Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Town Council has this week given its backing to a new ‘green’ project to reduce the use of single-use plastics such as cutlery, straws and cups in the town in order to help local beaches and marine life.
Mark Wakeling from the campaign group Surfers Against Sewage – pictured below with the Deputy Mayor Peter Clayton and Town Council Clerk Tatiana Cant – addressed councillors on Monday (December 11th) to explain why it’s so important to clean up local beaches, river estuaries and the sea by reducing plastic waste to stop pollution.
The Town Council unanimously passed a motion to support the ‘Plastic-Free Coastlines’ scheme and are now encouraging residents in Burnham-On-Sea to get involved by saying ‘no’ to single-use plastics, such as straws, takeaway cups and polystyrene food boxes.
Mark said: “I grew up in this area and have been windsurfing in Burnham for 25 years so I have quite a big interest in keeping the sea clean. The South West is the second worst region of the UK for plastics on beaches and plastic has increased by 10% over the last year.”
“I frequently find single-use plastics such as straws, cups and food containers which is killing marine life. We all need to do our bit to reduce the use of plastics.”
Burnham-On-Sea’s MP James Heappey, pictured below with Mr Wakeling, also gave his backing to the campaign in a letter read out at Monday’s meeting.
The MP said: “The amount of plastic that’s washed up on our beaches is horrendous and it is gut wrenching to see the amount of it that has obviously been pecked or bitten by birds or other marine life.”
He added: “Much of the plastic on Burnham beach originated locally and so by committing to the Plastic Free Coastline we can make a big difference to marine life in our area. We’ll also be having a positive impact on the visitor experience in the town and it will be helpful in our pursuit of higher bathing water standards too.”
“I’ve had the please of working with Mark on the Bathing Water Steering Group and we are lucky to have such a committed campaigner living locally. He has my full support.”
Burnham-On-Sea Chamber Of Trade has also supported the campaign this week, with a spokesman saying: “We’re fully behind the scheme and have invited Surfers Against Sewage along to speak at one of our upcoming members meetings for Burnham’s businesses to hear more about how they can get involved.”
Cllr Martin Cox said at Monday’s meeting: “The BBC’s Blue Planet has opened my eyes to how vast a problem the plastics problem is – and I fully support this campaign.”
Cllr Mike Facey added: “I support it completely and propose that we accept the motion. It was seconded by Cllr Phil Harvey and councillors voted unanimously in favour.
The motion reads: “That this council supports the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Coastline campaign in an effort to reduce the use of single use plastics (eg cutlery, straws, cups etc) in the town which, in turn, contribute not only to the plastic pollution epidemic to our waters, but also to the litter problem on our streets. This Council notes that achieving this accreditation requires five objectives to be met and that this council will lead by example.”
One of the five objectives involves a local council passing a motion to support Plastic-Free Coastlines, meaning it has achieved the first objective.
The Friends of Burnham Beach have been busy this year cleaning local beaches to try and reduce the amount of waste littering local tidelines – their latest clean is this coming Saturday.