Wardie Bay is not designated as bathing water – but SEPA will carry out water quality sampling during 2022 season

  10 May 2022
Wardie Bay in Edinburgh has not been designated as one of Scotland's designated bathing waters following a decision by Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan MSP.
  • Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan, has not designated Wardie Bay as a Scottish bathing water for the 2022 season.
  • Due to high number of users SEPA will take samples during the season to monitor water quality.
  • Locals and visitors are encouraged to play their part in protecting and improving local water quality.

However, Scotland’s environmental regulator will take water samples and publish them online, reflecting the high number of users during the season, which runs from 1 June to 15 September.

Application for designation 

The application for bathing water status was submitted by Wardie Bay Beachwatch.

The submission was considered by the Bathing Water Review Panel and recommendations based on the criteria for designation were passed to the Minister for Environment and Land Reform.

Evidence provided confirmed that Wardie Bay had a large number of bathers, and there was community support for the designation. The third requirement, around beach management, has not yet been met.

Given the level of community use and the commitment from City of Edinburgh Council to continue to work towards accepting beach management responsibilities, SEPA will sample Wardie Bay from May to September 2022 and results will be publicly available on a dedicated section of SEPA’s website.

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

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.

“Due to SEPA's specialist teams will take samples throughout the bathing water season, providing water quality information for the local community and visitors.”

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 away 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 editor

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.