Selsey Great British Beach Clean Results 2019

Volunteers and local litter prevention campaigners gathered in Selsey for the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Great British Beach Clean weekend, on September 21st. The annual litter picking event allows organisations to collect large amounts of data, on a national scale, about the types of waste and pollution affecting our beaches. Sarah Hughes, Chichester District Council’s (CDC) Community Wildlife Officer, organised the clean and survey at East Beach, under the CDC and Southern Water ‘Selsey Bathing Water Enhancement Project’, with the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (MWHG) attending to help run the event.  

Volunteers preparing to start the beach clean © Nicola Timney 2019

The day of the litter pick was due to be sunny and warm, however organisers were met with very intense onshore winds and a rolling sea, preventing the Mulberry Divers from completing their underwater litter pick. Instead, the divers joined MWHG volunteers and the CDC community wardens to initiate arriving volunteers and to prevent the Against Litter tent from blowing away! Despite the conditions, 48 undeterred volunteers turned up to take part and, once split into teams, they set off to clean and survey the beach. Upon returning, the volunteers were given a free BBQ as a thank you for their hard work, generously cooked by the Selsey & District Lions with produce from local butchers, Ian Francis and Sons.

Selsey & District Lions Club serving the BBQ © Nicola Timney 2019

While the beach clean was underway, volunteers and the passing public were able to visit mobile exhibitions on display, from Southern Water and the West Sussex County Council’s (WSCC) Waste Prevention Team. The exhibitions showcased different ways to recycle and keep bathing waters clean, and beach goers were given free eco-friendly products, including bamboo toothbrushes, plus waste-saving food recipes, to take home. A special sculpture, created from old household materials by WSCC’s Waste Prevention Team member Adam Swain, was also on show. The longevity of this piece serves as a reminder for the lasting effects of short-term use plastic, particularly on wildlife. Sparky the cormorant has a beak made from the end of a hoover and wings crafted from the casings of unwanted remote controls. See if you can spot the other electrical items used to build Sparky’s body. 

Sparky the cormorant by Adam Swain © Nicola Timney 2019

Once the beach clean was finished, the volunteers returned with 31kg of rubbish, totalling over 700 pieces of litter. The haul came to slightly less than the 32kg of rubbish collected the previous year, which had consisted of over 900 individual pieces. Volunteers who are familiar with the beach noted that the shingle seemed in better condition than it was during the 2018 East beach clean and that most litter was distributed further away from the beach front, where the footfall is higher and food is consumed more often. Common items found included 92 pieces of food and drink packaging, 99 bits of polystyrene, 56 pieces of fishing equipment, and 14 bags of dog faeces. See the full results compared with last year’s survey, below.

Click on the charts to see the information in full screen mode.

2018 Results

2019 Results

Common Litter Items Found



Cigarette stubs



Plastic pieces <2.5cm



Plastic pieces >2.5cm <50cm



Fishing paraphernalia pieces



Plastic and metal caps/ lids



Plastic rope pieces



Plastic and foil food wrappers



Plastic cutlery/ straws



Bagged dog faeces



Metal scraps, barbed wire and mesh pieces




The MWHG are very thankful to those who came out to take part in the survey and support the running of the event – your efforts make a big impact on the health of this local beach! As you can see from the results, keeping beaches and water clear of pollutants and waste is an ongoing process, so please join us again next year for the Great British Beach Clean and see the links below for tips on how to keep your local beach clear of litter.


Marine Conservation Society:

2 Minute Beach Clean:

Against Litter Campaign:

Post by Nicola Timney

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