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Clearing up after Emma

As strong winds battered North Wales last week, it reminded me that Holyhead Marina was severely hit by winds of up to 80mph during Storm Emma back in March. As well as about 80 boats being either severely damaged or sunk, a huge quantity of polystyrene was released into sea by the break-up of the pontoons where the boats were moored. After a slow start, the authorities finally realised the severity of this pollution and a major clean-up was undertaken - an estimated 40 tonnes of polystyrene was recovered from the marina and neighbouring beaches. However, a huge amount more was already heading out around the Anglesey coast and beyond…

I’ve been really impressed with Snowdonia Canoe Club’s response to this severe pollution incident. Rallied by the chairman Kay, club trips have focused on collecting the polystyrene blocks - which are breaking up and getting smaller all the time - from inaccessible beaches in the area. Clearly a huge number of individual polystyrene balls are now out there for ever, a significant proportion of which may be entering the food chain, but it would have been a lot worse without volunteer help from the club and others locally. Members of the club have shown they are committed to protecting their local environment and that they don’t take the fantastic North Wales coastline for granted. This is especially relevant now with major developments in the offing such as Wylfa B (new nuclear), a new line of pylons to be erected across the island and a tunnel under the Menai Straits to carry the increased electric capacity, and a 3rd Menai bridge crossing to relieve traffic congestion.

Anita and I joined a club litterpick last weekend, after a lively hour playing in the tide race at Penrhyn Mawr. There was a stark contrast between the raw beauty of the sea off north-west Anglesey and the amount of plastic and polystyrene washed up at Abraham’s Bosom, just south of South Stack.

Our group spent a few hours picking up and bagging the litter, collecting over 20 bin bags full of waste of all varieties in the process. Then it was hauled up the cliff to some helpers at the top on a pulley system, with members of Knottingley Canoe Club mucking in even though they’d only stopped there briefly for lunch…thanks guys!

A huge thank you to all who took part, and if there are any other groups out there who feel they can help with this ongoing monumental effort then please get in touch. Sometimes, even in such depressing circumstances, you just have to smile and get on with it…

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