Strangford Lough Spring-Clean 2004
(Article by Evelyn Ellison)
Come down and see what we're up to, there'll be lots
of volunteers out and about around Strangford Lough
cleaning up the shoreline. That was the invitation extended
to the YPAM Web Team by the Strangford Lough Management
Committee, whose annual spring-clean of the lough was
taking place between 22 - 27 March.
View over Strangford Lough across to Scrabo
I don't know whether it's because of the state of my
desk, but the other members of the team seemed to think
it would be a good idea if I went to check things out.
However, as luck would have it, it was a beautiful day.
As I drove along the lough side between Newtownards
and Greyabbey, the water was a wonderful blue colour,
the sun caught the white waves being whipped up by a
strong wind. It was hard to keep my eyes on the road
and not admire the view. Surely there wouldn't be much
litter to pick up in this part of the world, I thought,
people wouldn't want to spoil the beauty of this place.
I was so wrong!
Everything including the kitchen sink!
Last year's spring-clean uncovered bits of a fridge,
car parts, fish boxes, barrels, tyres, filing in-trays,
as well as the usual mix of crisp packets, sweet wrappers
and drink cans - even literally a kitchen sink. This
year didn't look as if it was going to be any different.
When I arrived in Portaferry pupils from Portaferry
Integrated Primary School were hard at work down on
the shore. Tin cans, plastic bags, broken bottles, fishing
nets...... they'd already filled 14 bags full of rubbish.
The message they had for people was "Put your litter
in the bin".
Listen - pupils of Portaferry Integrated Primary School
(To access audio and video you need RealPlayer
Not in their natural habitat. Just some of the items being
swept up in the Strangford Lough spring-clean.
Why should we care?
Gazing out over Strangford Lough from Portaferry I
could feel myself relax and it was hard not to feel
delighted that I'd escaped the office. Many of us have
stressful lives and visiting somewhere as beautiful
as Strangford Lough helps recharge the batteries so
to speak. Noone wants to visit a dustbin, so it made
we wonder why we seem to be so hell bent on turning
our coastline and countryside into one with our careless
attitude to litter.
Listen - on a return visit, John McCullough finds
Ballyholme beach, Bangor doesn't live up to his childhood
We love our plastic bags don't we? We're only buying
a litre of milk, but we need a plastic bag to carry
it in. Sea turtles are not quite so keen on them. Plastic
bags floating in the water look like jelly fish, which
is what sea turtles like to eat. However, the bags twist
up the turtles' intestines, meaning they can't digest
anything and so starve to death. It's not just sea turtles
that are affected. Plastic can choke, cut, entangle
or poison a wide variety of animals and birds - nice
Listen - Andy O'Neill of Exploris relates a story
he tells to children of the negative impact litter can
have on wildlife
If the present rash of property programmes is anything
to go by, we do care passionately about where we live.
Elizabeth O'Prey is no exception. She has lived in Portaferry
all her life and hates to see the place, as she sees
it, tarnished by the litter that people thoughtlessly
dump even in the most scenic spots.
Listen - Elizabeth O'Prey
What can we do?
It was hard not to feel overwhelmed when I saw the
huge amount of litter that the children from Portaferry
Integrated Primary School had recovered from just a
short section of shoreline. However, Tracy McCoey believes
we can all do something to reduce the litter problem.
Whether it's buying in bulk to cut down on the packaging
or putting your sweetie wrapper in your pocket not on
the pavement or taking your picnic leftovers home -
we can all play our part.
Listen - Tracy McCoey
Our green and pleasant land!
Now much more aware, on the way home I kept noticing
litter that had been dumped along the roadside. Sheets
of plastic caught in hedges, crisp packets lying on
grass verges. Just coming into Carryduff I spotted these
full plastic bags left in the gateway to a field - the
council amentity site is only 200 yards further up the
Is there a litter problem in your area that you're particularly
worried about? Perhaps your locality is litter free - what's the
secret behind this success? Share your comments and stories
here on Your Place & Mine by filling in the form below.
Listen - Caroline Nolan's report for Your Place
& Mine on the Strangford Lough Spring-Clean 2004
What the Spring-clean uncovered
A baby's buggy, bits of furniture and barbeques, carpets, a tennis racket, sofa
cushions, parts of a tool set, a tracksuit, a kettle, a traffic cone, a fire
extinguisher and an estate agent's board! It's hard to believe but these
were among the items found along the shoreline during the spring-clean. Our
litter habits aren't changing either - apparently similar items were found
during last year's spring-clean. For an update on the results of the spring-clean
visit the Strangford Lough Office's website at
If you live in the Ards area and are interested in organising a spring-clean event, you
can contact Andrew McLawrence at Ards Borough Council on 028 918 24000.
Visit your local council website for details about
recycling and amentity sites in your area eg Ards
Borough Council, Coleraine
Borough Council or Fermanagh
Read about a campaign Belfast City Council have launched
Don't Drop it - Stop it", aimed at
getting tough with those who drop litter.
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