Blue Planet cameraman toasts Scotland's role in tackling single-use plastics

Doug Allan said the Scottish Government is ‘ahead of the curve' in taking on the issue.

Scotland is ahead of England in terms of tackling the issue of single-use plastics, one of two big problems facing the planet, according to an award-winning wildlife cameraman.

Doug Allan, originally from Dunfermline, Fife, has travelled the world working on TV series including Blue Planet and Frozen Planet.

The Scottish Government has made a commitment to ban plastic straws by the end of the year, while also introducing a deposit return scheme for some drinks containers.

Sir David Attenborough comments
Mr Allan has worked with Sir David Attenborough on many projects (BBC/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency before another trip to the Arctic to film, the 68-year-old, who now lives in England, said the devolved Government in his homeland is “ahead of the curve”.

He said: “We’ve got two big issues that have been highlights recently.

“David Attenborough in Blue Planet 2 undoubtedly brought plastics to the forefront, which was a huge thing that needed to be done.

“There are now Government initiatives to stop so much waste but also to develop new plastics, which will be totally biodegradable or totally recyclable so that we don’t end up just ditching so much.

“The Scottish Government in particular are ahead of the curve in terms of bringing in bottle deposits all that sort of thing and banning single-use plastics, straws. Scotland are ahead of England in that respect.”

He added: “Now we’ve finally begun to become aware of climate change, which in its way is the biggest issue facing the planet because it’s going to affect all of us and every environment that we know of.

“It may be the UK sitting where it does between 45-55 degrees north that has always had a variable climate we can maybe cope with some of it but I don’t know how we cope with sea level rises, which could be a long-term problem.”

Initially a diver, Mr Allan discovered photography after “a chance meeting with David Attenborough” in 1981 before going on to win five Baftas and four Emmys, among other industry awards.

The cameraman also praised Scotland when comparing its seas to the cleanliness of other areas he has travelled to.

He said: “This whole business of sustainability, the state of the world’s seas and how clean or otherwise they are is a really big issue at the moment.

“I’ve seen climate change at work, seen the effects of plastic pollution and also seen just how good looking after the sea is for the whole general situation.

“Luckily Scotland’s seas are still doing very well generally, although there are shifts and baselines here and there.

“It’s hard to get an overall picture of something as big as the oceans.”

He added: “There’s all kinds of good people doing good things.

“I’m taking advantage of opportunities I get now in all kinds of ways to get something of the message out about the importance of the seas and how we should be connecting to the seas, to the natural environment, how we rely on it.

“I think it’s only when people know that they all begin to want to protect it so that it does get protected.

“We need to let people know what’s happening, in a not-wagging-the-finger type way, but we need to show them how so much depends on the sea.”

Doug Allan
Doug Allan (right) with Old Pulteney distillery manager Malcolm Waring (PA)

Mr Allan has also been revealed as an ambassador for Old Pulteney whisky, based in Wick, and its Rise With The Tide Campaign.

He said: “I like to get my messages out in all sorts of media and I see Old Pulteney promotion as being another route into spreading the word about how important it is to look after our seas.

“In terms of my own filming I’m trying to get involved with films about issues like climate change and trying to raise money for a film about climate change in the arctic because that is an area I am very familiar with.

“I also have another film in development about the conservation of whales from a climate change point of view but the fact the Japanese have started to commercially whale again.

“That message is important, there’s lots of different ways to carry it out there.”

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