Beaches in the North are among the dirtiest in Britain and Northern Ireland
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Beaches in the North are among the dirtiest in Britain and Northern Ireland

BEACHES in the North are the worst in Britain and Northern Ireland for litter, new figures show.

The findings were published in the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean report for 2016.

Over 300 beaches were surveyed, including Ballyhornan Strand North, Browns Bay, Kilkeel North and Rathlin Church Bay in Northern Ireland.

A total of 3,854 individual pieces of litter were collected from the four beaches – an average of 895 pieces of litter per 100 meters.

That is a nine per cent increase on 2015, which found 820 items of litter along the same stretches of coastline.

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The findings mean that Northern Ireland’s beaches have the highest litter density for the second year running.

In better news, the report found a huge drop in the amount of plastic bags washing up on British beaches.

In 2015, an average of 11 plastic bags were found per 100 meters of coastline, but for 2016 that figure had fallen to just under seven – a decrease of almost 40 per cent and lowest number in the last decade.

The Marine Conservation Society said the introduction of a 5p levy on single-use plastic bags over the last five years was behind the decrease.

The charity’s beach watch manager Lauren Eyles said: "In the last decade, our Great British Beach Clean volunteers have found an average of 10 single use carrier bags for every 100 metres of coastline cleaned.

"This year, for the first time since the charges were introduced, we've seen a significant drop in the number and that can only be as a result of the 5p charge which is now in place in all the home nations.

"It vindicates the charge, which we predicted would be good news for the marine environment. Thanks to our thousands of fantastic volunteers who collect beach litter data, we can now see the impact these charges have had."

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English and Northern Irish beaches saw the largest fall, with more than a 50 per cent decrease in the amount of plastic bags detected as part of September’s clean up.