Coastal Pollution

The United Kingdom has more than 20,000 km of coast line and 25% of our animals are found in our seas. Pollution and litter has an effect on everyone and can be a major cause of damage to the coastline.

Most major pollution incidents begin with pollution of offshore waters. Pollutants may be moved by the wind and tide towards the shore and eventually may contaminate estuaries and the shoreline. Another for is pollution entering the sea via rivers from land-based sources such as factories. Oil pollution also comes from offshore oil and gas platforms and from ships.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has well practised plans, including all the relevant emergency services, for both major and minor pollution incidents. There are also procedures for handling vessels that are involved in accidents.

Dealing with the pollution ashore is the task of the affected Local Authority and should be responded to with regards to the Tier response approach and their Operational Response Plans. The maritime local authorities are responsible for the clean-up of the beaches along their coastlines.

There are many areas that could be affected by coastal pollution.

Resources at Risk

  • Environmental resources.
  • Birds.
  • Marine life.
  • Marine animals.
  • Marine plant life.

Social and Economic Assets

  • Tourism.
  • Marine use.

If coastal pollution happens;

  • Avoid polluted areas and listen for advice and information on local radio stations.
  • Co-operate with organisations during any clean-up operation
  • Do not scavenge any cargo that may be washed ashore as it could be dangerous and is a criminal offence.