Description

This activity relates to the prevention and monitoring of coastal and marine litter. Please also see separate entries for related activities: beach cleaning, harbour waste management, and discharges at sea

Key locations

Throughout the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast

Frequency

Continuous

Potential issues

  • Injury to wildlife from entanglement and injury
  • Aesthetic impacts of litter can adversely effect public perception of site quality

Features of Marine Protected Areas which might be affected

  • Reefs
  • Sea caves
  • Sand and mud flats
  • Inlets and bays
  • Grey seal
  • Birds (wintering and breeding)

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (England)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Power, Duty or Regulatory Tool Relevant Legislation Lead Organisation
Statutory duty on Local Authorities to keep land clear of litter and refuge The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Section 89) Northumberland County Council

 

North Tyneside Council

Requirement for Marine Licences [may apply to some litter collection activities]

 

Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (Section 65) Marine Management Organisation
Requirement for ships above a certain size to have a garbage management plan and sewage treatment facilities The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA
Prohibition on disposal of plastic garbage from vessels at sea The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA
SSSI Consent, Assent or  Advice

 

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) (Section 28) Natural England
Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) of impacts

 

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (Regulation 63) All Competent or Responsible Authorities as defined by the Regulation.
Duty on Public Authorities to consider the effect of proposed activities on MCZs before authorising them Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (Section 126) All Public Authorities

Relevant Guidance, Plans or Codes (England)

The following guidance, codes, plans or strategies are also relevant to the management of this activity:

Name Description Responsible Organisation Statutory or Non-Statutory?
The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse 2006 (COPLAR) The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (COPLAR) provides practical guidance on the discharge of duties imposed by The Environmental Protection Act 1990 to keep land, including beaches, clear of litter and refuse. Defra Non-Statutory
Litter Strategy For England (2017) The strategy sets out how the Government will work with different local groups, local authorities, Highways England and businesses to reduce litter. UK Government Non-Statutory
Marine Guidance Note 385 (M+F) Guidance on the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of MCA Non-Statutory

Details of Current Management (England)

(NB: Please see separate entries for beach cleaning, harbour waste management, and discharges at sea)

Local Authority Beach Cleaning:

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 puts a duty on Local Authorities to keep land, including beaches, clear of litter and refuse on land in their ownership or under their direct control or management.

Mechanical cleaning of amenity beaches in South East Northumberland/North Tyneside is undertaken by local authorities during the summer period.

The majority of the Northumberland coastline is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and beach cleaning operations are consented by Natural England. These consents usually come with conditions attached limiting the timing and frequency of operations in order to protect wintering birds. Hand cleaning is carried out on all beaches within the Northumberland section of the Berwickshire and North Northumberland SAC. Occasional mechanical cleaning occurs at Spittal to remove large debris that has travelled down the River Tweed, plus occasional machine movement of sand where it prevents safe beach access.

Beach clean events and litter picks:

Beach clean events and litter picks are increasingly being undertaken by organisations, local communities and individuals.  Such activity has an important role in reducing marine litter and in providing information about the scale and nature of local litter issues. Organisations active in organising litter picks include Coast Care North East, The National Trust and the Marine Conservation Society.

The Marine Conservation Society provides a number of online resources for individuals wishing to organise local beach clean events. https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/

Licencing and Consents:

The collection of contemporaneous marine litter using lifting bags or by hand (to a weight limit <100kg) does not require a marine licence.

It is a licensable activity to use a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, marine structure or floating container to remove a substance or object from the seabed in the UK marine area. This includes collection of litter from the seabed, including lost fishing gear (“Ghost Gear”). In November 2018 the Government launched a consultation about proposals to exempt divers from requiring a licence to remove litter and ghost gear.

Use of vehicles to remove litter, seaweed or dead animals from a beach does not require a licence provided the activity is carried out by or on behalf of a local authority and the conditions contained in the exemption are met. This includes the use of vehicles or plant necessary to undertake the activity.

Conditions of this exemption:

This is covered by Article 21 of the 2013 Exempted Activities Order

Publicity campaigns and awareness raising:

Publicity and awareness raising are key tools in reducing the amounts of litter which finds its way into the marine environment.

Northumbrian Water Limited’s Dwaine Pipe campaign aims to raise awareness amongst the general public about the issues associated with putting inappropriate litter items into the sewage system.

A number of organisations are campaigning on the issue of marine litter and the need to reduce use of plastics.  These include The Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, and the Wildlife Trusts. If required, new campaigns or publicity materials can be developed locally to address specific issues or concerns.

Codes and Strategies:

The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (COPLAR) provides practical guidance on the discharge of duties imposed by The Environmental Protection Act 1990 to keep land, including beaches, clear of litter and refuse. Scottish and UK COPLARs were published in 2006.

The Government’s Litter Strategy For England (2017) sets out how they will work with different local groups, local authorities, Highways England and businesses to reduce litter. As part of the strategy, grants from a Litter Innovation Fund are available competitively each year to encourage local groups to come up with innovative ways to tackle litter in their communities, with grants of up to £10,000 available per project.

Data collection:

Collection of data on the types of distribution of litter found on beaches is an important tool in identifying and addressing any issues.

A number of organisations, local groups and individuals carry out regular beach litter surveys at sites within Northumberland and North Tyneside, the results are which are fed to the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch scheme.

The North East Beached Bird Survey collects  dead fulmars, whose stomach contents are collected for analysis of plastic debris, as part of an OSPAR project looking at marine litter.

Management of waste and discharges for ships:

Most international regulations on marine pollution come from the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which was updated in 1978. MARPOL was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships.

The disposal of garbage and sewage from ships is a potential major source of marine litter and is addressed in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), Annex V of which prohibits the at-sea disposal of plastic waste from ships.

Under the MARPOL Convention, the North Sea is a designated Special Area, in which, the adoption of special mandatory methods for the prevention of sea pollution is required. Under the Convention, Special Areas are provided with a higher level of protection than other areas of the sea. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) enforces the requirements of the Convention in UK waters and responds to spill incidents. Discharges of waste from vessels are regulated through a vessel certification system that is issued and enforced by the MCA. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Marine Scotland (MS) licenses deposits at sea and dumping of waste.

The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Garbage) Regulations 2008 were developed to address the requirements of MARPOL and were updated in 2008. These can be downloaded at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-385-prevention-of-pollution-by-sewage-and-garbage-from-ships-regulations-2008

Under these Regulations:

  • every ship of 12 metres or more must display placards informing crew and passengers about disposal requirements for garbage
  • every ship of 400 gross tonnes or certificated for 15 passengers or more must have a garbage management plan and maintain a garbage record book

Gaps in Management (England)

There is no equivalent of the Scottish Fishing for Litter campaign active in Northumberland/North Tyneside.

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (Scotland)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Power, Duty or Regulatory Tool Relevant Legislation Lead Organisation
Statutory duty on Local Authorities to keep land clear of litter and refuge: The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Section 89) Scottish Border Council
Requirement for Marine Licences [may apply to some litter collection activities]

 

 

Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (Section 20) Marine Scotland
Requirement for ships above a certain size to have a garbage management plan and sewage treatment facilities The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA
Prohibition on disposal of plastic garbage from vessels at sea The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 MCA
Requirement for SSSI Consent or Advice

 

Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (Sections 13-17) Scottish Natural Heritage
Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) of impacts

 

The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (Regulation 48) All Competent or Responsible Authorities as defined by the Regulation.

Relevant Guidance, Plans or Codes (Scotland)

The following guidance, codes, plans or strategies are also relevant to the management of this activity:

Name Description Responsible Organisation Statutory or Non-Statutory?
The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (Scotland) 2018 (COPLAR) The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (COPLAR) provides practical guidance on the discharge of duties imposed by The Environmental Protection Act 1990 to keep land, including beaches, clear of litter and refuse Scottish Government Non-Statutory
A Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland The aim of the strategy is to help realise the vision of “clean, healthy, safe,

productive and biologically diverse marine and coastal environment that meets the long term needs of people and nature”.

 

Marine Scotland

 

Non-Statutory
Marine Guidance Note 385 (M+F) Guidance on the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of MCA Non-Statutory

Details of Current Management (Scotland)

(NB: Please see separate entries for beach cleaning, harbour waste management, and discharges at sea)

Local Authority Beach Cleaning:

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 puts a duty on Local Authorities to keep land, including beaches, clear of litter and refuse on land in their ownership or under their direct control or management.

On beaches  designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), regular beach cleaning operations will need to be consented by Scottish Natural Heritage. Hand cleaning is carried out on all beaches within the Scottish section of the Berwickshire and North Northumberland SAC with the exception of Coldingham Bay.

Beach clean events and litter picks:

Beach clean events and litter picks are increasingly being undertaken by organisations, local communities and individuals.  Such activity has an important role in reducing marine litter and in providing information about the scale and nature of local litter issues. Organisations active in organising litter picks include the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Society.

The Marine Conservation Society provides a number of online resources for individuals wishing to organise local beach clean events. https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/

Licencing and Consents:

It is a licensable activity to use a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, marine structure or floating container to remove a substance or object from the seabed in the UK marine area. This includes collection of litter from the seabed, including lost fishing gear (“Ghost Gear”).

Use of vehicles to remove litter, seaweed or dead animals from a beach does not require a licence provided the activity is carried out by or on behalf of a local authority and the conditions contained in the exemption are met, including that the activity must not be likely to have a significant effect on a marine protected area. The exemption includes the use of vehicles or plant necessary to undertake the activity. This is covered by The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Inshore Region) Order 2011

Publicity campaigns and awareness raising:

Publicity and awareness raising are key tools in reducing the amounts of litter which finds its way into the marine environment.

A number of organisations are campaigning on the issue of marine litter and the need to reduce use of plastics.  These include The Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, and the Wildlife Trusts. If required, new campaigns or publicity materials can be developed locally to address specific issues or concerns.

Codes and Strategies:

The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (COPLAR) provides practical guidance on the discharge of duties imposed by The Environmental Protection Act 1990 to keep land, including beaches, clear of litter and refuse. Scottish and UK COPLARs were published in 2006.

https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00457889.pdf

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/nation-ambition-governments-programme-scotland-2017-18/

Data collection:

Collection of data on the types of distribution of litter found on beaches is an important tool in identifying and addressing any issues.

The St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve carry out regular beach litter surveys, the results are which are fed to the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch scheme.

Marine Scotland Science (MSS) collect a range of marine litter data. Seabed litter is monitored on all MSS vessels which carry out trawling, covering most of Scotland’s seas. Scottish waters and marine sediments are sampled for microplastics and fish stomachs are also examined for plastics.  Dead fulmars are collected for stomach content analysis of plastic debris, as part of an OSPAR project looking at marine litter.

The SCRAPbook Project is using aerial photography to map litter on beaches and identify beach litter hotspots https://www.scrapbook.org.uk/

Management of waste and discharges for ships:

Most international regulations on marine pollution come from the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which was updated in 1978. MARPOL was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships.

The disposal of garbage and sewage from ships is a potential major source of marine litter and is addressed in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), Annex V of which prohibits the at-sea disposal of plastic waste from ships.

Under the MARPOL Convention, the North Sea is a designated Special Area, in which, the adoption of special mandatory methods for the prevention of sea pollution is required. Under the Convention, Special Areas are provided with a higher level of protection than other areas of the sea. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) enforces the requirements of the Convention in UK waters and responds to spill incidents. Discharges of waste from vessels are regulated through a vessel certification system that is issued and enforced by the MCA. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Marine Scotland (MS) licenses deposits at sea and dumping of waste.

The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Garbage) Regulations 2008 were developed to address the requirements of MARPOL and were updated in 2008. These can be downloaded at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-385-prevention-of-pollution-by-sewage-and-garbage-from-ships-regulations-2008

Under these Regulations:

  • every ship of 12 metres or more must display placards informing crew and passengers about disposal requirements for garbage
  • every ship of 400 gross tonnes or certificated for 15 passengers or more must have a garbage management plan and maintain a garbage record book