Arran joined in the Great British Beach Clean

from 14 to 17 September 2018


These beach cleans and data collections were conducted on the weekend of 14th-17th September 2018 (Blackwaterfoot on 28th due to pre-existing village commitments the preceding weekend). All villages were invited to participate through their village improvement organisations and also through an invitation on social media for individuals to come forward as organisers. Whiting Bay and Districts Improvements Association and Lamlash Improvements Association both conducted beach cleans in their own right. Blackwaterfoot had an amazing turnout of 44 people and other beach cleans were led by very committed volunteers and /or TAP steering committee members. All beach cleans had risk assessments conducted and lodged with the Marine Conservation Society and any participant who was not covered by the insurance of an existing organisation was covered by MCS. All organisers submitted data which was input by TAP, Marine Conservation Society provided charts illustrating the data. TAP also amalgamated the data and would like to thank MCS for their support in providing additional charts for Arran as a whole.

In preparation for this Arran-wide beach clean, TAP is grateful for the support of our Arran Coastguard who provided a fascinating briefing on keeping safe on Arran’s beaches delivered by Fiona Laing (Station Officer) and Tara Proud of the Marine Conservation Society who gave her illustrated talk by about the impact of plastic on our seas and sea-life.

Whilst the data from individual beaches provides interesting information, it has also been amalgamated to give a picture across Arran’s beaches. It should be noted that the North and North East of the island is not well-represented but we would hope that when we repeat this exercise next year that situation will be rectified and TAP will be working hard to provide advance information and to encourage all villages across the island to participate.

It is also TAP’s intention to try to address issues which have come to light as a result of this year’s surveys. In particular TAP will be working with NAC to try to solve the difficulties of litter disposal at Kilmory beach and other more remote locations. TAP will also be trying to work with visitors as much as possible to reduce the amount of litter from picnics and recreational use of our beaches but we must also be aware that some of this litter may be from islanders and we will be working to try to share information with islanders too.

When looking at the data it is important to remember that this is a ‘snapshot’ of what we found on the days we surveyed. It is also important to look at the data in context. For example, where small amounts of beach litter were found, the percentages are likely to be skewed and comparison with other beaches and the same beach over time are also likely to be distorted.


Approximately three quarters of the litter on Arran’s beaches is plastic with the next largest category being glass at 7% and remaining categories sharing smaller percentages of the total. The sources of this litter are public just under 35%, non-sourced 32% Fishing 22% (this includes angling and commercial fishing), shipping 5% and medical, fly-tipped, sewage related the remaining 6%.

On Arran much of the material categorised as ‘non-sourced’ is from historic. shore-line domestic waste disposal. It is pottery and glass which has been worn smooth and is therefore of little danger to both sea-life and people.

There are some issues to work on and TAP will be taking them forward in the coming year. For example, the education of beach users, the provision of wind-proof bins on our more remote beaches. North Ayrshire Council have been very helpful in providing litter pickers, bin bags and in disposing of the litter from our beach cleans and we will continue to work with them to find solutions to support more remote beaches. TAP is grateful for the support of NAC, the Marine Conservation Society, COAST, Eco-Savvy, the Co-op. The issue of plastic in our seas is complex, there is no quick answer but by working together and involving everyone we can do a lot to make Arran a beacon island where everyone Thinks About Plastic before they buy it, use it and dispose of it.

TAP would like to thank everyone who was involved in any way in these beach cleans and data collections. The resulting information provides an excellent baseline against which we can measure our progress in reducing plastic in the sea around Arran. The event was an amazing exercise in demonstrating the will of the people of Arran to work together for the benefit of our island. The issue transcends party politics and it is a privilege to have both our Arran councillors very actively involved.

The data collection indicates that the plastic on our beaches (and therefore in our seas) originates in some instances from outwith Arran. However, some of it is the result of the actions of visitors or residents and this is where we can make a difference!

A detailed breakdown of what was found and where it came from...

We have put together a full breakdown of the types of items collected during all the beachcleans that place on Arran as part of the Great British Beachclean. This includes pie charts showing Material Types and Sources. You can download this as a PDF.

See what we found on each beach...

Brodick Beach
Organiser: Simon Ross-Gill
Organisation responsible for this beach clean TAP (Think About Plastic-Arran)
NB. There are several organisations and individuals who clean this beach at other times.

This beach presents as clean on first inspection. However, there was an average of over one and a half items of litter per square metre. The ‘mix’ of material types found on this beach was more varied than on most of the other beaches surveyed with plastic items making up just over half the total litter found. The plastic items found were largely associated with snacks (sweets and crisp packets). The paper items were mostly cigarette related.

The proportion of items related to shipping is consistent with the towns status as a port but there is no evidence that the shipping related litter originates from Brodick harbour. However, it seems likely that at least some may originate from the ships which anchor off Brodick.

In common with many other beaches around Arran, glass and pottery fragments are almost certainly associated with old rubbish heaps which were situated along the coast here.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Brodick beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Organisers: Timothy Billings (Lamlash Improvements) and Jenny Stark (COAST)
Organisations responsible: Lamlash Beach and Margnaheglish Beach: Lamlash Improvements Association
Cordon: COAST

In total three separate 100m stretches were surveyed with considerable differences noticed between each area.


This beach had a mix of items with plastic accounting for just under half. There was evidence of litter from a variety of human activities which occur on the shore and in Lamlash Bay with evidence of shipping/sailing, angling and picnicking.

Here and elsewhere on Lamlash on Lamlash beaches there are fragments of disintegrating gabions from the old sea defences which have largely been removed (although are still present at Cordon).

The relatively high proportion of glass and pottery (and the consequential predominance of ‘un-sourced’ material on the pie chart is almost certainly linked to the historic village refuse site which was situated alongside this shore.

Lamlash Beach

Lamlash Beach was almost litter free with only 4 items being found in total. This beach is well-used by local walkers and dog walkers and holiday makers. It is also well-provided with litter bins adjacent to the shore. Residents along the sea-front litter pick and place rubbish in bins almost as soon as it is dropped thus reducing the likelihood of wind-blown litter ending up on the shore here.

(Although it was outside the survey area. A very large piece of wood with large metal fixings and bolts was found beside the slipway and a heavy section of sewage pipe was also outside the survey area. The position of these heavy items was consistent with them having been carried to shore during storms of the preceding weeks.

The very small number of items found produces skewed results and neither the proportions nor the percentages can be relied upon to be statistically significant Comparison between other beaches and across time will also be unreliable although the very small number of items is in itself a particularly interesting finding.


Plastic accounted for about 60% of the litter found on this beach with much of it being associated with angling. This finding is consistent with the popularity of King’s Cross point as a favourite spot for angling. This beach had the highest fishing related waste(as a source).

As on other beaches, the non-sources material and the relatively high proportion of smooth glass and pottery fragments is likely to be associated with the historic location of a domestic waste tip at Cordon.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on the beaches in Lamlash, including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Margnaheglish Shore
Lamlash Beach (Pier to The Ship)
Cordon to Kingscross
Whiting Bay (Sandbraes)
Organiser: Eric Kay
Organisation : Whiting Bay and Districts Improvement Association

The beaches at Whiting bay are cleaned regularly and first impressions reported by the beach clean organiser was that there was very little litter. However, a detailed search provided some surprising results in terms of the amount of litter collected.

This beach had one of the highest proportions of plastic recorded at 73%. There did not appear to be a particular source and a mixture of types of items were recorded. The metal present also originated from public and industrial/agricultural sources (e.g. drinks cans, barbed wire).

A small amount of litter on this beach may have been associated with dog walking (bagged dog faeces, two rubber balls (not necessarily dog-related0. However, we know that dog walkers are both regular responsible beach users and many dog walkers throughout the island remove litter from the beaches where they walk on a regular basis.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Sandraes beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Kildonan (Silversands)
Organiser: Zabdi Keen
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

There is a group of dedicated individuals who regularly clean this beach. This undoubtedly has a significant impact of the amount of litter as this beach is very popular and adjacent to a road which means it has a high number of beach users all year round.

This was the beach where the biggest proportion of plastic items were found (86 %). However, in total 50 items were found so care should be exercised in interpreting the data. Litter was found which may have resulted from recent building projects along the shore (e.g. insulation material and strapping bands). An extraordinary number of plastic bottles which had contained toiletries were found on the beach. It is not possible to identify the source of these. Possibilities include that they may have been wind-blown from the campsite on the shore line or have originated on another beach or even off-island and then transported to Silversands.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Silversands beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Organiser: Zabdi Keen
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

This beach was by far the most polluted of the beaches surveyed. The proportion of plastic was high at 86% but the amount of plastic found was the highest with a total of 376 items being collected in the survey area (almost 4 items per m2).

This beach was one of the most remote beaches surveyed and access from the land is by either a footpath or a rough track. The beach is quite well-used by walkers but is very unlikely to attract the numbers necessary to result in the amount of litter present. The beach is exposed to the prevailing south-westerly winds so prone to sea-borne litter.

There was clear evidence of attempts to collect rubbish but due to the remote nature of the beach and the lack of refuse bins large piles of rubbish had been piled above the high tide mark along the shore.

There were many pieces of plastic and a high proportion of rope associated with fishing and shipping which also provides evidence that some of the beach litter has been sea borne.

Kilmory is clearly a beach where those using the beach have a will to deal with the litter problem but the location and the nature of the materials (some being heavy) result in it being difficult for individuals to dispose of some of this litter appropriately. A small boat on the shore has scores of items of litter deposited inside it.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Kilmory beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Organiser: Ellen McMaster
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

Another popular beach and one with relatively easy access, Blackwater foot came jointly as the beach with the highest proportion of plastic of the beaches surveyed (86.5%) and about 50% of the litter found was attributable to members of the public. Fast food containers and picnic items/confectionary wrappers featured highly. Sadly, one of the items found was a disposable BBQ. Not surprisingly, given the location of the beach 3 golf balls were found. However, we hope these were genuinely ‘lost’ and not abandoned!

The number of people who supported this beach clean (44) was amazing and possibly indicates that this is a beach where education and information could make a difference. There is clearly a strong will to make a difference.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Blackwaterfoot beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Organiser: Mark Harwood
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

The number of plastic items found within the survey area was very small (14) resulting in this data having no statistical significance. The cross- section of items and the sources were however, broadly in line with findings across the island – some items were clearly the remnants of picnics or lost property, whilst others were deposited by the sea. Wire was also found on the beach.

Local anecdotal knowledge reports that debris from the fishing industry was much more of a problem in previous years.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Pirnmill beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.