'Shocking tide of litter' on beaches in Wales says MCA

Rubbish on Llanfairfechan beach in Conwy during the litter survey Image copyright BBC Elvis
Image caption Rubbish spotted on Llanfairfechan beach in Conwy during the latest litter survey

Litter on beaches in Wales is continuing to rise sharply, a survey by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has suggested.

Over 30,000 items littered 25 beaches on the one weekend surveyed - almost double the UK average.

The MCS said the "shocking tide of litter" threatened visitors' safety.

But fellow campaign group Keep Wales Tidy claimed the findings were not a true reflection of the state of the nation's beaches.

Volunteers for the MCS, which has been cleaning up beaches for 20 years, spent a weekend last September collecting litter on different beaches around Wales.

They found more than 4,400 items of rubbish for every kilometre surveyed, a figure which the group said was far worse than the UK average.

The worst beach was Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire, where more than 7,000 pieces of litter were collected. On Ogmore beach in the Vale of Glamorgan, volunteers even found half a TV among the debris.

'Worse than ever'

Plastic fragments were the top finds once again - tiny pieces which have possibly been at sea for decades before finally washing up on a Welsh shore.

The MCS said its survey suggested litter levels on Welsh beaches were now worse than ever and rose by 60% from 2013.

But it added that there was less sewage-related debris after a plea in 2011 to stop flushing away items that should go in the bin.

MCS Wales programme manager Gill Bell said: "It's coming in from the sea, being blown from the land or simply being dumped and dropped.

"After 20 years of campaigning it's disheartening that in 2013 we are seeing worse litter levels in Wales than ever before."

The society said that in June it would be launching a marine litter action network to try to change behaviour in a variety of areas.

'Inaccurate and misleading'

But Keep Wales Tidy called the survey misleading and unbalanced, saying it was based on one weekend's litter picking outside the tourist season and only covered 25 out of the 150 beaches in Wales.

The charity said there was a strong likelihood that weather conditions would have had a major impact on this kind of snapshot survey. It said if the surveys were on north-facing, completely tidal beaches, they would have shown there was not a litter problem.

Keep Wales Tidy chief executive Lesley Jones said: "We are very disappointed with the approach that MCS have taken with their beach survey and we think that the findings are inaccurate and misleading.

"As an environmental charity in Wales, we are obviously not complacent and recognise litter ending up on our beaches that has been washed up from the sea, washed down our rivers or left on the beach is an issue that needs to be tackled, and we are tackling it.

"We do need to challenge people, but sensationalised blanket statements which do not reflect the reality of the situation is not the way to do it."

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