Scalloway School Redd Up at Burwick Beach
On May 15th Scalloway School will return to Burwick to redd up the beach for the third year running. Pupils, staff and volunteers will set out at 10am and walk from the school along the 2km track to Burwick where they will spend the day clearing the beach of all the rope, netting and other litter that has washed ashore in the last 12 months.
Scalloway School first visited the beach back in 2013 where they were greeted by an almost overwhelming quantity of bruck spoiling a truly stunning area of coastline. Over the course of the day pupils and staff rose to the challenge, working tirelessly to remove 250 bags of litter and larger items, including a kitchen sink, from the beach.
The amount of rope, netting and mussel pegs washed ashore at Burwick was notable and so the following year pupils invited local fish and mussel farmers to help out and highlight the level of litter in the marine environment. In 2014 Scalloway School was also joined by a number of helpers from various local agencies, including Shetland Amenity Trust, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Together they removed a further 248 bags of litter weighing in at 2.5 tonnes. During this redd up pupils collected common types of marine litter separately including 311 plastic gun cartridges, 135 bits of plastic wadding and 176 whole mussel pegs. They followed this up with additional work in the classroom, including recycled artwork and contacting local business about the items they found on the beach, for which they won a 2014 Shetland Environmental Award.
This year Scalloway pupils have written to local MSP Tavish Scott who has accepted their invitation and will be joining them at next Friday’s Redd Up along with Harry Rose, Field Studies Adviser with Shetland Islands Council, and Jane Outram, Environmental Awareness Officer at Shetland Amenity Trust who has helped at this Redd Up since 2013. This year Jane will be accompanied by Edinburgh-based Artist, Julia Barton who is hoping to work in partnership with the Trust to bring her Littoral Art and Science Project to Shetland later this year. The Littoral Project focuses on marine litter and Julia has already worked with communities on the West Coast of Scotland to examine and draw attention to beach litter and its effects. During Julia’s trip to Shetland she will visit local schools and beaches, meet agencies who may be interested in being part of the potential project, and develop funding applications with the Trust to undertake a two year project in the isles.
Jane Outram from the Trust said “Da Voar Redd Up demonstrates what can be achieved when a community comes together. Collectively the volunteers make a huge difference to the local environment, improving the visual amenity and removing litter that is harmful to birds, marine life and fishing equipment. As shown in the Burwick Redd Up, much of what is gathered comes from the sea, or what people leave on the beach, and this is why we are looking to work with Julia to expand her project to the islands. Da Voar Redd Up is well supported by our local schools and, while this is a good way for the pupils to see what is coming from the sea and the dangers this can present, through the littoral project we hope to build on this to help pupils realise there are other things they can do to help prevent marine, and other types of litter, as well as cleaning it up. We have contacted local schools to see if the project would be of interest, with a very good response, and now hope to raise the funding required.”
Julia Barton added: “Da Voar Redd Up is a fantastic community initiative, and one many other areas are envious of. It is great to see the volunteers coming out year on year and I can’t wait to experience it for myself. The work I have done on the West Coast of Scotland really opened my eyes to the common types of litter found and its various sources. I am keen to see what similarities and differences there are between what is found in Shetland and Mainland Scotland. Being situated at the crossroads of the North Atlantic, beach litter could come to Shetland from a wide variety of countries and it will be interesting to see just how far some of the litter may have travelled.
“I have been in discussions with the Trust for a while and we have designed an exciting two year project which we are now looking to fund. If successful, the project will not only leave a lasting legacy in the isles but much further afield, as I hope to use the research I gather to take to other areas as well as feed into exhibitions and events I hope to hold on Mainland Scotland, including Holyrood, to draw attention to beach litter and what the government, businesses and communities can do to prevent it.”