DIRECT ACTION . . . Kevin Parker on the north Solway shore near Annan
The shore next to the final southerly section of the Annandale Way walking route from Waterfoot to Newbie Barns is becoming increasingly covered with washed up plastic.
Local residents say that while there has been a problem for many years the volume of man-made debris has been increasing.
Concerned regular users of the path, which has scenic views across the estuary to Criffel and the Cumbrian mountains, have joined local voluntary groups in clearing the foreshore and path of debris washed up by high tides.
Annan resident Kevin Parker and his wife Susan, who regularly walk their family Labradors on the route, raised their concerns with both the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
When no offcial action took place following a storm which washed large quantities of plastic ashore last month oil industry worker Kevin decided to take direct action himself.
Kevin, who is based on a support ship, controls remotely operated marine vehicles in oil felds such as the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
But when he is back home in Ednam Street he likes nothing better than walking beside the Solway.
He said: “After a recent storm the stretch near Newbie was in a terrible state. The path was knee-deep in plastic debris. I was absolutely astonished as it seemed to extend to almost a mile of coastline.
“It was an eyesore but what really disturbed me was that it illustrated the problems we are all facing with the amount of plastic in the sea.
“The health and environmental consequences of this were really brought home to people by David Attenburgh’s ‘Blue Planet’ TV programme.”
He said that while the Newbie stretch of the Solway, because of its location, was in the direct path of fierce incoming tides, it was particularly vulnerable to material being washed up.
The volume of plastic following the recent bad weather, he explained, was exceptional.
Kevin told how he contacted both SEPA and the local authority but was disappointed when neither offered to assist with a clear-up.
He said: “I thought to myself that too many people walk by problems these days and decided that I would clear-up the plastic myself.
“Over several days I filled bags and bags of the stuff.
“I think it is important that more people realise the extent of the problem on our doorstep — and around the world.”
Kevin stressed that he did not want to diminish efforts of voluntary groups and other individuals who also devoted time to clear up that stretch of the Solway.
His efforts were praised by Lockerbie couple David and Ann Barron, both litter campaigners, who fear the Solway might gain a ‘plastic coast’ reputation.
Retired engineer David, a community councillor, said: “We had decided to help clear up the plastic ourselves but when we arrived most of it had been removed.
“The volume of plastic was beyond belief. All credit to Kevin and any other volunteers who helped remove the debris. It was a job well done.”
SEPA Chief Offcer John Kenny told DnG24 that the agency took pollution in the marine environment extremely seriously.
He said: “The issue of ocean plastics is a multi-agency one and we play an active role in the reduction of waste plastics through our regulatory regime and working to increase the production and use of high quality recyclate keeping plastics.
“The removal of ocean litter from beaches is a matter for the landowner.”
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Dumfries and Galloway Council added: “The shoreline in Annandale and Eskdale belongs to Crown Estates, however, we welcome the assistance of volunteers in tidying up these areas.
“Our Council is happy to support any litter-picking efforts by individuals or groups by providing litter pickers with such things as gloves and black bags.”