Mixed results for beaches in water quality report

Coldingham Sands

Coldingham Sands

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A report released this week shows that many Scottish beaches have fallen foul of new EU water quality standards.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency say that 80% of Scotland’s bathing waters have been confirmed as achieving the new, much stricter, European water quality standards.

In terms of local beaches, Eyemouth was rated ‘poor’, and Coldingham beach merited a ‘good’ rating.

Pease Bay meanwhile, achieved an ‘excellent’ rating.

David Pirie, esecutive director of science and strategy at SEPA, said in his foreword to the report: “The good news is that 80% of Scottish bathing waters will have at least ‘sufficient’ or better classification in 2016.

“However,” he added, “due to the much stricter standards of the new directive there are 17 bathing waters in Scotland that will have a ‘poor’ classification displayed at the beach, we realise this will be disappointing to these local communities and beach users.”

The agency was at pains to stress the various factors affecting water quality - particularly catchment and drainage areas from higher ground inland, in the aftermath of heavy winter storms and flooding.

SEPA is already putting together improvement plans to help each of the ‘poor’ bathing waters to reach a ‘sufficient’ standard by 2020.

Environmental quality manager Calum McPhail said this week: “It is important to remember that a ‘poor’ classification does not necessarily mean that water quality is continually poor, and in many cases this is due to historic episodes of reduced water quality following heavy rainfall.

“These are still fantastic beaches to visit, and our network of electronic information signs provide advice and details about any current water quality issues at the majority of these bathing waters.”