Beaches in Devon were left covered in litter and human waste after a weekend that saw sun worshippers flock to the coast as lockdown measures began to ease.
As temperatures soared in a mini heatwave, thousands flocked to the beaches to enjoy time outside their homes.
Afterwards, council staff were left stunned when they collected enough litter to fill 500 wheelie bins.
Workers discovered glass bottles, disposable barbecue trays, and even human faeces on a plastic picnic blanket at a beach in Teignbridge.
Teignbridge District Council tweeted: “Our staff (and residents) collected 500 wheelie bins worth of discarded litter from beaches and open spaces after the weekend, including glass bottles, cans & bbq trays.
Our staff (and residents) collected 500 wheelie bins worth of discarded litter from beaches and open spaces after the weekend, including glass bottles, cans & bbq trays. Please respect our communities and take your rubbish home with you . https://t.co/GG2TPQmZqO @RecycleDevon pic.twitter.com/QviJivaN3d— Teignbridge (@Teignbridge) June 2, 2020
“Please respect our communities and take your rubbish home with you.”
The council’s recycling chief, Alistair Dewhirst, told Devon Live: “Our staff have been working flat-out throughout the half-term week and this weekend to keep on top of the vast amounts of rubbish generated by visitors to our beaches and open spaces.
"This is on top of the additional pressures and risks they face daily in carrying out their work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic…
“It is completely unacceptable for people to leave their rubbish on the beaches for others to clear up."
Cllr Andrew McGregor, executive member for leisure services and open spaces, added: ““It’s really important that now, more than ever, we protect our local communities from the threat of coronavirus, and across Devon we’re asking people to continue to follow the social distancing guidelines, when out and about in public.
It was so sad to see Sefton's beautiful beaches left in such a mess over the weekend.— seftoncouncil (@seftoncouncil) June 1, 2020
On Sunday around 100 sacks were used to collect litter from Southport beach alone.
We urge people to be respectful and take your litter with you. Read the reaction here;https://t.co/vNNJsgxaIm pic.twitter.com/atZyN7lnmO
"But we’re also asking people to take their litter home with them, to follow the safety guidance on beaches and in the sea, and to respect local communities by keeping noise down and behaving responsibly.”
Pictures shared on social media show litter collected from beaches in other areas from over the weekend – including in Brighton, Galway and Sefton.
Crowds on beaches and cliffs at Durdle Door in Dorset also showed a "shocking" disregard for the area, a conservation charity has said.
The Jurassic Coast Trust described the "shocking events" of three people suffering serious injuries at the beauty spot after leaping from the top of the limestone arch, which is 200ft high.
Thousands of people were evacuated from the beach and surrounding cliff area to allow air ambulances to land.
Lucy Culkin, chief executive of the charity, said it had received hundreds of messages from members of the public since the weekend.
Seafront walk on #Brighton beach this am and litter-ally most bins were like this. If you visit the beach & the bins are full, take your rubbish home! And even better, stay at home to avoid #SecondWave. #thisisrubbish pic.twitter.com/gFIfrC6ORg— Dr Mari Martiskainen (@martiskainen) June 3, 2020
She said these highlighted the "appalling volume of litter" on beaches, including human waste, sanitary items and surgical masks and gloves, as well as disposable barbecues.
"The lack of respect for our coastline shown by some has deeply saddened our local communities and visitors alike," she said.
#galway this is absolutely vile. 45 minutes, 8 bags of rubbish from long Beach in Salthill before we could even dream of swimming. How can you not respect where you live? @GalwayCityCo need more on the ground supports and people need to respect our environment. pic.twitter.com/AiDWiHnhKb— Lisa Regan (@LisaReganPR) June 2, 2020
What is more shocking than the number of people risking lives by attending beaches in their thousands (as here at Durdle Door),is the disregard they have for their country and our planet. This litter would all have ended up in the sea had it not been for volunteers #savetheplanet pic.twitter.com/VDeQm1oLiV— Kevin (@Kevla7270) June 2, 2020
"It was clear to see that some had all but forgotten the guidelines of social distancing or welfare for themselves and others, or indeed any respect for the natural environment they were visiting.”
James Weld, the owner of the Lulworth Estate on which Durdle Door is situated, said the easing of lockdown restrictions to allow for unlimited travel in England had resulted in an "unacceptable influx of visitors”.