VOLUNTEERS from the Nautilus Project collected 80kg of rubbish during a clean-up of the fenced-off beach on the eastern end of Gibraltar’s runway recently.
The Ministry of Defence invited the NGO so that it could carry out an environmental analysis and clean-up on that normally off-limits stretch of coastline bordering the airport.
Student volunteers collected 80kg of debris that had washed or blown onto the beach.
They then put it all onto their van and carried it away to the rubbish tip.
“The beach rarely gets used, if at all,” Royal Air Force Air Safety Manager Flight Lieutenant Nurse said.
“The aim of today’s clean-up is to collect as much FOD (Foreign Object Debris) as possible which is always a hazard on any airfield.”
Lingering rubbish can damage planes and make everyday life difficult for airport staff.
Nurse said that ‘it is vitally important’ the MoD look after the beach, which is inaccessible to the public and government cleaning machines.
Marine biologist Lewis Stagnetto of the Nautilus Project organised the trip for children on the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.
Stagnetto said the clean-up had shown just how much debris arrives from the sea when compared to other beaches that are cleaned regularly.
“It is a really important piece of work that we are doing here,” he said.
“One of the charity’s main priorities is to make sure we give our youngsters the skills they need especially if they are going to do any of the STEM subjects in university.
“Here they are learning survey skills and procedures and they will build on that knowledge as they continue working with us.”
He thanked the RAF and MoD for granting access to the beach and stressed it was important to ‘have great working relationships with the whole community’.
The Nautilus Project was a key part of the beach clean-up after the oil spill caused by the break-up of the OS 35 bulk carrier off Catalan Bay last September.