Many beaches in Northern Ireland were “absolutely trashed” over the weekend by people who left piles of rubbish behind them, the National Trust said.
Toby Edwards, the trust’s beach manager at Portstewart Strand, said his area was the worst he had seen it in seven years working in Northern Ireland.
He said other north coast beaches in County Londonderry had also been “trashed”.
Thousands flocked to the coast as NI enjoyed days of sunny, hot weather.
Mr Edwards said National Trust staff spent 13-hour shifts cleaning beaches over the weekend, as some members of the public discarded bottles, cans, nappies and other rubbish on the sand, despite being close to bins.
‘Very frustrating’ I’m really quite upset about it because it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it.”
His team filled a pick-up truck 16 times on Sunday evening, with bin bags full of litter they had picked up off Portstewart Strand.
“It’s obviously very frustrating for us as a conservation charity, where we are trying to look after this amazing place,” Mr Edwards told the BBC’s Talkback programme.
He added that it was a “real challenge” to finance the clean-up operation.
On Sunday evening, the beach manager posted a video of the aftermath of the operation on the trust’s Facebook page, thanking volunteers for helping out.
“I’m really quite upset about it because it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Mr Edwards said in the video.
“We just wish that everyone would take their rubbish home with them. It costs us about £25,000 a year in waste disposal charges for everything that either gets washed up, or in the majority, left on the beach.”
Mr Edwards told Talkback that money spent on rubbish removal could be better spent improving leisure facilities or managing the dunes system and invasive species at the strand.
Ian Humphries from the environmental charity Tidy Northern Ireland said a national campaign was required to “re-establish civic pride” among members of the public who left litter behind them.
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