City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland Tops Dirty Beach Survey


By edg - Posted on 08 April 2009

Coastline from the Forth Rail Bridge

An annual survey by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has found that rubbish on British beaches has increased 110% since 1994, and beaches in Scotland are dirtiest of them all.

The (MCS) Beachwatch Survey found that on average there were 2,195 litter items per kilometre on British beaches compared to 1,045 items/km in 1994. The army of 5,219 volunteers across the U.K. found more plastics than ever in the survey, conducted over the weekend of 20th and 21st September 2008.

Beaches around Edinburgh such as Leven, Kirkaldy and Kingsbarns in Fife and Seton Sands in Longniddry, a popular windsurfing spot to the South-East of Edinburgh, were recommended in MCS's Good Beach Guide 2007 for "excellent water quality".

However, the recent Beachwatch survey which rounded up Scotland as a whole painted an altogether different, albeit more generalised, picture.

A total of 55,041 litter items were collected on 52 Scottish beaches over a total length of 21.32 km. On average 2,581.4 items of litter /km were found, more than the UK average (2,195/km) although on the plus side it was 5.37% less than 2007 when litter density was 2,727.8/km.

Coming down the pipe

Public litter was the main source of litter recorded on beaches surveyed in Scotland, with a density of 966.8 items/km surveyed. This is the highest density of public litter for any UK country.

However, Scotland's antiquated sewage pipe system also drags it down. The density of Sewage Related Debris in Scotland (509.1/km) was the highest of any country and over three times the UK average (135.9/km), representing 19.7% of all litter in Scotland.

However, if East Bay in Helensburgh and Clynder beach in Argyll are removed from the analysis, the density of SRD in Scotland falls to 186.48 items/km, still higher than the UK average and the highest SRD density of any country.

Fishing litter was the third largest source with a density of 203.2/km followed by shipping, the lowest of the main litter sources in Scotland with a density of 40.5/km.

Scotland recorded the highest density of shipping litter for any UK country.

Litter, litter everywhere...

Anne Saunders, MCS Scottish Projects Officer believes that the survey shows the necessity for  a national strategy in Scotland for tackling marine litter.

"This is a manmade problem. Every piece of litter has an owner and we all need to take responsibility to not drop litter in the first place. MCS wants to see zero waste on Britain's beaches and our first goal is to halve the litter on Britain's beaches by 2015," said Saunders.