SWANAGE has been awarded ‘Plastic Free Communities’ status in its fight against single-use plastics.

The Purbeck seaside town has joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way to tackle throw away plastic at source.

Swanage has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of the work campaigners have done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

Local group Sustainable Swanage was formed in May 2019, with one of its first targets to achieve the plastic free status.

The group is made up of a range of individuals and organisations including Swanage Town Council, Litter Free Coast and Sea, Swanage Chamber of Trade and Commerce and local residents.

Swanage Town Council deputy mayor Avril Harris, who is also a member of the Sustainable Swanage steering group, said: "I'm delighted that Swanage has achieved the Plastic Free Community award.

"It is a significant first step in addressing our concerns about environmental damage and climate change."

Now status has been awarded, campaigners will concentrate on instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, gaining local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

Dean Storey, a local business owner who runs Quay Desserts, by the Stone Quay and a founding member of the steering group said he is "proud to be a Swanage plastic free business."

Meanwhile, Sarah Spurling from Litter Free Coast and Sea said: "We are so pleased that Swanage has achieved this status. However, this is just the start of a long journey and we recognise that the purpose of Plastic Free Swanage is to get people motivated to make a difference in this fantastic community."

Regular beach cleans run by Litter Free Purbeck and Sustainable Swanage are planned.

The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to free the places where we live from single-use plastic.

Using the five point plan the aim is to empower communities to kick start local grassroots action, which can then be built upon.

The marine conservation charity, based in St Agnes in Cornwall, says it wants to unite communities to tackle avoidable plastic from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it.

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities project officer, said: “It’s great to see the work that Swanage has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

“We have over five hundred communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment.

"Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit and system changes we need to see.”