More of Scotland’s bathing waters rated as ‘excellent’ as the 2019 season begins

date31 May 2019

With hundreds of thousands of Scottish families and visitors expected to head to Scotland’s beaches for the bathing season (1 June – 15 September), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has revealed that more of the country’s 86 designated bathing waters are meeting the ‘excellent’ classification rating (32%).

  • More bathing waters (32%) have been rated as ‘excellent’ than since the tighter standards first came into force in 2015.
  • Fewer bathing waters have also been rated as ‘poor’ – and partnership projects are currently underway to maintain progress and further improve bathing waters including the 10 rated as ‘poor.’
  • Overall 88% of Scotland’s designated bathing waters have met the strict environmental water quality standards for 2019.  
  • Water quality information is available by 10.00 am every day during the season for 31 bathing water locations at sepa.org.uk/bathingwaters, via Beachline and live electronic beach signage.

Rating

Number of bathing waters

Percentage

Excellent

28

32

Good

35

41

Sufficient

13

15  

Poor

10

12

OVERALL

86

100%

 

 

 

 

SEPA has also revealed that 88% of Scotland’s bathing waters have met the strict environmental water quality standards overall and that fewer bathing waters have been rated as ‘poor’ since the tighter standards first came into force in 2015.

In the Highlands and Islands improvements have been seen with Dores moving up to ‘excellent’ and Nairn (Central) and Thurso both moving up to a ‘good’ rating. In North-East Scotland Lunan Bay and Peterhead (Lido) have both improved to ‘excellent’, with Aberdeen moving up to ‘good’. In South-East Scotland Dunbar (East) and Thorntonloch have both improved to ‘excellent’ with Yellow Craig and Seton Sands both improving to ‘good’. This year Portobello (West) in the outskirts of Edinburgh and Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire have both passed for the first time with Portobello (West) achieving the ‘sufficient’ classification and SEPA rating Cruden Bay as ‘good’.

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.

This season beach users will have access to real time water quality forecasts, and live information on any pollution incidents, thanks to SEPA scientists who sample the water and combine with state-of-the-art weather data to provide daily bathing water forecasts throughout the three and a half months of the bathing season. These are available at 31 bathing water locations by 10am every morning through:

  • sepa.org.uk/bathingwaters – SEPA’s website
  • 03000 99 66 99 – SEPA’s Beachline
  • Live electronic signs at 31 designated beach locations

Calum McPhail, SEPA Environmental Quality manager, said:

“Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s stunning environment. It is great news that more bathing waters have met the ‘excellent’ standard than since the new tighter standards first came into force in 2015 and we are also pleased to reveal that fewer bathing waters are rated as ‘poor’.

“Each bathing water is different with a unique set of potential water quality challenges. Working with partners we’re continuing our focus on bathing waters rated as ‘poor’ with tailored improvement plans, prepared by SEPA, well underway. Last summer we reported that, having been a priority project, both Nairn sites had passed for the first time. This season we see that in addition to Nairn (East) continuing to meet last year’s standard, Nairn (Central) has improved even further to a ‘good’ rating – and Portobello (West) and Cruden Bay have both passed for the first time.

“We are committed to providing real time information on bathing water quality to ensure those heading to Scotland’s beaches can have a great day, and through partnership working we hope to see further improvements in bathing water quality in the coming months and years.”

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I am pleased to see so many of our designated bathing waters meeting the strict environmental water quality standards, and that a growing number are achieving the top rating. While a trip to the beach may always be dependent on our unique Scottish summer, beachgoers can have confidence that our bathing waters are being constantly monitored and their quality ensured.    

“Scotland’s shorelines and waters are among the most beautiful in the world and significant progress has been made, in the space of just a few years, to improve standards still further. In cases where a lower rating has been achieved – often due to individual circumstances - SEPA and its partners are working through a comprehensive course of action to drive improvement.”

A Scottish Water spokeswoman said:

“We welcome 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 will continue to work with partner organisations to improve bathing water quality where required. People can help look after our waters by remembering not to put the wrong items down toilets and sinks as these can block drains and sewers and cause pollution on beaches.”

Ends

2019 results in full

 

Highland and Islands

(9 excellent, 5 good, 2 sufficient, 0 poor)

Achmelvich        

Excellent

Dores   

Excellent

Dornoch                

Excellent

Dunnet

Excellent

Ettrick   Bay          

Good

Findhorn               

Good

Gairloch Beach 

Excellent

Ganavan               

Excellent

Loch Morlich     

Excellent

Lossiemouth (East)

Sufficient

Machrihanish    

Excellent

Nairn (Central) 

Good

Nairn (East)       

Sufficient

Rosemarkie       

Good

Sand Beach        

Excellent

Thurso 

Good

 

 

Lothian, mid Scotland and Fife

(7 excellent, 6 good, 2 sufficient, 2 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)           

Sufficient

St Andrews (East Sands)

Good

St Andrews (West Sands)

Excellent

 

 

North East Scotland

(6 excellent, 8 good, 3 sufficient, 0 poor)

Aberdeen          

Good

Arbroath (West Links)   

Good

Balmedie              

Excellent

Broughty Ferry 

Excellent

Carnoustie         

Good

Collieston             

Good

Cruden Bay        

Good (SEPA-rating)

Cullen Bay            

Sufficient

Fraserburgh (Philorth)  

Excellent

Fraserburgh (Tiger Hill)  

Sufficient

Inverboyndie    

Sufficient

Lunan Bay          

Excellent

Monifieth             

Good

Montrose             

Excellent

Peterhead   (Lido)               

Excellent

Rosehearty        

Good

Stonehaven      

Good

 

 

Solway

(0 excellent, 3 good, 0 sufficient, 4 poor)

Brighouse Bay

Poor

Carrick

Good

Dhoon Bay

Poor

Mossyard

Good

Rockcliffe

Poor

Sandyhills

Poor

Southerness

Good

 

 

South East Scotland

(5 excellent, 9 good, 0 sufficient, 1 poor)

Broad Sands      

Good

Coldingham       

Good

Dunbar   (Belhaven)         

Good

Dunbar (East)   

Excellent

Yellow Craig       

Good

Eyemouth          

Poor

Gullane

Excellent

Longniddry        

Good

North Berwick (Milsey   Bay)         

Good

North Berwick (West)   

Good

Pease   Bay           

Excellent

Seacliff

Excellent

Seton Sands      

Good

Thorntonloch    

Excellent

Whitesands       

Good

 

 

West Scotland

(1 excellent, 4 good, 6 sufficient, 3 poor)

Ayr (South   Beach)           

Poor

Culzean

Sufficient

Girvan

Sufficient

Heads of Ayr

Poor

Irvine   

Poor

Largs (Pencil Beach)       

Good

Lunderston Bay

Good

Luss   Bay                

Sufficient

Maidens

Sufficient

Millport Bay      

Excellent

Prestwick

Good

Saltcoats/Ardrossan      

Sufficient

Seamill 

Good

Troon (South Beach)

Sufficient

The Bathing Water Directive

Under the Bathing Water Directive:

  • classifications are calculated at the end of the 2018 season for display on all beaches at the start of the 2019 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.   

ENDS