IEMA South West Beach Clean events a success

11th January 2022


September was Great British Beach Clean Week, where hundreds of beach cleans occur across the UK, to raise awareness of protecting the coastal and marine environment by encouraging the public to take responsibility of their rubbish and take it home with them or dispose of it safely and sustainably. IEMA South West Co-Chair Stephanie Rooke reports on the event.

The IEMA South West Regional Network joined up with Keep Britain Tidy to deliver five beach clean events across Somerset, Devon and Cornwall last September, which was our first face to face event for 2021. The Beach Clean events were a success and IEMA South West Steering Group Members represented their local event to promote IEMA and network with the South West members.

Thanks to everyone that got involved! The best part of these events (apart from networking) was that members of the public and the local community were interested in what we were doing and some even joined in! It was also a fantastic opportunity to finally meet Kate Turner in person who is also Co-Chair for IEMA South West, at the Weston-Super-Mare Beach Clean event after working very closely over the past year to lead the IEMA South West Group and deliver regional events.

These beach cleans could not have occurred without collaboration. I had worked with Neil Hembrow, BeachCare / Ocean Recovery Project Manager for the South West before in a previous role and with thanks to him and his local sustainability group contacts, we were able to organise these beach clean events. Neil manages Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project to recover and recycle litter collected by volunteers on beach cleans. Nearly 1,700 beach cleans have been undertaken since 2010 through the BeachCare South West programme sponsored by South West Water and 190 tonnes of marine plastic removed.

Keep Britain Tidy’s latest campaign is ‘#waveofwaste’. 486 plastic and polystyrene body boards were collected at Croyde Bay in Devon over the summer with every single board unusable and damaged due to being snapped or the plastic cover peeled off. In total over 1500 snapped boards were collected and recycled from just a few beaches. The campaign promotes buying better quality body boards or hiring boards. Keep Britain Tidy are working with local holiday and caravan parks to encourage body board lease for the day with the aim of the boards being returned after use. Currently you can hire wooden body boards at Croyde, Saunton and Putsborough. Each year over 14,000 boards get thrown away, with many more floating off to sea and damaging the marine environment. IEMA is proud to support this fantastic project and we have made a voluntary contribution for Keep Britain Tidy to be able to purchase high quality body boards.

“A huge thanks to the IEMA members who came out in all weathers to tackle plastic pollution on our beaches. 2021 was a challenging year for volunteering amongst an ongoing pandemic. It was great to see people enjoying themselves again whilst protecting our precious coastlines. We look forward to working with the IEMA in 2022 on our campaigns and getting our boots on the beach again litter picking.” Neil Hembrow, Keep Britain Tidy

The IEMA South West Steering Group is busy planning our Spring/Summer events and I look forward to organising more beach clean events in collaboration with Keep Britain Tidy for 2022! Keep an eye on our IEMA South West social media channels and the IEMA events page on the website for more information.

Neil Hembrow from Keep Britain Tidy with all the damaged plastic body boards


All damaged body boards

More damaged body boards


IEMA South West Co-Chairs Stephanie Rooke and Kate Turner at the Weston-Super-Mare Beach Clean event


IEMA South West volunteers at the Polzeath Beach Clean event in Cornwall


Weston-Super-Mare Beach Clean event in Somerset


Exmouth Beach Clean event in Devon

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the contributing individual, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.


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