Aiming for a litter-free coast

Durham Heritage Coast Officer, Niall Benson (centre, in blue shirt) with Bill Sutherland (to his left), and Keith Lawrence, from Seaham Sub Aqua Club, with members of Durham Heritage Coast Steering Group

Durham Heritage Coast Officer, Niall Benson (centre, in blue shirt) with Bill Sutherland (to his left), and Keith Lawrence, from Seaham Sub Aqua Club, with members of Durham Heritage Coast Steering Group

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A MAJOR environmental campaign has been launched in a bid to tackle beach litter at a popular beauty spot.

The Litter Free Coast and Sea initiative at Crimdon Dene aims to raise awareness of the impact of beach and offshore litter – and hopes to get the local community involved in helping to address the problem.

Marine litter, often washed into the sea from streams and rivers, can have a devastating impact on wildlife.

Fish and birds are caught up and suffocated in abandoned “ghost” fishing nets while toxins from contaminated plastic litter are absorbed into the food chain by mammals and birds which accidentally ingest them.

Niall Benson, Durham Heritage Coast Officer, is pleased to see the Litter Free Coast and Sea campaign launched and believes it will make a very positive difference over time.

He said: “Durham Heritage Coast is amazing and that’s why visitors are coming here in ever increasing numbers.

“But even the most beautiful section of the coastline can sometimes be marred by litter so we need to ensure we stay on top of this issue.

“As well as being unpleasant to look at, litter on and off the coast can have a major impact on local wildlife and eco-systems and cause serious long-term damage to our environment.”

The entire length of the Durham Heritage Coast runs from Salterfen Rocks, near Ryhope, in Sunderland, to Crimdon Beck.

Last year alone, more than 300,000 visits were made to the coast.

Bill Sutherland, a 74-year-old father-of-two and grandfather-of-three from Cameron Road, in Hartlepool, walks his dog every day at Crimdon and is also a warden looking after a tern colony at the site.

He said: “There is lots of litter at Crimdon and it seems to have got worse in recent years, especially in the summer.

“It gets cleaned once or twice a week by the council and we do all we can, but it’s a struggle.

“It’s mainly bottles, beer cans and takeaways – people don’t respect this beautiful area.”

Mr Benson added: “This is an opportunity to take stock and concentrate on the appearance and health of our coast and that involves everyone in our community.

“We’re starting off this summer with awareness-raising as well as some litter picks and will build as we go on to tackle more major issues.

“We’d like to ask local businesses to help out by displaying the Litter Free Coast and Sea posters to help spread the word about the new campaign.

“The message is a simple one really, please take your rubbish home with you.

“It’s our coast and we all want to enjoy it looking at its best.”