THE beach at North Queensferry is the worst in the UK for pollution from tiny pieces of plastic harming marine life. 

Research has found lentil-sized pellets called ‘nurdles’ are littering shorelines but the most nurdles found on a beach in April was in North Queensferry, where 450,000 fragments, the equivalent of 833 plastic bottles, were collected in less than two hours by volunteers. 

The spot is just 12 miles from the Inoes Polymers plant where nurdles are produced. The company has previously pledged to ensure “zero pellet loss”.

Now, shocked villagers have called for an inquiry to tackle the pollution. 

North Queensferry Community Council chairman Ian Mitchell said: “I find it shocking to hear that there is such a concentration here. 

“We are very grateful to the public who have been partaking in beach clean-ups in recent months but I think there needs to be an inquiry into the source of this and this is something that the community council will pursue.” 

Nurdles measure less than a millimetre across and are used as a raw material in the manufacturing industry to make new plastic products but many of the pellets spill out if factories or cargo into water. 

As nurdles are similar in size and shape to fish eggs, they are often mistaken for food by fish and are deadly to marine life. 

They could also potentially be passed down the food chain onto our dinner plates. 

Douglas Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, attended the North Queensferry search organised by environmental charity Frida. 

He said: “It was an incredible effort from the volunteers to collect 450,000 nurdles from the beach that day and it shows just how big this problem is to find so many at a single location.”

While the community and organisations have been putting in every effort to keep the North Queensferry shoreline free of marine debris, locals said that the industry needed to take more responsibility. 

Manufacturers can sign up to Operation Clean Sweep, an industry initiative to ensure nurdles are handled more carefully, but it is a voluntary programme.

An Ineos spokesman said its ‘Zero Pellet Loss’ strategy had seen investment in equipment, training and awareness for employees as well as mitigation measures to deal with any spills.

He said: “We have pledged our support and signed up to ‘Operation Clean Sweep’, an international programme to reduce pellet loss.

“As a responsible operator, we regularly review our operations to ensure continual improvements are being made.

“Our commitment to the highest standards of health, safety and environment underpins all of the work we do at Grangemouth.”

A Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) spokesperson said: “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment, including joining Scotland’s multi-agency response to problem plastics.

“Pellets have been manufactured and used in Scotland over a considerable length of time and it is likely that some of the pellets in the environment, particularly coloured ones, are historic and due to their nature will not degrade.

“SEPA will continue to look at ways to work with pellet users and waste disposal companies we regulate to further reduce the opportunities for spills to the environment.”