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Wading Through the Rubbish - the Real Impact of Marine Litter!

09 February 2017 12:35

A new report has claimed you will come across an average of 5 litter items for every single step you take along your local beach.
This shocking figure come from a report issued by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, who have surveyed 10 beaches right across Northern Ireland.  The report found there were on average 528 litter items found on Northern Ireland’s coastline every 100 metres.
This is clearly a major issue for our beaches and the wider environment, with all the knock-on effects on marine wildlife, coastal scenery, and ultimately on our wider economy too.  However, action is underway to combat the scourge of litter.  NI Water, alongside colleagues in Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and local Councils, are taking steps to teach people the virtues of responsible litter disposal.
Angela Halpenny, NI Water’s Head of Environmental Regulation, said: ‘‘We are fortunate to have some of the finest coastline anywhere in the UK and Ireland, but the prevalence of litter is a major cause for concern, with nearly 530 items on average being recovered from every 100 metres of Northern Ireland’s coastline. The fact that our coastline was found to be cleaner than that of our neighbours is no cause for celebration, however. Litter and discarded rubbish spoils the view from our beaches, can cause irreparable damage to wildlife and the environment, and just looks and smells disgusting.
‘‘It’s not entirely bad news – the number of plastic bags on our coastlines has declined significantly in recent times, as have the number of personal sanitary items – but we still have to acknowledge that 2016 saw a 9% increase in other litter items on local beaches as compared to 2015, so the overall problem is currently getting worse, not better. Much work still needs to be done, and NI Water stands ready to play our full part in that, alongside colleagues in Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, local government and the Eco-Schools programme.
“We welcome the sustained decline in the number of observed sanitary items and plastic bags over the last few years, but any such item on a beach is one too many!  We will continue to raise awareness of the consequences of flushing wipes, nappies and sanitary items away; they can lead to blocked drains, out of sewer flooding and serious pollution incidents, which can adversely affect local communities as well as our coastline.
‘‘NI Water spends approximately £2.5 million per year unblocking sewers which have been needlessly blocked by unwarranted flushing or dumping of items – this is money that could be invested in improving our water and wastewater infrastructure, not clearing totally avoidable blockages and pollution incidents. Through our ‘Dirty Dozen’ campaign and other education initiatives, we constantly emphasise to our customers that toilets are designed only for the 'three P's' - (toilet) paper, poo and pee. If we all follow this simple advice, we can play a major role in making our coastline safer and cleaner in 2017 and beyond.’’


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