A schoolboy set to work yesterday on the mammoth task of clearing a mass of plastic debris from the most westerly shoreline of the British mainland.
Innes Ferguson, 16, who lives in the village of Kilchoan, spent much of his childhood walking by the sea, below Ardnamurchan lighthouse.
Now a sponsored clean-up of the area he loves will help him raise cash for a trip to Nepal, where he is to help improve facilities at a remote school.
Innes, whose father David is a trained lighthouse keeper who now manages the visitor centre at Ardnamurchan lighthouse, said: “We lived there for eight years, until about two years ago when we moved a few miles away to Kilchoan, and when we were living there I was always walking down on the shore with our dogs.”
The remote spot is now littered with plastic bottles and debris, washed in by the waves – a tiny part of the estimated eight million tons of such waste being washed into the world’s oceans each year.
Innes, who thinks it will take him a couple of days to complete his task, said: “My generation is really quite emotional about plastic waste. We do a lot about it in school – in geography and in science – all about how plastics don’t break down and affect the wildlife and the sea.
“This is something that affects the whole Ardnamurchan peninsula, because it’s so many miles of coastline.”
The Ardnamurchan High School pupil added: “There have been clean-ups in the most popular areas, but nobody thinks to go to the lighthouse, although this area is seen by lots of people, it’s the main tourist attraction of Kilchoan, with about 16,000 people a year going up the lighthouse.”
Innes, who will be concentrating his clean-up in the worst-hit bay on the shore, said: “There is so much plastic getting washed up on our shores. At Ardnamurchan lighthouse there is an inlet on the shoreline known locally as The Tarry Hole and that is the area I will be clearing.
“After a storm it is a good place to look, to see what has been washed ashore, we have been doing this for years. It got its name after a ship carrying tar lost its cargo, a lot of it ended up in there and the rocks were just black with tar.
However, it is plastic, in all its forms, that is predominantly getting washed up there today and Innes said: “No one wants it. It can’t be reused so is left there. Sea life are suffering.”