A north-east conservation charity is bolstering its efforts to tackle the rubbish being left on one of Aberdeenshire’s most popular attractions, Bennachie.
In recent months the hillside and forest have been blighted by a minority of visitors who have left waste strewn across the landscape over the past 12 months.
Now, as lockdown prepares to ease, the Bailies of Bennachie group, which works to care for and protect the beauty spot, is launching a timely new anti-litter campaign to raise awareness of the problem.
Bailies trustee Alex Doig told the P&J: “There has been an increase in litter at Bennachie in the last year and with lockdown being lifted soon, it’s anticipated that it will increase even further.
“Just a few weeks ago, I walked around the forest and filled three quarters of an 80-litre bag with all sorts of rubbish – such as tin cans, glass bottles, medical gloves and plastic tubs – and this is quite worrying.
“Any behaviour change relies on people appreciating there is a problem in the first place, so raising awareness is the first and most vital part of changing things for the better.
“Protecting such beauty spots is of utmost importance.”
It’s all about respecting the countryside, protecting it for future generations and allowing people to enjoy it.”
Over the next few weeks, volunteers will be working in collaboration with a number of organisations to build up their project – including Keep Scotland Beautiful, Zero Waste Scotland, the Bennachie Visitor Centre and local schools.
Mr Doig said: “We would like people to get involved, to make suggestions and tell us what they think, so we can really drum up the enthusiasm for it and get as many people looking after the hill as we can.”
The charity plans to create a new Jock O’ Bennachie story to provide a creative and educational resource for children, as well as adults.
In order to achieve greater impact, the Bailies will also take part in Keep Scotland Beautiful’s summer clean-up, which is taking place between May 28 and June 20.
Heather McLaughlin, campaign officer at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “It is reassuring that there are so many community groups across Scotland who are keen to stamp out litter and help keep Scotland beautiful and we are looking forward to working with the Bailies of Bennachie on their local anti-litter campaign.
“We ask everyone who plans to explore Scotland to do so responsibly, leaving no trace of their visit and so respecting, protecting and enjoying our stunning countryside.”
As part of the project, the Bailies have teamed up with Aberdeenshire Council, which is currently carrying out a survey of the main sites at the hillside and reviewing the existing bin areas in the surroundings.
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “We support the Bailies of Bennachie with their anti-littering campaign and encourage the public to be responsible when visiting Bennachie and other beauty spots by following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
“We request that visitors leave no trace of their visit by taking away all litter and dog waste.
“If a bin is full, please take your litter away with you – litter left beside an overflowing bin is not only unsightly, but can be hazardous for wildlife.
“We will continue to work with communities, partner organisations and land managers across Aberdeenshire to welcome visitors to our countryside.”