MORE than 140 bags of rubbish including footballs, a life-sized mannequin and a full-sized fridge have been recovered as part of an attempt to clean up an island beauty spot.
The 12 volunteers on Inchkeith Island in the Firth of Forth also gathered up safety helmets and a smaller fridge as they worked to try to keep the 57-acre bird sanctuary safe for wildlife ahead of the breeding season.
The initiative was sparked when the Forth Seabird Group asked the Forth Estuary Forum for help to target the “worrying litter levels” amid claims they were putting wildlife at risk.
Ron Morris, a member of the Forth Seabird Group and Fife Seal Group, said: “In recent times the island has become a very important sanctuary for a wide variety of breeding seabirds and was recently designated as a grey seal ‘haul-out site’, on account of the numbers of grey seal pups born there each autumn.
“The amount of litter and rubbish has also presented serious threats to the wildlife dependent upon the island for reproduction and sanctuary.
“Although the removal of this very large amount of litter and rubbish from the island’s shores only represents a fraction of the true amount present, it has nevertheless enhanced the amenity of the island, as well as rendering some key areas safer for wildlife, with the timing of this exercise being of particular significance due to the imminent seabird breeding season.”
It is understood that many of the items found on the beach – including the large fridge and the tabletop fridge – had been dumped elsewhere before the tides carried them to the island.
Other interesting finds included a message in a bottle written by a primary school pupil from Berwick-upon-Tweed, and more than 30 footballs.
Volunteer David Ross said he had always been “saddened” to see the accumulations of seaborne and windblown litter which has gathered on these beaches over the years.
“This beach clean has been a tremendous opportunity to improve the quality of at least part of the island’s coastline,” he added.
Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Inchkeith is such an iconic island in the Forth Estuary, and a crucial habitat of national significance for seabirds. And with the new crossing bringing international attention to the area, this was a vital area to clean up.
“The huge amount of litter removed demonstrates that we have much work to do in persuading the country that it’s vital to dispose of litter responsibly.”
Permission for the clean-up was given by Sir Tom Farmer, who owns the island, while the city council supported the initiative by removing rubbish transferred to the mainland at Granton.
Message in bottle turns up on beach
A MESSAGE in a bottle written by a schoolboy has been found at Inchkeith Island more than three years after he wrote it.
The boy, whose name is Jamie, went to school more than 50 miles away in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland.
The bottle was found yesterday by the team of litter-pickers working to clean up the island in the Firth of Forth.
In his letter, Jamie explains that he is studying coasts and waves and asks for the note to be returned to his home address. The boy is no longer a pupil at the school but the Forth Estuary Forum is now trying to contact him to let him know where and when his bottle was found.
The team of litter pickers also collected 33 footballs, a tabletop fridge and a full-sized fridge.
They picked up three safety helmets, a full-sized shop mannequin and a total of 140 bags of rubbish.