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Great Brittish Beach Clean


EGCP Turning the Plastic Tide

The Coast between Fraserburgh and East Haven in Angus is simply stunning. However, it is not imune from the blight of Marine Litter. To help tackle this in December 2017 we started work on EGCP - Turning the Plastic Tide. In August 2018 our Beach Litter Officer Craford Paris started in post. His role is to:-

  • Promote and co-ordinate community Beach Cleans
  • Train volunteer beach clean organisers in the safe and effective delivery of beach cleans
  • To develop a sustainable network of trained volunteers to run beach cleans in the coming years
  • To organise the logistics for beach clean events including equipment and disposal containers
  • Develop a network of beach clean kits that can be used by volunteer groups
  • To attend harbour days, events and community meetings, promoting marine litter issues
  • To run a social media campaign to recruit participants and discourage littering
  • To work with regulators such as SEPA and Scottish Water to educate the public about what can and cannot be put down the sewage system
  • To highlight and support solutions for specific issues such as disposable BBQs and micro plastics
  • To work with KIMO on the issue of fishing litter

By creating a network of trained and well-equipped volunteer Beach Clean Leader this project will continue to have a major impact well beyond the end date of September 2020.

This project will include a large number of volunteers and organisations including The Marine Conservation Society, KIMO, Marine Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council, Port Authorities, Fishing Bodies, Conservation Groups, businesses, Community Councils and schools.

More information and update can be found on the project Facebook page.

With thanks

EGCP would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have sponsored the project especially EMFF, Peterhead Port Authority, Vattenfall, Scottish Fisherman’s Trust and Aberdeen Fish Producers Organisation. Also, Marine Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council, Angus Council and Shell UK for helping EGCP support this project.

We would also like thank the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Marine Scotland, SCRAPbook, Pick Up Peterhead, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage for kindly collaborating and helping to raise awareness of the project.

This project would also not be possible without Aberdeenshire and Angus Council’s support of rubbish removal, and Aberdeenshire Council Landscape Services for their great effort removing nets and other waste from Sandford Bay.

 Lastly all the volunteers who have given their time and efforts to improve our coast.


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SFT logo     shell   Vattenfall logo



EGCP - Turning the Plastic Tide - 1 Year Update

Executive Summary

The following review provides an outline of the activities of ‘EGCP – Turning the Plastic Tide’, a beach litter initiative for the East Grampian Coastal Partnership. The review covers the period from December 2017 when the proposal for the project was initiated, to December 2018. During this time, the initiative has gained momentum through fundraising, the recruitment of the project officer, organising several community beach cleans, attending local events and conferences, engaging with community councils and carrying schools outreach. Much of these activities have been recognised in the media with regular releases in local papers and an interview featured on national radio.

Below is a summary by numbers outlining the achievements of the initiative so far, followed by a review of the project activities.

  • Delivery of 4 beach cleans: Total of 221 volunteers.
  • Attendance at 5 beach cleans by Project Officer: Total of166 volunteers and 4 by EGCP Project Manager.
  • 54 beach clean volunteers signed up to the initiative.
  • Successful delivery of a project launch event at Sandford Bay where 2.5 tonnes of litter was removed by 44 volunteers in 3 hours.
  • 1 Photographic exhibition supporting the project held at the SWT Montrose Basin Wildlife centre.
  • 1 school engaged to date: Presented to 18 pupils (primary 4 – 7s) from Kininmonth Primary and followed up with a clean-up at Ugie Beach – 160 kilograms removed.
  • Approximately 180 contacts made in the field including media/press, council services, external contractors, schools, community councils, partnership/NGOs, fishing industry, oil and gas industry, interest groups (e.g. recreation clubs, local businesses, community beach clean groups etc.), funding bodies and civil service contacts.
  • Collaborative links made with SCRAPbook, Moray Firth Partnership, Marine Conservation Society, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Surfers Against Sewage, Scottish Natural Heritage, Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Fisherman’s Federation, KIMO UK/International, RNLI, and Angus Clean Environments.
  • Social media presence of 307 followers and steadily growing – 171 (Facebook), 104 (Twitter) and 32 (Instagram).
  • Press and Media Coverage: Featured on BBC Radio Scotland “Out of Doors” programme; 3 press releases/ 2 phone interviews including coverage in Scottish Field, Press and Journal, Buchan Observer, Fishing News, The Shire Magazine, Mearns Leader, The Scots Magazine and Scottish Natural Heritage news feed.

1. Project Background and Timeline

1.1     On the 5th of December 2017 EGCP Held a Marine Litter Workshop at the Aberdeen Harbour Vessel Control Tower, supported by Vattenfall. This event was attended by 23 delegates and included a selection of presentations and workshops.

1.2     At the end of the meeting it was agreed that EGCP should initiate a 2-year marine litter project that would, employ a dedicated Project Officer to increase awareness of marine litter and increase the number of community beach cleans in the area. The following outlines the key steps taken to set up the project.

5th January 2018 – Bid to EMFF submitted.

March 2018 – EMFF Funding agreed for 90% of the project costs. The remaining funding agreed from Peterhead Port Authority, Vattenfall, Shell UK, Angus Council, Scottish Fisherman’s Trust and Aberdeen Fish Producers Organisation. This funding covered the 10% match funding element and EGCP’s work in supporting the project.

April 2018 – Recruitment process for a dedicated Project Officer started.

12th May 2018 – EGCP Project Manager organises beach clean as part of the Vattenfall Windfarm Open Day at Balmedie.

June 2018 – Interviews held with Crawford Paris being appointed Project Officer.

The new Project Officer, Crawford Paris, inspects beach litter at Sandford Bay ahead of the project launch event.

30th June 2018 – EGCP Project Manager attends Pick Up Peterhead’s Sandford Bay beach clean to gather support of the marine litter project and assess possibility of Sandford Bay being used as a launch event in September.

6th August 2018 – Project Officer starts work. This was followed by a comprehensive introduction to the coast and its beaches with the EGCP Project Manager.

8th August 2018 – Following an online survey, the litter project was launched on social media under the banner ‘EGCP – Turning the Plastic Tide’ 

September 2018 – Project Manager and Project Officer attend Angus Coastal Festival and aid beach clean events.

In addition, EGCP holds an exhibition at Montrose Basin Visitor Centre entitled ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly of our Coast’. This aimed to increase awareness of the litter project by showing the very best of our stunning coastline whilst highlighting issues and encouraging volunteering. The exhibition ran until late November and was supported by a photography workshop as a launch event.

Photographs by Ian Hay illustrated the issue of beach litter on the East Grampian coast.

2. Beach Cleans

2.122nd September 2018 – Turning the Plastic Tide Project Launch

To launch the project and demonstrate the type of support Turning the Plastic Tide aims to provide over the next two years, one of the East Grampian coast’s worst-affected beaches was selected for the location of the clean-up. Sandford Bay is a well-known litter sink and receives heavy items, including large sections of tangled netting, that have proved difficult to remove manually in the past. Local beach litter awareness group, Pick Up Peterhead, had last cleaned the beach in June 2018 but had struggled to clear the heavier items due to difficulty accessing equipment. This presented a clear opportunity for Turning the Plastic Tide to offer assistance.

Turning the Plastic Tide were able to access the resources of Aberdeenshire Council’s Landscape Services team to aid the beach clean.

Leading up to the event, Peterhead Port Authority kindly advertised the launch and distributed posters around their facility. A press release was also sent out to the local papers, receiving a positive response, and was picked up by Sottish Field, the Buchan Observer, Fishing News, and the Press and Journal. Soon after, BBC Radio Scotland extended an invitation to speak about the project and the launch event on the “Out of Doors” programme, which went out on Saturday 15th September 2018. News of the event was also published through the project’s social media channels.

Many volunteers were from the local Sea Cadets.

On the day of the clean-up, 44 volunteers were in attendance including the local Sea Cadets, a team from the Community Payback Service, staff from Peterhead Port Authority, a volunteer from the University of Aberdeen and members of Peterhead community, as well as several EGCP board members. All volunteers were provided with safety equipment acquired through project funding including gloves, litter pickers, bin bags and bin bag hoops. To assist with the heavy lifting, Landscape Services of Aberdeenshire Council kindly provided a tractor, quad bike and two trailers, accompanied by three council staff from the Landscape team. A large skip was also arranged through the council which, by permission of the owner, was located on the premises of a nearby private property.

Over the course of the afternoon the volunteers, along with the essential assistance of the Landscape team, went on to remove 2.5 tonnes of marine litter from the beach in as little as three hours. Most frequently found were small pieces of plastic, with an estimate of around 1000 pieces per square metre in some areas. Large sections of tangled rope and netting submerged in the sand that once were a permanent feature of the beach, made up the majority of the collected weight. Additionally, numerous counts of plastic bottles, rubber gloves and fabric were also noted and removed.

Turning the Plastic Tide interviewed for the Press and Journal following the event’s success.

The success of the event was subsequently recognised with news articles featuring again in Scottish Field, the Buchan Observer and the Press and Journal, as well as the Mearns Leader, The Shire Magazine and the Peterhead Port Authority newsletter. Furthermore, social media posts on the project’s Facebook and Twitter pages featuring the weight collected along with photographs of the clean-up had a total reached of around 11,000 people.

2.215th November 2018 – Ugie Beach Clean, Kininmonth Primary

The project received interest from a local primary school who were inspired to take action as a result of the widespread news coverage of the beach litter mapping project, SCRAPbook, run by the Moray Firth Partnership. After having delivered a classroom workshop in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the SCRAPbook Technical Coordinator, Turning the Plastic Tide organised a clean-up event at Ugie Beach in Peterhead for the pupils.

The school brought along 17 of the pupils who were involved in the classroom workshop, as well as an additional 10 volunteers including teachers and parents.

Following the lesson about the impacts of marine plastics in the classroom, the group carried out an MCS Beachwatch survey covering a 100m stretch at the mouth of the River Ugie. During the survey the group collected 305 individual items of marine litter, around two thirds of which was plastic and a quarter sourced from the public. The survey was conducted over 45 minutes and in the remaining half hour the pupils went on to collect an impressive haul of 160 kilograms.

Also present at the clean-up was a freelance journalist who interviewed several of the teachers and pupils for an article that will be published in the January 2019 edition of The Scots Magazine. A follow-up press release also featured in both the Buchan Observer and the Press and Journal, with additional coverage from the project’s social media platforms which achieved a total reach of 4,000 people. The story will also be highlighted in the next Peterhead Port Authority newsletter.

The Kininmonth Primary pupils were treated to great weather for their clean-up at Ugie Beach.

2.38th December 2018 – Big Winter Beach Clean

Holding a winter beach clean was not only important from the point of view of raising awareness of the project but also to maintain public consciousness of the plastic problem over the holiday period. Stonehaven beach was chosen in order to target a relatively large community with close proximity and easy access to a local beach. 

For this event, Turning the Plastic Tide partnered with the charity Surfers Against Sewage North East, who have strong ties to the community of Stonehaven through previous beach cleans. Turning the Plastic Tide supported the clean-up through advertising it on Facebook and Twitter, as well as registering the event with Clean Up Scotland, an initiative organised by the charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Turning the Plastic Tide provided equipment on the day and arranged collection of the beach litter. Over the course of the two-hour clean-up, roughly 150 volunteers participated, the majority of which were families with young children from the local community, as well as a team from the local Coastguard and community council members. From that, 50 participating adults signed up to the Turning the Plastic Tide volunteer sign-up sheet, who expressed an interest in being contacted for future beach cleans in the area. 

Many participants spent two hours collecting litter from the beach with their families.

From the amount collected, 12 bin bags of general waste were separated from items that were deemed recyclable, which included plastic bottles and containers, aluminium cans and glass bottles. Much of the general waste consisted of small strands of rope, fishing line and small pieces of plastic from household waste.

3. Community Outreach

3.1 Schools Engagements

To date, Turning the Plastic Tide has conducted one engagement with a local school. This session in particular was run as a pilot in order to test the effectiveness of a specially-tailored workshop.

Prior to the beach clean organised with the school, Kininmonth Primary invited Turning the Plastic Tide to speak to the pupils about the impacts of marine plastics on the East Grampian coast and how to get involved to solve the problem.

The workshop was coordinated and delivered alongside SCRAPbook’s Technical Coordinator and the Scotland Conservation Officer from the Marine Conservation Society, who also aided the design of the session. The aim was to illustrate how marine plastic impacts life at sea, how national and local initiatives in Scotland are working together to address coastal litter and what can be done to help.

Kininmonth Primary pupils showing their reports about the impacts of marine litter on wildlife.

The workshop proved to be engaging to the group of 18 pupils, who ranged from Primary 4 to 7. The opportunity to do a beach clean was subsequently offered to the pupils which the school were more than happy to be involved in.

Based on the lessons learned from this session, Turning the Plastic Tide is putting together a similar session which will be offered to all schools within the project area as part of the 2019 schools engagement programme, with the hope to involve schools in beach cleans after the sessions and encourage stewardship of local beaches.

3.2 Community Councils

There is a total of 21 community councils within the project area that border onto the East Grampian coastline. In late November, an enquiry to speak at the next available community council meeting was sent out to the secretary from each area, of which 8 have responded so far. It is the project’s intent is to ask the community councils to support beach cleans by advertising news of upcoming events and, if possible, disseminate information about the services the project can provide to local groups or individuals who are currently, or would like to be, involved in beach cleaning activities.

Turning the Plastic Tide has already attended the meetings of Cruden Bay and Invercairn Community Councils, both of whom are happy to support the project and advertise future beach cleans in the area.

4. Priority Beaches

4.1 Identification of Priority Beaches

Since the beginning of the project, much work has been done to identify beaches that have significant accumulations of marine litter. This has been done through collaborating with a coastal litter mapping project, SCRAPbook, which is a consortium of three charities that use aerial photography to highlight and map litter hotspots.

Aerial photographs are taken by Skywatch Civil Air Patrol and help highlight which beaches are worst affected.

To date, SCRAPbook have provided aerial photographs covering the area from Fraserburgh to Stonehaven, highlighting 16 locations that are categorised as having significant accumulations. To complement this, a spreadsheet has been created which lists all beaches along the project area. This includes information about access issues, possible partners in the local area, when the beaches were last cleaned and when the next clean is planned. Use of the spreadsheet will help determine where and when beach cleans will take place in 2019 and who will potentially be involved. 

4.2 Accessing Priority Beaches

It is estimated that there are roughly 80 beaches within the project area that could be affected by marine litter. A significant proportion of these are only accessible by sea, particularly in the areas immediately south of Cruden Bay, south of Collieston, and both North and South of Stonehaven.

To assist with accessing these areas, Turning the Plastic Tide has been in contact with the North East of Scotland Kayakers (NESKY), Stonehaven Kayak and Canoe Club, the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation, Stonehaven Sea Safari, HM Coastguard and the RNLI in Stonehaven.

Grim Haven near Muchalls has challenging access and significant accumulations of marine litter.

Weather permitting, scoping work will be carried out in early 2019 to assess which beaches need to be addressed, after which Turning the Plastic Tide will collaborate with the above stakeholders to get help accessing the remote areas in 2019.

5. Networking

5.1 Angus Coastal Festival

From the 7th to the 17th September 2018, the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership and Angus Council ran the first ever Angus Coastal Festival. Turning the Plastic Tide attended several of the events including 4 beach cleans at which a total of 136 volunteers attended and were notified of the project.

The beach clean event at Ferryden featured the official announcement of additional funding given to SCRAPbook by local MSP and Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, on behalf of the Scottish Government. Due to the close collaboration with SCRAPbook, Turning the Plastic Tide featured in a government press release as part of the announcement. 

5.2 North Sea Commission Joint Meeting

On Tuesday 2nd October 2018, Turning the Plastic Tide was invited to talk about the beach litter initiative at the North Sea Commission Joint Meeting for the Marine Resources Group (MRG) and the Energy and Climate Change Group in Peterhead. Presenting alongside SCRAPbook, the talk outlined how national and regional marine litter initiatives can collaborate to target clean-up efforts to the worst-affected coastal areas. 

50 delegates were present at the Joint Meeting for the North Sea Commission.

The presentation was specifically addressed to the MRG which consisted of 20 representatives from around the North Sea member states. Discussions prior to the talk focussed on the group’s approach to their marine litter action plan, and the presentation provided insight at a national and regional level about how marine litter can be tackled. 

5.3 Coastal Partnerships Network Annual Forum

Turning the Plastic Tide was nominated by the Scottish Coastal Forum to represent marine litter clean-up activities in Scotland at this year’s Coastal Partnerships Annual Forum in Cardiff, which took place at the end of November 2018.

The East Grampian Coastal Partnership was one of two Scottish Local Coastal Partnerships in attendance at the meeting and was the only one to feature on the agenda. The two-day forum consisted of 50 representatives from around the UK involved in coastal partnership work. A series of project updates were presented, including the activities of Turning the Plastic Tide. The talk outlined the aims and objectives of the initiative in supporting communities facing beach litter issues, providing education to schools in the region and working with communities and key stakeholders to reduce beach litter in the North East of Scotland.

6. Supporting the Project

Since the inception of the project, EGCP has dedicated over 40 days of Project Manager Time into this initiative including fund raising, recruitment, inductions and supervision. This has included attending 4 beach cleans, visiting 12 beaches and 16 meetings.

Meet the team

Project Officer – Crawford Paris

Originally from landlocked Lesmahagow in South Lanarkshire, Crawford has always been drawn to the coast.

Crawford graduated from the University of Aberdeen with an MSc in Environmental Partnership Management in 2017 after having gained a BSc in Marine and Coastal Resource Management, also from the University of Aberdeen, in the previous year. He since has worked for the University of Edinburgh and the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership, before accepting the role of Coastal Litter Officer with the East Grampian Coastal Partnership.

Crawford’s role is to deliver the objectives of the project including organising beach clean events, engaging with schools and communities to highlight the impacts of marine litter, and to encourage greater participation in community beach cleans throughout the project area.

Project Manager – Ian Hay

Ian is originally from a quaint Yorkshire fishing village… called Hull!

Ian has been the Project Manager for the East Grampian Coastal Partnership since 2005 having previously worked as Aberdeen City Council’s ‘Clean and Green’ Officer, which included delivering anti-litter school talks and organising community litter picks.

With thanks

EGCP would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have sponsored the project especially EMFF, Peterhead Port Authority, Vattenfall, Scottish Fisherman’s Trust and Aberdeen Fish Producers Organisation. Also, Marine Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council, Angus Council and Shell UK for helping EGCP support this project.

We would also like thank the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Marine Scotland, SCRAPbook, Pick Up Peterhead, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage for kindly collaborating and helping to raise awareness of the project.

This project would also not be possible without Aberdeenshire and Angus Council’s support of rubbish removal, and Aberdeenshire Council Landscape Services for their great effort removing nets and other waste from Sandford Bay.

Lastly all the volunteers who have given their time and efforts to improve our coast.

With thanks,

Crawford Paris, Coastal Litter Officer
Ian Hay, Project Manager