THREE former RAF pilots are taking to the sky to take a closer look at the litter that is harming the Moray Firth coast line.
The pilot project, which it is hoped will eventually allow for a mass clean-up of areas affected by litter, is a partnership of several charities.
The three men, Peter Macintosh, David Brown and Peter Horth, are part of Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol which provides voluntary air observation on litter and polluted hot spots on sea coasts.
Sky Watch is a national charity that has been running since 2000. It was introduced to the area earlier this year.
The project includes representatives from Sky Watch, the Moray Firth Partnership and from the Marine Conservation Society.
The aerial photography is part of a project that was just launch in April called SCRAPbook (Scottish Coastal Aerial Photography).
Peter and his crew cover the area from the west coast of the Highlands to Stonehaven, flying from Inverness Airport.
Peter, from Duffus, said: “The amount of litter we can see is ridiculous and we don’t know if it is from people dumping, from boats or from litter washing in from the sea.
“There are definitely hot spots where you see more litter than other areas, and it is typically not in touristy places or places where people can’t see from the ground.
“It is not just about the beauty of our beaches. It is also about the fact that this litter is getting into our food cycle.
“The goal of the project is to have the pictures sent to community groups or litter-picking groups so they know exactly where to target.
“Eventually it would be great to get young people educated in the issue on what litter is doing to our coastline. We have almost finished the pilot part of the project and it’s been very interesting so far.”
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am delighted we are supporting this innovative project - SCRAPbook will make it easier to address the problem of litter from Scotland and many other countries gathering on our shoreline.
“Scotland has demonstrated leadership in tackling plastic pollution. We were the first administration in the UK to commit to introducing a deposit return scheme and have announced our intention to legislate against plastic cotton buds, one of the items most commonly found on our beaches.
“We are also establishing an expert panel to advise us on our work to reduce our reliance on single use items, meanwhile our National Litter and Marine Litter Strategies are helping reduce the amount of waste generated which can enter our seas.
“The partners in this innovative project have come together to help people look after their marine environment and I encourage everyone to get involved and support their work.”
The team from SCRAPbook hope that the project will develop into a cleaning operation designed into a cleaning operation in time for 2020, which has been designated as Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Water,
For more information on the project, you can visit scrapbook.org.uk.