Video: Poop scoop bags on beaches in “sharp rise”

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THE Marine Conservation Society has slammed irresponsible dog owners after it recorded a “sharp rise” in the number of used poop scoop bags left on UK beaches.

The issue has been raised in and around the Skegness area in the past, with local councillors scathing in their condemnation of such irresponsible acts.

Skegness beach looking south-east towards the Norfolk coastline in the far distance. Photo by Philip Murray.

Skegness beach looking south-east towards the Norfolk coastline in the far distance. Photo by Philip Murray.

There have also been previous calls for more dog poo bins on the local coastline in a bid to tackle the issue.

But now a new report from the Marine Conservation Society has revealed that such problems are not just confined to Skegness.

And the society has warned that piles of dog poo shrink-wrapped in plastic bags could threaten the health and safety of beach visitors after recording rises of up to 71 per cent in a year in some parts of the UK.

MCS Beachwatch Officer, Lauren Davis, said the findings reveal good and bad habits: “We’re delighted that pet owners enjoy dog friendly beaches and clearly think ahead by carrying poop scoop bags.

A poop scoop bin overflows close to Skegness Pier on Thursday morning. If the dog owners had walked just 100 yards further up the beach they'd have found a bin which had plenty of space.

A poop scoop bin overflows close to Skegness Pier on Thursday morning. If the dog owners had walked just 100 yards further up the beach they'd have found a bin which had plenty of space.

“But we hope our findings will now encourage them to take the bag off the beach and bin it in one of the many receptacles provided for the job.

“Leaving a bag full of poo on the beach will result in preserved excrement, protected from the elements for years by a bag which could take a long time to break down.

“We don’t want children picking up bags that break open and spill their contents whether it’s fresh or ‘mature’.

“Dog poo is a source of high levels of bacteria and can lead to reduced water quality, and poses a human health risk.”

The figures were recorded during the society’s annual BeachWatch Big Weekend, which saw almost 4,500 volunteers clearn 335 beaches across the UK.

And, although they recorded a sharp rise in dog poop scoop bags lyign around, there was good news elsewhere - with overall shore litter down 11 per cent on the pregvious survey.

“The latest results from our weekend long Beachwatch event held on September 17 and 18 last year are more encouraging than they have been for a while,” added Lauren.

“Not only did beach litter drop overall, we also saw a substantial dip of 33 per cent in the amount of sewage related debris on our beaches – that’s the stuff people put down their loos but shouldn’t, like cotton buds, condoms, sanitary towels and tampon applicators.

In 2010 there was a 40 per ccent rise in such waste compared to the previous year, but after we’d highlighted the issue and urged people to change their habits, the latest data looks like the message may be getting home.”

The latest survey covered a total area of 142.3 kilometres. Almost 250,000 items of litter were collected, filling over 2,177 bags.

For every kilometre surveyed almost 1,741 pieces of litter were found.

The society is also concerned by a rise in the number of balloons found on UK beaches during the Beachwatch Big Weekend, increasing by eight per cent since 2010.

“With 2012 set to be a year of celebrations from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to the London Olympics, we really need people to understand why letting go is a bad idea. There is clear evidence that balloons harm wildlife in the marine environment and we don’t want to see 2012 leaving a legacy of littering,” said Lauren.

MCS says litter levels dropped in 2009 from an all time high in 2008 and rose again in 2010. The charity says it hopes the drop of 11% last year will be the start of a downward trend.

“Litter levels on our beaches are still are worryingly high,” continued Lauren. “Our September 2011 Beachwatch Big Weekend saw volunteers take to the beaches in driving wind and rain.

“In September 2012 we would like to see more volunteers and more beaches being cleaned to give us an even clearer picture of the state of our UK beaches.”

- The attached video highlights the local poop scoop issue. This was filmed on Skegness beach this morning (Thursday) and highlights both of the local concerns. Firstly, that some people believe there aren’t enough dog poo bins and secondly that some dog owners have been accused of being lazy. For example this poop scoop bin was full, but the next two up the beach - the closest of which was just 100 yards away - still had plenty of space in them.