Scotland's coastal litter problem unveiled in new photos

A map exposing hidden litter hot spots around Scotland’s coastline has been unveiled in the fight against marine pollution.

They show clusters of plastic containers, fish crates, oil drums, nets and tyres, with the worst litter spots highlighted in the map in red.

This comes amid warnings that the “huge volumes of material” has decreased the area of ‘wild’ ocean that we have left on the planet.

The map and photographs have been published online by the SCRAPbook (Scottish Coastal Rubbish Aerial Photography) project, a collaboration of three charities – the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol and the Moray Firth Partnership – that aims to help volunteers target their beach clean-ups.

Launched in April, Sky Watch pilots have flown over sections of Scotland’s coast for the last few months taking pictures when they see litter.

Archie Liggat, Sky Watch chairman, said: “In the worst areas it is absolutely at industrial levels, with plastic blasted up the hills from the coast where it’s been blown.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of large plastic barrels and crates all over the place.”

Richard Harrington from MCS said: “It’s largely hidden from view, but there are huge volumes of material in some of the most remote coves and on inaccessible beaches that will be a real challenge to move.”


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Catherine Gemmell, MCS Scotland Conservation Officer, coordinates the mobilisation of thousands of volunteers around the Scottish coastline to clean up beaches and record the litter they find as part of the charity’s Beachwatch programme.

But, says Catherine, up until now, many kilometres of Scotland’s coastline have never been cleaned:

“With nearly 10,000 kilometres making up Scotland’s mainland coast we know there are many stretches of beach that have had no recorded clean up.

“SCRAPbook will help address that, and provide us with new information that will be crucial to highlight to government and industry what steps we need to be taken next in the fight against marine litter.”

MCS is calling for volunteers to take part in its Great British Beach Clean on September 14-17.

The map is available at