Heritage Coast extension proposals – last chance to have your say

For some time we have been working with Copeland Borough Council, Natural England and the Colourful Coast Partnership to put together a proposal to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast northwards towards Whitehaven. The extension proposals have been out for public consultation for the last few weeks and the consultation process closes tomorrow.  We urge you to use this opportunity to have your say on the proposals and the protection of this stretch of coast.  All the information about the proposals and details of how to submit your comments can be found here.

Heritage Coast – your chance to find out more…

Blue skies over head and sand blowing across the beach at St Bees

We’re really excited that the extension proposals for the St Bees head Heritage Coast are now out for public consultation and we’ve had some people asking us about them, wanting to know more.  So, we thought we’d invite you to drop in and look at the plans, find out more, have a cup of tea, chat to us about your thoughts and then feedback your opinions.

 

We’ll be upstairs at the Beacon Portal on Saturday 9th February from 11am until 2.30pm. Drop in any time and have a cuppa, have a chat and find out more about our coastline and what makes it so special.  It’s also a chance for you to find out more about the work of the Colourful Coast Partnership, National Trust and find out what events we’ve got planned for the area this year.

 

We hope to see you there.

A proposal to extend St Bees Head Heritage Coast northwards towards Whitehaven

For some time we have been working with Copeland Borough Council and Natural England to put together a proposal to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast northwards towards Whitehaven. Copeland Borough Council is now asking for your views on these proposals.  We encourage you to use this opportunity.  If you’re unsure what a Heritage Coast is, or why we think the boundary should change then read on…

 

What is a Heritage Coast?

Heritage Coasts were established to conserve the best stretches of undeveloped coast in England and are defined by agreement between the local authorities (in this case Copeland Borough Council) and Natural England.

Heritage coasts were established to:

  • conserve, protect and enhance:
    • the natural beauty of the coastline
    • their terrestrial, coastal and marine flora and fauna
    • their heritage features
  • encourage and help the public to enjoy, understand and appreciate these areas
  • maintain and improve the health of inshore waters affecting heritage coasts and their beaches through appropriate environmental management measures
  • take account of the needs of agriculture, forestry and fishing and the economic and social needs of the small communities on these coasts

 

St Bees Head Heritage Coast

The St Bees Head Heritage Coast was defined in 1992 and is currently 6km in length. It is the only stretch Heritage Coast between Wales and Scotland and is one of only 5 ‘orphan’ heritage coasts in the country, which means it does not fall within AONB or National Park boundaries.  The Heritage Coast definition sits alongside the existing designation of Marine Conservation Zone, Site of Special Scientific Interest and Scheduled Ancient Monuments which recognise the unique qualities of this stretch of coast.

 

The proposal

The National Trust, Colourful Coast Partnership, Copeland Borough Council and Natural England have been working together to explore the options to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast northwards towards Whitehaven. They have put together an evidence base which evaluated the whole area against a set of heritage coast criteria. The whole document can be found here. This showed that the area marked on the map is of Heritage Coast quality, and the current boundary should be amended.

 

Proposed St Bees Head Heritage Coast extension

Map showing boundary of the proposed St Bees Head Heritage Coast extension

 

Opportunities and benefits

A northwards extension to the existing St Bees Head Heritage Coast boundary could:

  • Bring a wider recognition of the quality of the area
  • Increase tourism opportunities
  • Generate opportunities for grant funding which would contribute towards the further enhancement and ongoing management of the area.
  • Heritage Coasts are protected through the planning system. Local Authorities should ‘maintain the character of the undeveloped coast, protecting and enhancing its distinctive landscapes.’ This can also ensure that development is of a higher quality.
  • Opportunity to put together a steering group to create a Management Plan for the area. Legally every Heritage Coast should have a management plan incorporating targets, and a timetable for their implementation. St Bees Head Heritage Coast does not currently have a steering group or management plan in place.

 

What next?

Copeland Borough Council would like to know your views on our proposal to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast boundary towards Whitehaven and are running a public consultation on the plans until 15 February 2019. All the information on how to respond can be found on the Copeland Borough Council website https://www.copeland.gov.uk/content/st-bees-head-heritage-coast-proposed-extension , we encourage you to feed back any comments and thoughts on the proposals.  If you would like any more information on the evidence base or have any questions please email our Project Officer Sophie Badrick at  sophie.badrick@nationaltrust.org.uk and we will try and help you.

2018’s last beach clean

Volunteers and litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

Last week we had our final beach clean of 2018.  A fantastic 23 people came along to Whitehaven’s North shore and helped us on a bright, and somewhat breezy, day.  This beach clean was the first where we’ve used the hessian coffee sacks which Carvetii Coffee have kindly donated to us.  We’re using the sacks instead of bin bags so that we’re sending less plastic to landfill.  The hessian sacks not only hold more waste, but we hope they’ll also beak down quicker than plastic.

Beach litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

Beach litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

 

We know from previous beach cleans that there’s lots of rope in the rock armour at Whitehaven so we decided to come armed with and assortment of implements to try and cut this out.  It takes a lot of time to say through nylon rope so we were really lucky to have a few dedicated volunteers who tackled the worst areas.

Because we had lots of people we also decided to survey the litter we collected.  We use the Marine Conservation Society’s beachwatch surveying method so that we can contribute all the data to a national record and help to build up a picture of the national marine litter issue.

Surveying litter and beach cleaning at Whitehaven North Shore

Surveying litter and beach cleaning at Whitehaven North Shore

In total we collected 346 pieces of litter in an hour and a half.  Not bad when you consider some of that had to be cut from amongst the rock armour, dragged a few hundred metres along the beach or picked up at arms reach with a litter picker.  The table below gives you an idea of the variety of material we found.

Types of material collected during a beach clean at Whitehaven North Shore

Types of material collected during a beach clean at Whitehaven North Shore

 

Plastic makes up a staggering 63.5% of all the litter found on the day, and a lot of that was plastic bottles, bottle cpas, food wrapping and other items which could have been recycled.  Coming in second place was paper and cardboard – a lot of this was fast food rubbish and should have been disposed of properly rather than ending up on the beach.  The best finds of the day included fishing bouys, fishing crates, two tyres and two wellies – found quite far apart but possibly a pair!  the fishing crate has been repurposed and our Project Officer is now using it to store and transport all of our beach cleaning gear around (reduce, reuse, recycle in action!)

We’ll be looking back over all our 2018 beach cleans soon, and giving you some idea of how much litter we’ve collected this year.  But in the meantime we’ve finalised the dates of all of our beach cleans for 2019…so if you’re at a loose end on the last Thursday of the month then come along!  All the details can be found on our events page.

 

A small part of the big beach cleaning picture

For the last two years we’ve organised beach cleans as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean, the biggest beach clean and survey in the UK.

While we’ve only taken art for the last two years, the GBBC and Beachwatch programmes has been running for over 25 years.  In this time volunteers have collected information which has helped make some of the most significant impacts on beach litter ever – the plastic bag charge, microplastics banned in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and massive support for a tax on ‘on the go’ plastic single use items.

The GBBC 2018 Report, shows that across the UK on average, a staggering 600 items of litter on every 100 metres of beach that were cleaned and surveyed.  While that’s still a huge amount it’s actually 16% down on last year.

Beach cleaning finds at Whitehaven North Shore

Finding rope nearly as tall as our beach cleaners at Whitehaven’s North Shore

On a chilly and wet September day we did our Great British Beach Clean at North Shore in Whitehaven and found 269 pieces of litter in our 100 metre survey area.  Most of the litter we found was plastic (over 47%), and 64% of the litter we found came from the public – things like bottles, fast food wrappers and cigarette butts.  This is much more than the national figure of 28%.

So, what can you do to help us keep beaches clean?  You can join us on Wednesday 12th December when we’ll be back beach cleaning at North Shore (we bring everything you need, just come along and join in).  We’ve also written an article with a few ideas before to get you started reducing how much plastic you use.  A Deposit Return System (DRS) is under development in Scotland and has been promised for England.  The MCS says the Government now has a golden opportunity to bring in the best system possible – one that will include all bottles and cans and all sizes.  A consultation on a DRS in England is expected to be launched any day now.  Keep your eye on the MCS website and social media feeds to see how you comment on the proposals.

 

 

‘Excellent’ bathing waters at St Bees beach

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published statistics that reveal that 97% of the North West’s bathing waters meet the government’s required standards for water quality.  St Bees beach has achieved ‘excellent’ status, which is the highest, cleanest class and the required standard to qualify for Blue Flag status.  Great news whether you swim, walk, sail, surf, paddle, stroll or play on the beach.

A new classification for bathing water quality was brought in 4 years ago.  The new classifications are much tougher than the previous system of classification but 97.9% of bathing waters in England now comply with at least the minimum standard.  The results are based on four seasons (May to September) of monitoring for the bacteria Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci in the water so the 2018 results actually reflect the water quality from 2015-2018.  The level of bacteria can be impacted by a range of factors including the weather, e.g. high rainfall causing sewer overflows, or other issues such as pollution from agriculture or urban areas.

Cotton bud sticks found at St Bees

Cotton bud sticks found while beach cleaning at St Bees

 

Alongside a range of stakeholders (including the Environment Agency, United Utilities and the local authorities), hundreds of residents from across the North West have engaged with LOVEmyBEACH to reduce pollution and improve the regions rivers, lakes and the sea.  Even though lots of good work has already been done, there’s still more to do.  Why not see how you can help our coastline from the comfort of your own home by making some simple changes, check out our blog post for a few ideas of how to start.  You can also come along to a beach clean – join us at Whitehaven on 12th December for our last beach clean of the year.  We provide all the equipment you’ll need and even supply biscuits!

Cumbria Coastal Strategy

Cumbria County Council are currently consulting on their Coastal Strategy and they want to know what you think!  Everyone living, visiting or working on or near the coast is invited to take part in determining how their local coastline should be managed.  Comments and feedback are welcomed but need to be in by the 14th December 2018.  More information can be found below.

Cumbria Coastal Strategy

Cumbria Coastal Strategy

The Cumbria Coastal Strategy (CCS) will be a plan to evaluate and manage the risks related to coastal flooding and erosion along the Cumbrian coastline on a long-term scale.  Following on from the North West Shoreline Management Plan (SMP2) which covered the coastline from the Great Orme in North Wales to the Scottish Border, the need for a more focused Strategy was identified.  The CCS will assess the existing condition of land and flood defences along the coastline and build on the existing proposals set out in the SMP2, identifying potential future interventions required. So, if you love, work or visit the coast, or just have some opinions on how you’d like to see it managed in the future then now’s your chance to speak up and let your thoughts be heard.  You can feedback online or by post, check the website for details.

Whitehaven beach clean – the results are in!

Yesterday we had a whopping 22 volunteers joining us at our regular Whitehaven beach clean, which is fantastic!  We decided to make use of the big numbers and do a Beach Watch survey of the beach alongside collecting all the litter we could find.

IMG_20180914_092400_673

Together we collected and recorded 623 pieces of litter with over 60% of what we collected being plastic or polystyrene.  The majority of what we found was sourced from the public, which means it was litter dropped by people – we found a lot of fast food waste, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and sweet wrappers.  All of which was picked up by our dedicated volunteers before it was washed out to sea to become part of the global marine litter crisis.

The results from the survey can be found here 181017 Whitehaven North Shore – Survey 17 Oct 2018

Its fantastic to see so many people coming along to help us tackle the marine litter problem.  In total we collected 25 bags of litter, lobster pots, a deck chair and part of a sofa! As always a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came along to help out – especially little Archie who missed a morning at nursery to come down but had a great time.

Chinese mitten crab

Recently the North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority issued an advisory notice for the presence of the Chinese Mitten Crab in the Walney Channel.

NWIFCA CMC leaflet October 18

This is an invasive non-native species and are listed as a Species of Union Concern under EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation.  For more information on how to identify the Chinese Mitten Crab, and what you do if you suspect the presence of Chinese Mitten Crab please see this page on the NW IFCA website.  They haven’t been seen in the area of the Colourful Coast but if you have any worries please contact the NW IFCA.