A group of environment-loving constructions workers have cleared 12 tonnes of waste from beaches around Peterhead.
The workers had seen the volume of litter and marine waste building up on this stretch of coastline and were keen to get their hands dirty in the fight against ocean pollution.
Over the last two months, they have spent more than 150 man-hours clearing waste and filling skips with items collected on the beaches.
Where to start on such a big issue?
Cleaning up long, heavily polluted beaches can be a daunting task so the firm, Balfour Beatty, contacted Turning the Plastic Tide earlier this summer for advice.
Turning the Plastic Tide is a large beach cleaning project run by the East Grampian Coastal Partnership. It both organises beach cleans and offers help and advice to individuals wanting to litter pick in their local area.
The construction workers’ initial plan was to carry out a series of small group litter picks in the local area, said Crawford Paris, project manager of Turning the Plastic Tide.
But after several “eye-opening” visits to scope out the scale of the problem, it wasn’t long before some series litter removal was underway.
Litter picking at Rattray Head
They began on the beautifully scenic beach at Rattray Head, about 10 miles north of Peterhead.
But after an initial attempt using only litter pickers and black bags, it was deemed near impossible to properly clean this otherwise stunning stretch of coast.
“Rattray Head has long since been a top priority due to the scale of the items found there,” Mr Paris said.
“These include sections of fishing rope and netting submerged in sand, some measuring around 20 feet long and weighing over a tonne each.
“These simply cannot be moved manually by volunteers and require uplift using skilled mechanical support.”
Luckily the construction worker volunteers were up for a challenge.
In the end, they employed the use of a company tractor to haul piles of waste debris including fishing gear, oil drums and tyres off the beach.
In just two days, the team filled one and a half 40-yard skips, provided by Aberdeenshire Council, weighing in at 11 tonnes.
This is the equivalent of 20 grand pianos, or about 4,000 construction bricks.
A further tonne was collected from Craigewan Beach and Sandford Bay using litter pickers and bin bags.
“We are hugely impressed and thankful for the incredible effort from Balfour Beatty staff over these last few months, without which we would not have seen one of Aberdeenshire’s most iconic beaches return to its rightful pristine condition,” said Mr Paris.
Can we clean it? Yes we can!
In addition to the physical effort put in by workers this summer, Balfour Beatty have decided to sponsor the Turning the Plastic Tide project over the next year, donating £10,000 towards the campaign.
Funds will go towards the project’s work to educate school pupils about littering and the impact it can have on our shores and local wildlife.
In recent months our team working on the @ssencommunity's St Fergus Substation have worked alongside @Grampian_Coast to clear over 12 tonnes of beach rubbish as part of the ‘Turning the Plastic Tide’ @TTPTnortheast campaign. More here: https://t.co/sytkBp6871 #TimeForAction pic.twitter.com/aP5ILlUmkA
— Balfour Beatty (@balfourbeatty) August 16, 2021
Dave Hunter, environmental advisor at Balfour Beatty, said, “We are delighted to work alongside East Grampian Coastal Partnership to maintain and preserve this stunning stretch of coastline.
“Through our construction projects on the St Fergus and Peterhead substations we will continue our efforts to leave a lasting, positive legacy in the north-east of Scotland, providing sponsorship and arranging additional beach cleans wherever possible.”