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Public urged to take up ‘million mile beach clean’ challenge as lockdowns ease

Surfers Against Sewage hope to inspire 100,000 people to get out locally across the UK in 2021 to tackle litter and plastic waste

Campaigners have launched what they say will be the UK’s biggest ever beach clean, as part of efforts to tackle the threat of plastic pollution to marine wildlife.

Surfers Against Sewage have marked the launch of their ‘million mile beach clean’ with a 50-metre sand drawing of a seal surrounded by plastic on Cayton Bay in Yorkshire.

The charity hopes to inspire 100,000 people to clean up their local beach, river, street or green spaces, to clear a million miles by the end of 2021, as part of a new ‘million mile clean’ environmental campaign.

The initiative aims to encourage people to get out locally as lockdown eases to tackle litter and plastic waste on streets, country lanes, parks and along waterways, as well as beaches.

Campaigners hope the efforts will protect oceans, beaches and wildlife, as well as reconnecting people with their local environment to help their physical and mental well-being as the country emerges from lockdown.

The initiative will run throughout 2021, but the first week of action will take place between May 15 and 23, and Surfers Against Sewage are calling for ‘clean leaders’ to register to lead a clean-up event during the week.

The sand drawing being created on Cayton Bay in Scarborough (Surfers Against Sewage/PA)

The sand drawing being created on Cayton Bay in Scarborough

The campaign comes as a survey of 2,000 British adults conducted by Opinium for Surfers Against Sewage indicated that more than half (54%) thought Covid-19 had led to an increase in plastic pollution.

Some 59% of those quizzed said they had seen more waste in their area in the last 12 months, while just under a fifth (18%) admitted they had bought more plastic items as a result of the pandemic, and the same proportion had opted for disposable facemasks rather than reusable ones.

Members of the team creating the sand drawing work on the seal's face

The sand drawing is being used to launch what campaigners say will be the UK’s biggest beach clean

Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, said: “The ocean is under threat and we are running out of time to save it. We want to inspire an army of ocean activists to join the cause and put an end to plastic pollution in the UK.

“After more than a year of isolation, social distancing and reduced physical activity, the Million Mile Beach Clean reconnects communities with the environment and provides numerous benefits to mental health and physical well-being.”

He urged people to sign up for the initiative to help make a difference.

Million Mile Beach Clean

The campaign will run throughout 2021

The lead partner for the campaign over the next three years is the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation (IFCF).

Richard Walker, IFCF trustee and managing director of Iceland Foods, added: “As a surfer, beach user and business leader, I believe it is imperative that we protect and restore our oceans as they are essential for all life on earth.

“The million mile beach clean is an opportunity to make a positive impact in reducing the impact of plastic pollution across the UK.”

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viking
10th Apr 2021
1
Thanks for voting!
Come on surfers lets get to grips with the Water companies who let overflow sewage into the river system year on year. This flows into the sea and presumably around a surfers body etc. etc.
A recent feature shown on Anglia TV gave the amounts of dumping each year by Water companies and no retribution for them.
Wilf
10th Apr 2021
2
Thanks for voting!
I agree the water companies should never have been privatized. Chief Execs who were earning £80,000 which is enough for anyone suddenly got £400,000 for the same job? What should happen is all profits should be ploughed back into the infrastructure rather than go to shareholders and executives.
viking
11th Apr 2021
1
Thanks for voting!
Well said Wilf.
The last time that a letter of complaint was sent on my behalf to a water company, the returned waffle was singed by a German CEO. So how many of these water companies have been sold off to foreign buyers, with the foreign shareholders laughing at successive British Governments for selling off the " family silver ". and lining the pockets of others.
Wilf
11th Apr 2021
1
Thanks for voting!
I just do not understand why successive governments have sold off our infrastructure when water for example if not a competitive situation. I think we have Southern Water. Who are they competing for/ against=nobody? So why privatise them?
viking
12th Apr 2021
0
Thanks for voting!
Absolutely agree Wilf.
If there is any policing of these companies, it must be so weak, that these foreign outfits take full advantage of the weakness of the system in the UK.
Wilf
12th Apr 2021
0
Thanks for voting!
There was a programme recently and they are all violating the agreements on only leaking sewerage in in storm surges-they ae constantly doing it! It is an outrage!
viking
13th Apr 2021
0
Thanks for voting!
Yesterday evening the BBC Panorama programme @7.30 delved more deeply into facts and figures of Water companies dumping large amounts of sewage into the waterways then into the seas.
The results were shocking.
Any one on the beach cleaning operation, should be very careful what they might pick up.
Wilf
13th Apr 2021
0
Thanks for voting!
Years ago we used to holiday in North Devon. Raw sewerage was pumped into the sea and everyone used to get horrific colds and sore throats from polluted seawater. I would be interested to see if this has got better over the years.

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