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Northern Ireland's beaches worst in UK for litter

By Adrian Rutherford

Northern Ireland has some of the dirtiest beaches in the UK -for the second year in a row.

The amount of litter recovered has increased in the last 12 months, new figures show.

Proportionally beaches surveyed here had more rubbish compared to England, Scotland and Wales.

The details emerged in the Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean report, and are based on surveys carried out in September.

Conservationists found the number of plastic bags found on UK beaches has dropped by almost half, with the introduction of a 5p levy on single use plastic bags in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the last five years a key factor.

Volunteers surveyed more than 300 beaches across the UK, including four in Northern Ireland - Rathlin Church Bay on Rathlin Island; Browns Bay near Islandmagee, Co Antrim; Ballyhornan Strand North and Kilkeel North, both in Co Down.

They found Northern Ireland had the highest litter density - for the second year in a row.

A total of 3,854 items were collected from the four surveyed beaches.

An average of 895 pieces of litter per 100 metres were recorded compared to 820 in 2015 - a 9% increase.

Across the UK, the main findings centred on the fall in plastic bags. On average 11 plastic bags were found per 100 metres of coastline cleaned in 2015, but this year there was just under seven - a decrease of almost 40% and the lowest number in the last 10 years.

The Marine Conservation Society's beach watch manager Lauren Eyles said: "This year, for the first time since the charges were introduced, we've seen a significant drop in the number and that can only be as a result of the 5p charge which is now in place in all the home nations."

Beaches in England and Northern Ireland saw the biggest drop in the number of plastic bags found during the September clean up - over half compared with 2015.

Belfast Telegraph


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