Scotland's bathing waters continue to meet strict environmental standards ahead of new season

date25 May 2018

As Scotland sizzles in the early summer sun, and with hundreds of thousands of Scottish families and visitors expected to head to our stunning coastlines for the bathing season (1st June – 15th September), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has revealed that 75 of the country’s 86 designated bathing waters (87%) meet strict environmental standards for water quality.

  • 87% of Scotland’s designated bathing waters meet strict environmental water quality standards.
  • Water quality data available by 10.00 am every day during the season for 31 bathing water locations on www.bathingwaters.mobi, SEPA’s website, via Beachline and live electronic beach signage.
  • Partnership projects underway to improve bathing waters including 11 rated as ‘poor’.
  • Nairn bathing waters achieve the sufficient EU classification for the first time after 2 years of poor rating.

Rating

Number of bathing waters

Percentage

Excellent

25

29

Good

34

39

Sufficient

16

19

Poor

11

13

OVERALL

86

100%

Ranked as the most beautiful country in the world by Rough Guide, Scotland’s natural environment is world-renowned.  Its beaches range from remote, unspoilt Hebridean sands to golden stretches along northern and eastern coves and popular Western shores.

Beach users will have access to real time water quality information from across Scotland’s designated beaches thanks to SEPA scientists who sample and combine with state-of-the-art weather data to provide daily bathing water forecasts throughout the three and a half months. These are available at 31 bathing water locations by 10am every morning through:

Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said:

“Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s stunning environment and we are committed to ensuring all of Scotland’s designated bathing waters meet water quality standards.

“Having achieved the highest rate of compliance since the new Bathing Water Directive began we are already seeing many of our priority projects having a positive impact. Both Nairn sites, which have passed for the first time since 2015, have made good progress through working with partners and communities to coordinate activities and identify actions to address water quality challenges.

“Working with partners, we’re continuing our focus on bathing waters rated as ‘poor’, with tailored improvement plans prepared by SEPA. These projects will result in major improvements to bathing water quality in the future and should see improvements over the coming season.”

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Protecting and improving our bathing waters is crucial for our environment, for local economies which rely on beach tourism and for people who will be able to enjoy our seaside resorts and beaches over the summer months.

“Partnership working between SEPA, Scottish Water, local authorities, the farming sector, and communities is vital to achieving better results and I am pleased to see that this work has helped to drive forward improvements this season.”

A Scottish Water spokeswoman said:

“We are pleased to see the continued improvement in bathing water performance.  Scottish Water has undertaken significant investment in partnership with SEPA in recent years to support bathing water quality.

“We are committed to delivering investment where our assets are found to be compromising quality.  We continue to work with SEPA and a range of agencies, local authorities, beach users and other relevant organisations to improve bathing water quality where required.

“People can help by ensuring that they only flush the right things down toilets – the three Ps: pee, poo and paper – to avoid causing blockages to drains and sewers which can cause pollution on beaches.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

2018 results in full

Highland and Islands 
(8 excellent, 4 good, 4 sufficient, 0 poor)

Achmelvich        

Excellent

Dores   

Good

Dornoch                

Excellent

Dunnet

Excellent

Ettrick   Bay          

Good

Findhorn               

Good

Gairloch Beach 

Excellent

Ganavan               

Excellent

Loch Morlich     

Excellent

Lossiemouth (East)

Sufficient

Machrihanish    

Excellent

Nairn (Central) 

Sufficient

Nairn (East)       

Sufficient

Rosemarkie       

Good

Sand Beach        

Excellent

Thurso 

Sufficient

 

 

Lothian, mid Scotland and Fife
(8 excellent, 5 good, 1 sufficient, 3 poor)

Aberdour (Silversands) 

Excellent

Aberdour Harbour (Black Sands)

Good

Anstruther (Billow   Ness)                

Excellent

Burntisland        

Good

Crail (Roome   Bay)           

Excellent

Elie (Harbour) and Earlsferry

Excellent

Elie (Ruby Bay)

Excellent

Fisherrow   Sands                

Poor

Kinghorn (Harbour Beach)

Poor

Kinghorn (Pettycur)       

Good

Kingsbarns         

Excellent

Kirkcaldy (Seafield)

Good

Leven   

Good

Portobello (Central)       

Sufficient

Portobello   (West)           

Poor

St Andrews (East Sands)

Excellent

St Andrews (West Sands)

Excellent

 

 

North East Scotland
(4 excellent, 8 good, 4 sufficient, 1 poor)

Aberdeen          

Sufficient

Arbroath (West Links)   

Good

Balmedie              

Excellent

Broughty Ferry 

Excellent

Carnoustie         

Good

Collieston             

Good

Cruden Bay        

Poor

Cullen Bay            

Sufficient

Fraserburgh (Philorth)  

Excellent

Fraserburgh (Tiger Hill)  

Sufficient

Inverboyndie    

Sufficient

Lunan Bay          

Good

Monifieth             

Good

Montrose             

Excellent

Peterhead   (Lido)               

Good

Rosehearty        

Good

Stonehaven      

Good

 

 

Solway
 (1 excellent, 2 good, 0 sufficient, 4 poor)

Brighouse Bay

Poor

Carrick

Good

Dhoon Bay

Poor

Mossyard

Good

Rockcliffe

Poor

Sandyhills

Poor

Southerness

Excellent

 

 

South East Scotland
(3 excellent, 9 good, 2 sufficient, 1 poor)

Broad Sands      

Good

Coldingham       

Good

Dunbar   (Belhaven)         

Good

Dunbar (East)   

Good

Yellow Craig       

Sufficient

Eyemouth          

Poor

Gullane

Excellent

Longniddry        

Good

North Berwick (Milsey   Bay)         

Good

North Berwick (West)   

Good

Pease   Bay           

Excellent

Seacliff

Excellent

Seton Sands      

Sufficient

Thorntonloch    

Good

Whitesands       

Good

 

 

West Scotland
(1 excellent, 6 good, 5 sufficient, 2 poor)

Ayr (South   Beach)           

Poor

Culzean

Sufficient

Girvan

Sufficient

Heads of Ayr

Poor

Irvine   

Sufficient

Largs (Pencil Beach)       

Good

Lunderston Bay

Good

Luss   Bay                

Sufficient

Maidens

Good

Millport Bay      

Excellent

Prestwick

Good

Saltcoats/Ardrossan      

Sufficient

Seamill 

Good

Troon (South Beach)

Good

The revised Bathing Water Directive

Under the revised Bathing Water Directive:

  • classifications are calculated at the end of the 2017 season for display on all beaches at the start of the 2018 season;
  • water quality classification applies for the whole season;
  • the overall condition of a location is described through bathing water profiles.

Wet weather problems

  • Diffuse pollution is the largest pollution pressure on the water environment in Scotland, but it can be difficult to identify and control. The risk of diffuse pollution is worse during rainfall because nutrients, soil, chemicals and faecal bacteria can be washed from land into the surrounding water environment. Single discharge points might not seem to be an issue, but several combined across a whole river catchment can significantly affect water quality, including in EU designated bathing waters. Land and run-off management practices play a pivotal role in diffuse pollution mitigation.
  • Another source of pollution at beaches can be combined sewer overflows (CSOs). During heavy rainfall CSOs, which discharge diluted but minimally treated sewage to watercourses and coastal waters, are essential to prevent flooding. However, during extended periods of rain, which are not uncommon in Scotland, the combined effect of CSOs in a catchment can have a negative impact on the water      quality. To minimise the impact of combined sewer overflows on water quality, SEPA imposes conditions requiring sewage litter and debris removal and on the location and frequency of their operation. SEPA continues to work closely with the Scottish Government, Scottish Water and the Water Industry to ensure that planned capital investment programmes aimed at upgrading sewerage infrastructure throughout the country are prioritised to maximise environmental benefits.