Kyle of Durness Beach Clean: Surfers Against Sewage Million Mile Clean

For Surfers Against Sewage Million Mile Beach Clean, we decided to tackle Old Grudie again. Old Grudie is situated between the two rivers that feed the Kyle of Durness and has beautiful views of the Kyle but unfortunately, it’s a bottleneck for plastic pollution. The Plastic@Bay team with the help of six volunteers removed a whopping 306 kg. The vast majority of pollution were parachute and flare fragments from years of Ministry Of Defence maneuvers on Cape Wrath, on the west side of the Kyle. The results are almost identical to those recorded at our last big clean of Old Grudie in September 2019.

To get an insight into the type of pollution collected at Old Grudie, Conor, our new Coastal Ranger, surveyed and analyzed a representative bag (Figure 2).  The data shows that the miscellaneous proportion made up of flare/parachute/webbing from MOD clearing dominates the pollution type in this area, by both particle number and weight distribution.

Figure 2 (a) Relative Proportion of Macropplastic, miscellaneous represents flare/parachutes and webbing from MOD. (b) The weight distribution of macroplastic, where macroplastic are defined as fragments between 5 cm and 50 cm. More details can be found in Conor’s report here.

Old Grudie is a hot spot of pollution. Parachute/flare/webbing from MOD maneuvers get washed into the sea around Cape Wrath. These fragments are denser than water, they sink and get entangles in kelp. Storm tides and storms surges bring debris from the seafloor ashore, while strong winds push them over the tide line where they accumulate and can be stored in the nearshore environment for years.

Figure 4. Parachute/flare/webbing fragments entangled in the kelp at Old Grudie, Kyle of Durness.

Plastic@Bay has spoken with MOD representatives about the ongoing problem of pollution caused by debris from MOD maneuvers, particularly around Old Grudie, Kyle of Durness, and in Balankeil Bay. We are now aware that MOD has started doing beach cleans around Cape Wrath. Yet, we are still finding new parachutes and flares, as well as the never-ending supply of historical debris from old maneuvers. We will persist in cleaning, and also keep an open dialogue with MOD to find solutions to this ongoing pollution problem.

Figure 4. Volunteers working hard cleaning Old Grudie and having well deserved tea break

“Worrying still was that these plastics were being removed from not only the beaches but also the dunes where they were embedded in the turf. The far side of Grudie still needs cleaned, and if this clean is to be indicative of what may be present on the far banks it is a horrid state of affairs. Not to end on a sour note, thanks to all were present on Saturday your efforts are massively appreciated and hopefully see you at future cleans.”

Conor Drummond, Coastal Ranger thoughts after organising his first volunteer based beach clean.

2 Replies to “Kyle of Durness Beach Clean: Surfers Against Sewage Million Mile Clean

  1. I complained to the MOD about that years ago – “wasn’t me” was their lying response.

    1. We bring it up regularly and we have obtained that they cleanup the Cape side. However, since most of it is in the water now, they should look down the wind and tide. We have also asked for financial support to pay for the man hours to remove their material (about a third of cleaning time on Balnakeil) but it wasn’t answered. Hopefully we will made progress at some point…

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