One in four of Scotland’s beaches are in a “poor” state because of toxic contamination from sewage and animal wastes, according to an analysis by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).
The Scottish Government’s pollution watchdog has given 21 bathing waters all around the coast a rock-bottom rating under tough new European safety standards. This means that bacteria and viruses in the water could pose serious risks to the health of paddlers, swimmers and surfers this summer.
Six of the bathing waters rated as poor are in Ayrshire, four in Dumfries and Galloway, and three around the Moray Firth. Two are in Aberdeenshire, two in East Lothian, and one each in Edinburgh, Angus, Fife and Scottish Borders.
Seven of the beaches badly polluted by overflowing sewers and animal faeces have been given Seaside Awards by the government-backed charity, Keep Scotland Beautiful. One of the reasons for winning the awards is said to be “good water quality”.
But the campaign group, Surfers Against Sewage, pointed out that the award-winning bathing waters were so dirty that they would give bathers a one in seven chance of contracting gastroenteritis. It would be a “mistake” to suggest that they were clean, safe or had good water quality, argued the group’s Andy Cummins.
“The tougher standards have been introduced to offer the public better protection against a wide array of significant health risks,” he said. “Those beaches that fail urgently need to adopt new actions and measures to ensure water quality is safe for the public.”