The Coast and Heaths and Dedham Vale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley team, with help from the local authorities in these areas, are encouraging people to register for the Marine Conservation Society’s annual Great British Beach Clean and it’s new Source to Sea Litter Quest taking place from the 18 – 25th  September.

The scale of the litter problem in the AONBs since lockdown restrictions have eased has increased enormously. We all need to take action to clean up our beautiful beaches, countryside, villages, and towns to keep these National Landscapes special for people to enjoy and wildlife to thrive.

Individuals are being encouraged to register for the Great British Beach Clean and adopt a 100m stretch of beach and organise their own beach clean and litter survey, with smaller groups of friends, family or ‘bubbles’, in line with Government guidance. Councillor David Wood, Chair of the Coast and Heaths AONB Joint Advisory Committee  said ‘ this is a great opportunity for families and small groups of people to get out and help clean our beaches and estuaries of all the litter that has accumulated over the year. It really does make a difference!’

For those people unable to head to the coast this year a new Source to Sea Litter Quest is being promoted where you try to spot (and pick up!) common beach litter items in your local area. 80% of the litter on beaches around the UK has travelled there from our towns, parks, and rivers. By taking part in the Source to Sea Litter Quest you can remove these potential polluters and see why it’s important to keep our inland spaces clear, for the sake of our oceans. Councillor Nigel Chapman, Chair of the Dedham Vale AONB Joint Advisory Committee said ‘ I am delighted about the new Source to Sea Litter Quest and hope that local people along the River Stour take part not only to clean up litter from their local area but also to stop it reaching the sea!’

The litter survey data helps show a national and international picture of the most common forms of litter which the Marine Conservation Society uses to call for policy change to tackle ocean pollution at its source such as the 5p single-use carrier bag charge, the ban on plastic coffee stirrers and straws and the commitment to a Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland. This year, it’s asking volunteers to record how much personal protective equipment they find, including gloves and masks. This will show how prolific it has become and the danger it poses to the marine environment and wildlife.

During last year’s Great British Beach Clean weekend, 386 volunteers in Suffolk collected over 9582 litter items. It would be wonderful if more people signed up this year to remove litter not just from our beaches but from inland spaces. Just think what an incredible difference that would make to our two National Landscapes in Suffolk and Essex.

To register for either the Great British Beach Clean or Source to Sea Litter Quest visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean  Or for guidance ring the Beachwatch team on 01989 566017, or email beachwatch@mcsuk.org

The AONB team can loan out litter picking and survey equipment to volunteers on a first come first served basis. Contact Emma Black on 01394 445225, or email emma.black@suffolk.gov.uk

Volunteers can also contact their local authority to get advice on the provision of litter picking equipment and litter collection:

East Suffolk- ESN.info@ncsgrp.co.uk