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Turning the plastic tide takes out tonnes of trash

The tractor hauling marine litter from Sandford Bay last weekend
The tractor hauling marine litter from Sandford Bay last weekend

More than two and a half tonnes of litter has been collected from a north-east beach.

Turning the Plastic Tides is a two-year initiative run by the East Grampian Coastal Partnership, and kicked off with a clean of Sandford Bay at Peterhead.

Volunteers gathered 2.68 tonnes of marine litter over a three-hour period, with a tractor and quad bike even drafted in to assist.

One helper found a six inch plastic bubble bath container in the shape of Yogi Bear which is believed to have dated back to the early 1960s.

Beach litter officer Crawford Paris said the team had excellent support at the clean-up.

He said: “As our first beach clean it has showed what we can do and how we can help tackle the problem.

“Fourty-four people showed up and a lot of them were younger kids from the local sea cadets – which I was delighted to see.

“Within 15 minutes of starting there were calls for more bin bags.

“As we got a tractor down we managed to haul the larger stuff from the beach, some of which had been collected together by a previous clean this summer but due to equipment they weren’t able to remove it.

“It was interesting – at the north end there was a lot of smaller stuff like rubber gloves, bits of clothes fabrics and tiny bits of plastic in various shapes.

“To the south we found a lot of netting and rope tangled together submerged under the sand – we had to drag some out with the tractor.

“Chunky sections of rope were found which one worker described as a palm tree as it was so thick.

“I think some of the rubbish had been there for quite some time.”

Plans for the Turning the Plastic Tide initiative include more engagement and other beach cleans along the coast.

Mr Paris and his team are currently drawing up programmes to fit with school curriculums so they can educate youngsters about the dangers of litter in the sea.

He said: “We’re working with a curriculum for excellence officer in Aberdeenshire Council to link into classroom learning and fill any gaps and other areas teachers need support in.

“Our aim is to develop the engagement part of the initiative with a focus on schools and other community or interest groups who want to find out more.

“We do hope to do more clean-ups, possibly one or two a month in the lead up to Christmas.”

Peterhead Port Authority chief executive Simon Brebner said the group was delighted with the launch event efforts.

He added: “There’s a strong public appetite to get out there and do something and hopefully that can be maintained for future clean up days.”

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