Beachwatch

Here in West Sussex we're blessed with miles of some of England's most beautiful coastline.  From the sand dunes of Littlehampton to the award-winning beach at Bognor Regis we're lucky enough to have this precious environment on our doorstep.

On the August bank holiday I was generously given use of a friend's beach hut at Goring and we enjoyed a glorious day of late summer at the seaside.

But I was appalled by the amount of litter around the beach cafe. In fact I had rather an expensive afternoon after I offered my godchildren rewards according to how much rubbish they could collect.  Incentives work!

All over Britain litter on beaches has risen to its highest ever level - almost doubling since the mid ‘90s.  The Marine Conservation Society has been organising teams to go out and clean and survey our beaches to get a clear picture of the problem.

Last year they found over 2,000 pieces of litter on every kilometre stretch, including plastic bags and bottles, food wrappers, polystyrene and even disposable bags.

Litter not only spoils the environment for people who want a pleasant day on the beach, it's also a serious problem for wildlife.  It's often swallowed by sea birds or seals and if it gets washed out to sea it can entangle fish or choke native dolphins of other passing species.

Last year an amazing 5,000 volunteers took part in the Beachwatch Big Weekend, and this year I'll be joining them.  I'll be meeting volunteers at the West Beach Local Nature Reserve car park at 10:30am on Saturday, and it would be great if anyone would like to join me.

I was in Hong Kong last month and the streets were immaculate - no gum, no litter.  I don't know if this is tougher enforcement at work or a different culture.  Either way, Britain's littering habit is simply inexcusable.

We're meant to be showing increasing concern for the environment.  Judging by our beaches, streets and verges, you wouldn't know it.  I'm fed up with this rubbish and gum, and I'm ready to get tough with the litterbugs.

It's time that our schools and parents drummed into children that littering is thoughtless and antisocial behaviour that must stop.

Michelle Taylor