1. ITV Report

Giant litter pick reveals extent of rubbish problem along Northern Ireland's famous Causeway coastline

  • Video report by ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke

One of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the United Kingdom is fighting off a colossal rubbish problem.

An extreme litter pick close to the Giant's Causeway on Thursday revealed the extent of the issue as volunteers pulled tractor tyres, lobster pots and countless plastic bottles from out among the rocks along the coves and bays around the Unesco World Heritage Site.

A tractor tyre was among the rubbish collected by volunteers along the Giant's Causeway coastline. Credit: PA

This unique area is home to an abundance of wildlife, including dolphins, seals, porpoise and sea birds, and the Giant's Causeway site attracts over one million visitors every year.

The litter pick was organised by the National Trust, who manage this stretch of coastline, and was the third one since last April. Two tonnes of rubbish were collected from these remote beaches in a second rubbish collection in August.

Much of the litter is washed up on the shore by high tides and storms where it can become lodged in rocks, making it hard to remove. As these coves can only be accessed by swimming to them, the charity approached local outdoor activity providers for help.

The coves and bays can only be accessed by swimming to them. Credit: ITV News

Fiona Bryant, coastal officer for the National Trust in Northern Ireland, said: "With the mixture of different clubs - coasteering, surf and a dive school - along with fishing vessels, it has been really helpful to get into each of the bays and make an impact by lifting the litter there," she said.

ITV News accompanied some of the volunteers on their litter pick and witnessed two huge bags filled with litter in just 20 minutes.

Volunteers collected two huge bags of litter in just 20 minutes. Credit: ITV News

Ms Bryant told ITV News: "There's absolutely loads of rubbish in each of those bays and it comes in on high tides and on storm surge. And there's a lot of it gathering it up over the years in each of those bays.

"And over time there's rubbish that's in underneath the rocks, the grass has grown up around it.

"so it's just accumulating over time and because it's inaccessible nobody's been able to do anything about it.

Diving groups and other local clubs helped in the litter picking effort. Credit: ITV News

"It's harmful to marine life; there's a negative impact on the environment.

"Today we saw dolphins, two schools of dolphins, seals, there's breeding seabird colonies there and we know plastic is having a negative impact on the environment so it's important to try and collect some of it now particularly while it's still big pieces before it breaks down in microplastics and that's when it has its worst impact."

Ms Bryant hoped the public's attitude was changing and encouraged them to keep picking up their litter - along with any they may find on beaches around the country- and take it home with them.

Meanwhile, volunteers are hoping to make this extreme litter pick a regular event as they make a giant effort to preserve the wildlife and this special place for generations to come.