Over the past month three ‘regiments’ of volunteers have visited Scilly to partner the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit in keeping our beaches clean. The 17 men that comprise 824 Squadron at RNAS Culdrose, 12 Penzance Sea Cadets and 12 volunteers from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) cleared marine-borne litter from 25 beaches across 6 islands, removing a total of 160 bags of waste and 50 other large items that have washed up on our shores.
It was 824 Squadron’s second visit to Scilly in the past year as part of a community liaison exercise. The Penzance Sea Cadets were supported by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company on a daytrip to take part in Clean Cornwall week. For the BTCV volunteers this is the first of two beach sweep working holidays in Scilly this year, which will hopefully continue as a regular annual programme.
The beach cleans had a huge impact, being the first big ‘push’ on tackling the litter that has washed up during the winter storms – our islands being one of the first points of deposit on the edge of the Atlantic with its prevailing south-westerly winds.
Most of the volunteers were surprised at the volume of waste that has accumulated on the beaches in a matter of months. Clare Lewis, Environmental Awareness Co-ordinator for the Isles of Scilly AONB says ‘regular and often’ is the only way to tackle the increasing tide of marine-borne litter ‘as this matches the nature of its arrival’. Clare added, ‘ We pick up litter originating from as far away as Japan and Australia, and although strictly speaking, it’s not ours, it is our problem and responsibility in terms of maintaining a clean and safe environment for the people, flora and fauna here – not to mention the tourist economy that is heavily reliant on the islands’ outstanding beauty’. Clare urges everyone to help out when and where they can on the premise that ‘many hands make light work’. There are 30-40 organised beach cleans across Scilly every year, most of which are open to the public, advertised on the radio and promoted through poster campaigns.
Special thanks go to our gracious visitors who cleaned our beaches and to the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company and Bryher Boats for their support.