Sculpture highlights issue of litter on North Tyneside's beaches

A life-size seal sculpture made from litter collected from North Tyneside’s coastline is helping launch a new anti-plastics campaign.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 11:52 am
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 11:41 am
Young Mayor Suzie Mckenzie, artists Amy Welch and Beth Huttly, and North Tyneside Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE.

Plastic bottles, straws, empty food cartons, face coverings and plastic bags are just some of the items included in the 6ft creation, installed by North Tyneside Council.

Thousands of tonnes of rubbish, including single-use plastics, are removed from the borough’s beaches all-year round by the council, as well as community-spirited residents and local businesses

In an effort to raise awareness of the issue and help people visualise the impact their actions have on marine life and the environment, the seal sculpture will be installed in Whitley Bay before touring the borough’s coastline.

Its installation will also launch a single-use plastics campaign, which will see coastal water drinking fountains installed, the involvement of businesses and young people and social media hints and tips, to encourage residents to minimise their use.

North Tyneside Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE said: “Making sure we have a clean, safe, attractive and sustainable borough is really important to the council and many of our residents and businesses.

“That’s why, back in 2019, we declared a climate emergency in the borough, to ensure we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint – and this campaign is another feature of the many ongoing projects for a more sustainable North Tyneside.

“We want to ensure our beautiful borough can be enjoyed and protected for generations to come, but residents and businesses hold the key to our success, and I would really encourage everyone to take action.

"We can all make small changes, such as reusing bottles, to reduce single-use plastics and our impact on the environment.”

Coun Carl Johnson, cabinet member for Environment and Transport, added: “Single-use plastics create avoidable waste and the detrimental impact and damage to the environment and wildlife is huge.

“The sculpture reflects the unfortunate reality of litter left on our coastline, and like our residents, we are tired of the mess left behind.

"We hope its installation will open many conversations amongst visitors and residents alike, and lead to a cleaner and safer environment, free of single-use plastics, that we can all enjoy.”

The campaign has the backing of North Tyneside’s Young Mayor, Suzie McKenzie, 15, and the Youth Council.

Suzie said: “Reducing our impact on the environment is something that the Youth Council and I are really passionate about – as are loads of young people.

"We’re really excited about being part of the campaign and looking forward to sharing our ideas and showcasing all the work we’re doing.”

The sculpture was commissioned by North Tyneside Council and created by local artists Beth Huttly and Amy Welch.

Beth said: "Environmental awareness is such an important topic to raise, and one which we are very passionate about. We hope the seal will draw attention to this issue.”

It sits on a bed of sand inside a perspex cube, made by Killingworth-based Harper Signs.

It will tour the North Tyneside coastline, moving to one of six locations every two weeks, starting outside the Spanish City Dome, to raise as much awareness as possible.