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COLONSAY COMMUNITY COUNCIL

KEEPING COLONSAY CLEAN CAMPAIGN

In the Autumn of 2012, Colonsay Community Council launched a Five - Year campaign to make Colonsay the first Hebridean island to be free of rubbish and litter. The campaign was a great success and it has been renewed for a further five years, to September 2022. The project has now been transferred to Colonsay Tourism Marketing Group, and has the support of certain local businesses including Colonsay Bookshop, Colonsay Brewery and Colonsay Estate. The co-ordinator is Kevin Byrne and we now have a rolling all-year-round campaign in place, with the ambition to make TWO complete sweeps of our 50 miles of coastline each year.

How to Help this highly successful campaign:

1. Zero-tolerance. Leave no litter, not even orange peel - if you do, others will follow suit. If you see a bit of litter, please pick it up.

2. Always bring a bag when you go to the beach and look out for fresh flotsam and jetsam. Even those tiny bits of string and plastic can be used for nesting material and can be ingested by young birds, so encourage the children to lend a hand (well above the waterline, avoiding glass and foreign objects and under close supervision).

3. Adopt your own "special place". It might be anywhere at all, maybe a section of popular sandy beach, or maybe some remote and seldom-visited cove, choose your spot and make a point of sprucing it up whenever you can. Whether you live here, or come every year, or perhaps can only visit once every few years, it will be a great help, and it will be your own secret place. Of course, if you are lucky, somebody else will have chosen the same place and you will be amazed at how little rubbish you find.

4. Join the weekly Coastal Clean-up. We usually meet on Saturday morning, 10.00 until Noon, and help is very welcome. Sometimes there is a poster at the shop to announce the meeting place, but you can always find out at the Bookshop or just contact Kevin Byrne, byrne[at]colonsay.org.uk Tel: 01951 200320

 

Progress Report:

This effort has been a brilliant success, so that Colonsay is once again "The Gem of the Sea", as celebrated in traditional song. The summer of 2018 marked the sixth year of the project and we are delighted to see that neighbouring communities are joining in, e.g. Oban, Tiree etc. Now that all pre-existing rubbish has been removed, we are dealing with fresh material as it comes ashore and in 2017 we started to record it in detail. We started on March 17th and by July 1st had recovered:

Bin Bags 5 gallon drums Fishbox Nets Rope Plastic floats Wheel /tyre Old creel Misc
151
22
16
220kg
40kg
4
2
7
14

Full details of the above summary are at foot of page

From this map, you can see how far we had reached by Easter 2017; progress is hopefully much the same in others years, and we work in an anti-clockwise direction so as to keep ahead of Iris growth and minimise disturbance to ground-nesting birds. (By coincidence, this map also shows progress on our second sweep by 25th August 2018!):

 

 

The History of the Campaign

We started by scouring the island. Every roadside, lochside and path was checked in the first winter, after which there was to be "zero-tolerance" for litter, meaning that everyone is urged to pick up and dispose of any litter just as soon as they notice it. This really works - even an occasional crisp packet or paper tissue seems to act as an inducement for other people to create litter.

The main problem, of course, was centred upon Marine Litter, the material that is washed up daily along our 50 miles of tideline. Although various beaches had been regularly cleaned in the past, no comprehensive approach to the entire coast had ever been attempted and at least one person present at the initial meeting went so far as to say "It can't be done!"

All the same, work on the coastline began on 17th March 2013, and in that first year there was almost overwhelming enthusiasm and support from local residents, family and friends and from our summer visitors. Two-hourly sessions were organised twice a week and on some occasions more than twenty volunteers turned out. Of course, in that first year, we had to clear not merely the tideline but for a considerable distance behind it, to discover and remove windblown items such as plastic bottles and bags. In that first year we filled over 1,250 bin bags and had an equivalent volume in ropes, lorry wheels, refrigerators, fish-boxes, gas cylinders, beer kegs, plastic floats, fishing nets etc. One regular supporter amassed an interesting collection of Edwardian beer bottles, the stoppers of which are marked with the year. This enormous volume of material was brought to central collection points by volunteers on quad-bikes, including Pedie MacNeill, Liam McNeill and Donald Ross, and was then loaded into Argyll & Bute lorries by George Leppard and Danny Hamilton.

Each subsequent year has become much easier and by now all the litter is freshly arrived and neatly arranged along the high-water mark. All the same, we do need help, whether by individual private forays or by assisting the weekly joint effort. Almost all the work is now being undertaken by a dedicated handful of people and, if it is to continue into the future, we need to know that the effort is worthwhile and valued. This chart gives a picture of typical progress - this material is coming ashore with every tide, one can easily imagine how quickly our shoreline could become an unsightly zone of hazard to humans and to all wildlife if we do not maintain our momentum:

Date Section Bags

5 gallon
Drums

Fish
Box

Nets Rope

Pink
float

Wheel
/ tyre

Old
creel

Misc Helpers
2503 To Port Mor
10
2
1
~
~
2803 Port Easdail
10
2
2
100kg
~
~
0104 To Dun Gallain
5
2
12kg
~
~
0504 To Port Lobh
13
1
2
25kg
~
~
0804 To Turnigil
7
1
1
Rubber dildo 15x4cm
~
1504 To Plaide Mhor
13
1
3
2
1
Grill top
1
1604 Port Mor
1
~
~
2304 Kiloran Bay
1
~
~
2804 Port Easdail
10
50 gal. drum
Gen public
0405 Spion Kop
10
~
~
0805 Ardskenish
16
4
1
3 x 5ft pl. lid
~
0805 Traigh nam Barc
10
2
1
Tv set ; bikini top
~
0905 Garvard
10
1
1
£20 note
~
0905 Balerominmor
13
1
100kg
1
1
Oyster bag
8
1305 Machrins
4
60 kg plastic wrap
8
2005 Kiloran
4
3
2905 Cable Bay to Srath an Aoil
4
5
20 kg

 

Municipal plastic litter bin;
52ft x 2.5" plastic pipe

~
0306 Baleromindubh
4
3
1
3 kg
2
2 x 5 gallons used oil
~
1506 Loch Staosnaig
4
2
3
~
1606 Pier to Glassard
4
2
2806 Glassard
5
~
0107 Glassard to Riasg Buidhe
2
1
Oyster bag
4
   

N.B. Date indicates date of uplift and final disposal of cached material, rather than dates of actual beach-cleaning.

In case you have stumbled upon this page by accident, Colonsay is a beautiful island in the Hebrides with about 130 inhabitants. Just search online to find out more or use the "Links" facility at the foot of this page.

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