Beaches in guide amid poor results

TWO ANGUS beaches have again made it to this year’s Good Beach Guide despite a general drop in the quality of Scotland’s bathing water.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which publishes the online guide, said the reduction indicates stalled progress in the way the Scottish Government, Scottish Water and local authorities are working toward making the country’s seas safer.

The number of Scottish beaches recommended for excellent water quality in the MCS Good Beach Guide has once again fallen and is now well below the UK average.

MCS has recommended only 42 of the 109 Scottish bathing beaches tested in 2012 as having excellent water quality. In Angus, Montrose beach reached the MCS’s mandatory standard for acceptable bathing water, while Lunan Bay achieved ‘recommended’ status, the top level for water quality.

Less than half of Scotland’s bathing beaches are now recommended in the Good Beach Guide, a trend which the MCS says has been consistent over the last 10 years. Four beaches failed to meet even a minimum European Standard, or equivalent, for bathing water quality.

The change has been blamed on last year’s relentless rain and flooding which led to an increase in the amount of bacteria and viruses ending up in Scotland’s bathing waters. This type of pollution can originate from a variety of sources such as agricultural and urban run-off, storm waters, misconnected plumbing, septic tanks and dog faeces.

Calum Duncan, MCS Scotland programme manager, said the latest results show that the charity’s repeated call for improved monitoring of combined sewer overflows and action to reduce pollution from farms and populated areas is even more urgently needed.

He said: “These latest figures must be a wake up call to the Scottish Government, to Scottish Water and to local authorities who must all play a part in finding a solution to this issue. If we don’t all work together now, the impacts could be a major blow to Scotland’s tourist economy if, after 2015, some beaches could be closed to bathers if they repeatedly fail basic standards.”

MCS says partnerships to solve the problems of poor water quality can work. The charity has worked with partners in Scotland, supporting the case for increased roll-out of world-leading electronic water quality forecasting signs and the number of officially designated bathing beaches.