TELEVISION presenter Kate Humble led dozens of volunteers as they cleared litter from Hengistbury Head beach and made it safe for wildlife.

The Springwatch host is an ambassador for the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project, which is targeting 14 beaches across the country.

Kate, who was visiting Hengistbury Head for the first time, urged volunteers to spread awareness of how litter, especially plastic, can devastate wildlife and marine creatures.

She said: “The marine environment is something that’s very close to my heart. I learnt to dive in the mid-90s and it was that that made me realise that the sea isn’t just a big bucket of water. It’s actually one of the richest wildlife habitats that we have.”

“If you think a little bit about what’s in the sea – dolphins, basking sharks, seahorses – it seems extraordinary to me that people tend to think of the sea as a litter bin rather than a wildlife habitat.”

She said she had witnessed an autopsy on a leatherback turtle, which had starved to death after swallowing pieces of a plastic bag and said she fully supported plans to make shoppers pay for carrier bags.

“I live in Wales where we have to pay 5p for a bag,” she said. “You get out of the automatic habit of just accepting a bag. I carry a recycled bag with me wherever I go and I do think a bag tax will make a huge difference.

“I don’t understand why there is all the political to-ing and fro-ing, it’s utterly unnecessary for people to be handed out plastic bags. It’s just about breaking a habit.”

The beach cleans, which are run in conjunction with Surfers Against Sewage have already resulted in just under 500 kilos of rubbish being removed from Britain’s beaches this year.

Among those taking part at Hengistbury Head were Neil and Angela Denby, of New Milton. Angela said: “We’ve been watching Springwatch and like Kate Humble on that. We saw she was going to be down here and it seemed like a good thing to help out with. It’s good that people get involved with things like this, litter is such a killer in the oceans.”