A campaign has been launched to ban the sale of cheap polystyrene bodyboards across North Devon.

Abandoned bodyboards laid out at Croyde Bay in 2019. Picture: Matt SmartAbandoned bodyboards laid out at Croyde Bay in 2019. Picture: Matt Smart

Plastic Free Torridge, Plastic Free North Devon and Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project are heading up the call in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic waste being dumped at beaches across the region.

Hundreds of the low-cost bodyboards are discarded on or near beaches every year. The single-use boards are made from polystyrene and covered in nylon and are known to break easily, prompting their disposal.

The fragile nature of the polystyrene means it can pose dangers to the sea and shore when it crumbles.

The groups have launched a referendum on the subject, posting the simple question: Should cheap, brightly printed, cloth covered, polystyrene bodyboards be removed from sale at every retailer across northern Devon?

Broken bodyboards collected from Croyde in 2020. Picture: Ocean Recovery Project.Broken bodyboards collected from Croyde in 2020. Picture: Ocean Recovery Project.

Plastic Free Torridge’s Andrew Cross is calling on people to have their say by December 31.

He said: “These, often single use, cloth covered polystyrene bodyboards are a blight on our beaches.

“We are seeking the voluntary support of retailers across the region to remove these items from sale. If you want to send a message to local retailers about these bodyboards, find ‘Let’s Ban Cheap Polystyrene Bodyboards’ on Facebook and have your vote.”

Plastic Free North Devon’s Claire Moodie added: “Plastic Free North Devon are proud to be partnering in this campaign.

Abandoned bodyboards laid out at Croyde Bay in 2019. Picture: Matt SmartAbandoned bodyboards laid out at Croyde Bay in 2019. Picture: Matt Smart

“There is considerable concern across the region about the negative impact these polystyrene boards have on our local wildlife. The success of our wooden belly board rental scheme last summer confirmed that if we can make alternatives available, people will use them.”

Neil Hembrow, Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project manager, said: “This campaign further spotlights the concern about polystyrene bodyboards.

”Last summer, such a short holiday season, we collected over 300 discarded bodyboards from Croyde beach alone despite ever growing awareness of the plastic pollution crisis we are facing.”

The campaign has been backed by local MPs Selaine Saxby and Geoffrey Cox, and both district councils are set to consider motions on the subject in the coming months.

Abandoned bodyboards laid out at Croyde Bay in 2019. Picture: Matt SmartAbandoned bodyboards laid out at Croyde Bay in 2019. Picture: Matt Smart

In his letter of support, Torridge and West Devon MP Mr Cox said: “The damage this material causes to our ecosystems is unquestionable and the more we can do, nationally and locally, to move away from its sale and use, the better.”

To have your say, head to www.bancheapbodyboards.co.uk, join the group and vote. Voting will be open until midnight on December 31.