Flying Orkney

Funding from Highland Park single malt Scotch whisky, based in Orkney, allowed the SkyWatch pilots to fly and locate litter along the entire Orkney coastline during their 2019 survey - this data is now live on the map below!

The data collected from Orkney shows that while most of Orkney’s coastline is relatively clean, litter can be seen from the air at locations all around the coastline.

The most commonly found item of litter was miscellaneous plastic, with almost 60% of sites where litter was recorded containing plastic items. Other common litter types included pieces of wood, buoys, pipes and cables, metal, net, rope, creels and tyres. The litter recorded is likely to have come from both land and marine sources - either washed ashore or dumped from the coast. In addition, there are litter hotspots where large items such as abandoned cars, scrap metal, old boat parts and pipes pollute certain beach.

The data collected from Orkney illustrates that the issue of coastal litter is not restricted to the Scottish mainland and raises the question of how badly affected other islands off the coast of Scotland may be.


Use the map to explore the SCRAPbook dataset for Orkney. The colour of each point indicates the intensity of litter on a scale of 2-5 (the key is accessed by clicking the button at the top left of the map). Clicking on a point shows the litter intensity and litter type, with images attached to points with litter intensity of 3-5.