Detectives searching for missing Dunfermline man Corrie McKeague are to search a landfill site in Cambridgeshire.
The RAF gunner, who was stationed at RAF Honington in Suffolk, went missing after a night out with friends in Bury St Edmunds nearly five months ago.
Suffolk Police believe there is a chance Corrie could have left a small area behind shops in a waste lorry, despite the truck not having revealed any forensic traces of him when it was previously searched early on in the investigation.
The bin lorry theory has remained an active line of inquiry as the most logical possibility since.
CCTV footage showed him entering a loading bay area known as the 'Horseshoe' at around 3.25am on September 24. However, there was no sign of him leaving again.
Drop-offs at the landfill site in Milton, Cambridgeshire were delivered after young Corrie disappeared but it has never been searched.
The search area is huge and undoubtedly this will be a big task for police.
They said the landfill covers 920 square metres and rubbish could be up to eight metres deep.
Given this the search is expected to take six to ten weeks.
Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said; “This is the next logical step in the investigation. Behind the scenes we have been working systematically through the options and we have examined a very broad range of evidence.
“This has involved an extensive examination of CCTV, phone and social media analysis, searches, media appeals, talking to those who had contact with Corrie, investigating his background and social life and tracing those who were out in Bury St Edmunds at the time of the last sighting – 3.25am on Saturday 24 September.
“Preparation work is already underway for the search and this will be progressed as quickly as possible. There are some measures that we need to put in place before the full search work starts as, in addition to the pressing need to find Corrie, we also have to consider local residents, site workers and the officers who will be carrying out the job of going through the waste.
“We know that physically searching the site has the potential to cause an increase in odour and we hope residents will understand that we and the site owners have taken this into consideration when making a decision to go ahead with the search. However we also hope they will understand why we are doing this as part of our continuing investigation to find Corrie.
“We need to find him and discover what happened to him. While the search may not provide the answers as to what happened it is something we need to do as our investigation continues.”