from the sea, so we are very connected and I cannot understand why we are not protecting that.

"All the plastic that has ever been created is still on the planet, whether that is in the form of new plastic from old or whether it has been discarded and turned into millions of pieces of micro-plastic in the sea.

"There are any number of campaigns raising awareness of plastic pollution, so it is on people's radar and yet we have an increased level of pollution."

Helena said the data she collects will be shared through Friends of the Earth.

She will tour the beaches during the spring, a time when fewer people will be using them than duirng the summer.

She added: "I had considered doing this during July and August when perhaps there will be more plastic pollution, but I am intrigued to see what there is being washed up after storms."

But she added: "I can revisit the project during the summer when there are more people on the beaches and do a comparison."

Belfast Telegraph


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