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Beach visitors 'left speechless' by plastic debris

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  • Storm Ciara
image copyrightWaterhaul.co

Visitors to a beach in Cornwall have been "left speechless" by the amount of plastic washed up in recent storms.

While walking along Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, Amy Gosney, 27, and Harry Dennis, 26, who run the social enterprise Waterhaul said they found "absolutely insane amounts of plastic".

Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis have battered the UK in the past few weeks.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking to see our marine environment looking like this," said Ms Gosney.

"The whole beach was multicoloured with so many microplastics."

image copyrightWaterhaul.co

"There were billions of small plastic pellets, broken down pieces of plastic, cotton bud sticks, and bio-beads," she added.

Bio-beads are small pieces of plastic used to filter waste at sewage treatment plants.

Ms Gosney said the micro plastics were "so worrying because they'll inevitably be mistaken for food and ingested by marine life".

image copyrightWaterhaul.co
image captionBio-beads are used in sewage treatment plants, but can escape into the ocean in large quantities

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, said more and more plastic pollution was being swept in after storms.

"We're lucky in the South West, because we've got an army of beach clean volunteers, but the real solution lies further up the chain," he said.

"We need to call on manufacturers and the government to stop plastic getting into our oceans in the first place.

"The most important part of this is ensuring pointless plastics aren't produced," he added.

image copyrightSian Sykes
image captionBeach cleaners found polystyrene, plastic bottles and old oil cans among the bigger pieces collected after Storm Dennis

Cornwall Council said plastic pollution was "unsightly, a danger to wildlife, and in particular to sealife" and that it was working with community groups to "raise awareness of the need to drastically cut our consumption of single-use and non-essential plastics".

"The council, through its waste contract, cleans a number of beaches throughout Cornwall, removing huge quantities of plastic and other litter from the coastline," it said.

The council said it managed a beach cleaning contract with the waste management firm Biffa that had been recently renewed.

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