Ayrshire coast boost as Minister announces new designated bathing water at Barassie

  10 May 2022
Barassie beach in Ayrshire is now one of Scotland's designated bathing waters following a decision by Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan MSP. Lower Largo in Fife has also been newly designated as a bathing water in 2022, bringing the total number to 87.
  • Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan, designates Barassie beach as a Scottish bathing water.
  • Designation brings the total number of Bathing Waters in Scotland to 87.
  • Samples will be taken by SEPA to monitor water quality
  • Locals and visitors encouraged to play their part in protecting and improving the quality of the new bathing water. 

New status

Local outdoor spaces are integral to our physical and mental health and managing them well can improve well-being and other social and cultural benefits for local communities and visitors alike.  

Scotland’s official bathing water season runs between 1 June and 15 September. SEPA takes water samples over the full three and half months, and after analysis the results are posted online. Pre-season sampling is carried out during May.

 Monitoring water quality in this way means SEPA can provide information on water quality for bathing and develop a strategy for any water quality improvements needed.

Application for designation

The application for bathing water status was submitted by Friends of Troon beaches with support from South Ayrshire Council, which accepted a range of duties as a result of the designation. Evidence provided with the application confirmed that Barassie met the criteria for bathing water designation:

  • A large number of bathers use the bathing water.
  • There was community support for the designation.
  • There was support from the local authority and willingness to promote the bathing water to potential users.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said:

“The new Bathing Waters status for Barassie Beach and Lower Largo is great news for the local communities, and will support the large number of residents and tourists who enjoy taking a dip at these seaside locations. “By investing in protecting and improving bathing waters across Scotland we have made sure many more people can continue to enjoy them with 99% of bathing waters passing bathing water quality standards in 2021.”

 Nathan Critchlow-Watton, SEPA’s Interim Head of Water and Planning, added: 

 “Scotland's natural environment is world renowned. Our waters are at their best status on record and the best in the UK, including 99% of bathing waters meeting strict environmental standards in 2021. As well as the physical and mental health benefits that being outdoors can provide, bathing waters can support local economies by encouraging visitors.

“With Barassie designated for the 2022 season, Scotland now has more bathing waters than any previous year. This is good news for the communities, businesses and visitors that enjoy our coastlines. SEPA's specialist teams will take samples at all our bathing waters throughout the season, providing water quality information for all those who wish to visit. 

SEPA has worked for over 20 years to drive improvements in water quality - through targeted regulation and working with others to achieve significant investment. We will continue to work to protect and improve water quality across Scotland with a range of stakeholders, including local authorities, farmers and land managers and Scottish Water. We will use our expertise to provide advice and guidance, recommend actions and – when it is appropriate to do so - take robust enforcement action.”

Help improve our beaches and coastlines

Communities and visitors to Scotland’s beaches can also help to protect our water environment, even when they’re not there.

It’s important that people understand the impact what they flush can have on the environment - and their local bathing water. Every year Scottish Water teams deal with around 36,000 blockages, costing customers about £7 million annually, and around 80% of those are caused by people flushing the wrong items down the toilet, or pouring fats, oil and grease down the sink. These blockages in the sewer system can result in spills of pollution into the environment.

Whether you are at home, at work or on holiday, Scottish Water provides advice on how to protect the network, and Scotland’s water environment, at scottishwater.co.uk/naturecalls

Protecting our bathing waters while at the beach is also vital. Waste from animals or litter is not just unsightly, it can have a negative impact on the environment. So, visitors are encouraged to take litter home, clean up after their dogs and avoid feeding the gulls, ensuring a good beach experience for everyone who visits. Find out more at keepscotlandbeautiful.org/mybeachyourbeach


Notes to editors


Bathing water designation process

Any organisation or individual can put forward a bathing water to be considered for designation.

Applicants need to provide good information about the number of beach users, both in and around the water, throughout the bathing season. This is usually in the form of photographic evidence of people in the water or a survey of user numbers. More information, including designation application forms, is available on SEPA’s website at Bathing Waters : Designation (sepa.org.uk)

Once the application and supporting evidence has been received, it will be considered by the Bathing waters review panel which is chaired by SEPA. The 2021 panel members were:

  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Marine Conservation Scotland
  • Keep Scotland Beautiful
  • The Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland

Panel observers (no voting rights)

  • Scottish Government
  • Scottish Water

The panel makes recommendations to the Scottish Government’s Minister for Environment, who decides which beaches are designated before the next bathing water season.

Scotland’s bathing waters

More information on Scotland’s bathing waters is available on SEPA’s website. This includes an interactive map of current bathing waters, the 2021 classifications and is also where sample results will be published as they are analysed.