Shocking pictures show Norfolk's beauty spots littered with balloons

A pink balloon found on a Norfolk beach
One of the many balloons found this year littering Norfolk's beaches. Credit: Elizabeth Beston

Balloons and sky-lanterns have been found by litter-pickers strewn across beauty spots, endangering animals that can get trapped in them.

Photos taken along the Norfolk coast since May show dozens of discarded balloons, as well as wet wipes, drinks cans, food packaging and fishing gear.

About 60 balloons, or balloon fragments, featured in about half of the beach clean-ups, raising alarm amongst environmental campaigners.

It is an issue that ITV News Anglia championed this summer with its What a Waste campaign, encouraging people to become "Waste Warriors".

The recent haul of celebratory rubbish has promoted Norfolk County Council and the North Norfolk Beach Cleaners Collective to renew its calls for people to choose other ways to mark important events.

The council suggests more environmentally friendly ways to celebrate special occasions, like using giant bubbles, banners, streamers, or flying kites.

Balloons were found in more than half of beach clean ups this year Credit: Elizabeth Beston

Cllr Eric Vardy, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste, said: "These pictures highlight a problem that’s unfortunately still all too common.

"It’s shocking to see otherwise beautiful areas of our coastline, including the wonderful stretches of coastline in the division I represent, littered in this way.

The council want people and organisations to sign its Balloon & Sky Lantern Charter, and make a pledge to stop using plastic products that can harm wildlife.

People pledge publicly not to release products, or allow them to be released on their land, and use environmentally friendly alternatives instead of balloons.

Credit: Elizabeth Beston

Elizabeth Beston from the North Norfolk Beach Cleaners Collective, said: "We have recorded nearly 60 balloons or balloon fragments since May on the North Norfolk Coast."

But she warned that the real number was likely to be much higher across the whole of the county.

"I understand how fun, beautiful and poignant balloons can be for different occasions, but with such great alternatives available, it really is time we chose a better way to celebrate or remember loved ones - ways that don't harm the wildlife that Norfolk is famous for," Ms Beston said.

The Charter follows on from bans already in place in parts of the country which prohibit the release of helium balloons or sky lanterns on council land, including Norfolk County County property.

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