FOR every footstep taken on a Dorset beach, there are two pieces of litter.

The tide of litter appears to be increasing, posing not only a health hazard and putting off visitors, but also posing a danger to marine wildlife.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 marine animals die every year from entanglement or ingestion of plastics, discarded on beaches or at sea.

Now, with the help of volunteers, the National Trust aims to stem the tide of unsightly pollution on the south-west’s beaches with a mass clean-up.

From April 2 - 10, staff and hundreds of volunteers are giving a spring clean to 27 beaches including Brownsea Island and Studland.

The trust looks after 716 miles of coastline in the south-west and each beach clean costs an estimated £400.

This is the fourth annual NT beach clean, which began in 2008 when items including a sofa, Japanese crisps and medical drip feed bags were discovered on beaches.

The majority of the litter collected was marine waste but more than 20 per cent came from beach users.

Previous beach cleans found items from the grounded Napoli at Branscome Beach, Devon washed up along the Purbeck coast and as far as Bournemouth.

Phil Dyke, NT coast and marine adviser based in the south-west, said: “This is the first major beach clean of the season and certainly one of the largest.

“It’s essential we wait until this time as generally the worst of the winter storms are over and to ensure our beaches are looking their best in time for our Easter visitors.”

Rangers are expecting that various types of plastics will provide the greatest volume of litter.