The SCRAPbook Project

Launched in April 2018, SCRAPbook (Scottish Coastal Rubbish Aerial Photography) was an exciting project founded by UK Civil Air Patrol (Sky Watch), Moray Firth Partnership and Marine Conservation Society, which used aerial photographs taken from light aircraft to map coastal litter hotspots around the Scottish coastline. Sky Watch volunteer pilots surveyed the coastline, photographing litter on the coast below; use of aerial imagery allowed a more efficient method of surveying the large coastline of Scotland compared to land- or marine-based surveys, at a high enough resolution to locate larger (>10cm) litter items. Another key advantage to this method was the ability to survey remote or inaccessible areas of coastline which would not have been otherwise feasible. These photographs were then sent to volunteers, who classified them based on the intensity and distribution of litter visible in each image. The primary outcome of the project was the SCRAPbook interactive map, which shows the spatial distribution and intensity of macro-scale coastal litter through colour-coded points, with photographs attached to points with the greatest litter accumulation. The map can now be used to inform further, more detailed, on-the-ground surveys into specific litter types.

Further funding from Marine Scotland allowed two Marine Litter Officers to be based in Oban, with the role of tackling the litter problem on the ground in the surrounding area.  The value of their role was in tackling large litter items which would have been difficult for members of the public to remove – this involved physical collection and removal of the litter itself, as well as engagement with local businesses to provide the means of more efficient removal and disposal. Their collaboration with local businesses opened up new solutions such as the use of landing craft to access remote locations, and reduced the issue of the disposal of collected waste through businesses offering to take collected litter for re-purposing or disposal.

The SCRAPbook dataset has for the first time provided a spatially comprehensive overview of the distribution of coastal litter hotspots around Scotland. Going forward, this can be used to better understand the processes behind coastal litter accumulation and distribution, and to inform national marine planning and policy. The 2018 mainland dataset has been uploaded to Marine Scotland’s National Marine Plan interactive (NMPi), where it can contribute to Scotland’s National Marine Plan.

Whilst the SCRAPbook funding has now ended, the need to map the coastline again and provide further data in future years remains.  The funding partners will continue to look for opportunities to extend this project in future years. 

The Coastal Litter Problem

There are major problems with litter on Scottish coasts, but the spatial distribution of coastal litter accumulation is poorly understood. Increasing scientific, media and societal interest in coastal litter pollution, coupled with policy commitments such as the Marine Litter Strategy (2014) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008), highlight the importance of better understanding our coastal litter problem, and the need for a baseline set of data to illustrate the current situation.

A variety of litter ends up on our beaches and coasts, from plastic bottles to oil drums, fishing boxes to takeaway packaging, plastic shopping bags to tyres…

Its distribution is influenced by people, the ocean’s tides and currents, and the shape of the coastline. We all have a responsibility to be a part of the solution, and SCRAPbook is helping raise awareness of the issue by mapping litter hotspots, where the coast is worst affected.

The Scottish Government's Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland, which aims to reduce litter input to the marine and coastal environment, can be read here.

What are we doing?

Planes and Crews

Accessing the images

All the images are available under a Creative Commons license agreement. ( If you would like to reuse the images, we ask that they are appropriately credited and that you abide by the terms of the license. The classification data set based on the images can also be shared by arrangement.
To request images or classification data please contact us at to discuss your requirements. In future, we also aim to make our data available to other data sharing portals.

Creative Commons License