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On Monday January 4 2016, thousands of bright pink detergent bottles have been washed up on Poldhu beach on the Lizard Peninsula, part of the West Cornwall coastline cared for by the National Trust.
Justin Whitehouse, National Trust Lead Ranger on the Lizard Peninsula, said: ‘We were alerted to the bottles on Monday and started collecting them straight away, with the aid of our staff and volunteers including those from the Friends of Poldhu Community Group, to remove them from the coastal environment as quickly as possible.
‘We are urging people to not to pick up any bottles without using protective gloves, to keep animals away, and to avoid swimming or walking in the area until any risk from the detergent to human or animal health has been assessed.
‘More than two tonnes worth of bottles have been collected so far, however there is potential for more of the bottles to spread further up and down the coast. Samples of bottles have been submitted for independent analysis and are waiting for the results, as our immediate concern is any impact on the environment and wildlife.
‘We have been in contact with potential manufacturers of the bottles about the clean-up and will be investigating the source of where the bottles have come from.’
As the biggest coastal landowner in the country, looking after one third of the Cornish coast, the National Trust is deeply concerned about increasing amounts of marine litter, in particular plastic debris, off UK shores and its effect on marine wildlife. We have been working with other agencies and Cornwall County Council’s emergency response team on managing the situation.
Across the year we run beach cleans where staff and volunteers work together to help with cleaning up the beaches that we look after. In the spring of 2015 hundreds of volunteers helped at 19 of our beaches across the South West of England collecting 533 bags of rubbish. At Blakeney Point in Norfolk 57 large bags of rubbish were collected in March and September 2015.
The unknown impacts of concentrated amounts of detergents on Cornwall’s important marine and coastal wildlife are a concern and we urge the need for government to implement a national marine litter action plan to address the main sources of litter in the UK’s seas from the public, fishing, shipping and sewage-related debris.
Details of how you can help with our beach cleans that happen at coastal places can be found via individual property pages on the Beach cleans at National Trust places. And there is lots of useful information on the Marine Conservation Society website.
2015 was another challenging year for wildlife, with many new issues coming to the fore, say experts at the National Trust as part of its annual weather and wildlife review.
The conservation charity, which looks after almost 250,000 hectares of land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, conducts the review across its places every year to help paint a picture of how the year’s weather has affected the nation’s wildlife against a long-term backdrop of decline for 60% of species in the UK.
The autumn and winter of 2015 has seen some unseasonably mild weather with day time temperatures remaining in double figures far longer than usual – and even night-time temperatures have remained very high. 2015 is now the warmest year on record, thought to be the result of man-made climate change and El Nino. This mild weather has affected wildlife and the natural world at many of our places.
Strawberries are still fruiting in gardens in Devon and in the Chilterns our ranger team has seen flowers on holly trees, cherry trees in blossom, rooks starting to nest and the grass continuing to grow.
Crowd pleasers such as snowdrops and daffodils are flowering at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire. While on the South Downs, catkins are already opening on hazel trees and hawthorn has been spotted coming into flower.
Pete Brash, an animal ecologist for the National Trust, said: “The weather has been ridiculously mild which is having an impact on our wildlife. We’ve seen swifts, swallows and sand martins and there are a number of flowers in bloom very early including dandelions and even cowslips.
“As we’re seeing the effects of climate change on our winters, nature is simply taking a gamble. If the swallows, for instance, can find sufficient food to maintain good condition then they can be first on the best territories ahead of breeding season next year. But, they have to weigh up the associated risks of staying and not being able to find sufficient food and warmth versus the risks of travelling 3000 miles.
“What could be a worry, however, is that long-range forecasts are predicting that January might see considerably colder weather on the way, which could cause problems.”
Yesterday MPs voted in Parliament to allow fracking in National Parks.
Here is the response of the National Trust to this vote:
“The decision by MP’s to allow fracking to happen under National Parks does nothing to allay our real concerns about the impact of fracking on some of the most precious landscapes in the UK. The Trust stands by its call for the Government to rule out fracking in the most sensitive areas – protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks – and make them frack-free zones. There is a need to ensure that regulations offer sufficient protection to our treasured natural and historic environment.”
“There is an urgent need for more evidence about the impact of fracking on the hydrology, ecology and geology of landscapes. This is needed for informed decision-making about any future for fracking in the UK.”
The National Trust is a member of a wider coalition of ten organisations that published a report called ‘Are we fit to frack?‘
My first day at the climate change Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris was one of acclimatisation and finding out where things where. Coffee sellers – check, travel pass – check. Press rooms where groups of nations would be committing to stuff – check.