The Scottish Environment Agency (SEPA) has delivered its assessments and unveiled its ratings for 2023.
The environment watchdog said bathing water quality continued to improve overall, but Kinghorn and Lower Largo both face more monitoring.
Kinghorn’s Harbour Beach was rated poor – a drop from previous ’sufficient’ classifications in 2019 and 2021. SEPA is carrying out investigations and further monitoring is planned.
Kinghorn Harbour Beach (Pic: M.C. Gilbert)
The quality of the bathing water at Lower Largo was also given a ‘poor’ rating. A Scottish Water project locally has been assessing potential sources of pollution into local burns, including testing for misconnections in nearby properties.
SEPA will continue to monitor and report water quality and determine how best to drive water quality improvements over the next few years.
Elsewhere, the report gave ‘excellent;’ ratings to Aberdour Silver Sands; Billow Ness at Anstruther; Roome Bay, Crail; Ruby Bay, |elie and Elie (Harbour) and Earlsferry; Pettycur Bay, Kinghorn; Seafield, Kirkcaldy; Kingsbarns; and the East and West Sands at St Andrews.
Aberdour’s Black Sands, and Burntisland were rated ‘good’ while Leven was deemed sufficient.
Aberdour Silver Sands
Ruth Stidson, SEPA’s principal scientist for bathing waters, welcomed the overall improvements recorded in the latest report.
She said: “Seeing the long-term bathing water quality improvements reflected in this year’s results demonstrates that the sustained hard work by public bodies, private businesses and communities has made a real improvement across Scotland.
“More of our bathing waters will be rated ‘excellent’ than ever before and, overall, 98% are meeting strict environmental standards. We have the largest number of designated bathing waters on record which is good news for the increasing popularity of wild swimming and the communities, businesses and visitors who enjoy our coastlines.
Ruth added: “This has demonstrated the success of driving improvements in water quality through targeted regulation and partnership working. SEPA will continue to work to protect and improve water quality across Scotland with a range of organisations, including local authorities, public bodies, farmers and local communities and businesses.
“We will use our expertise to provide advice and guidance, recommend actions and – when it is appropriate to do so – take robust enforcement action.”
The analysis was also welcomed by politicians.
Mairi McAllan, Environment Minister said: “Scotland’s bathing waters are not only important to our environment, they provide spaces for recreation and contribute to good health and well-being. That’s why it’s so great to see more bathing waters across the country rated excellent than ever before.
“The number of bathing waters in Scotland has increased since last year and now stands at 87, with 98% achieving the bathing water quality standards.
“By investing in improving bathing waters across Scotland, we have made sure many more people – tourists and locals alike – can continue to enjoy them, which is good for our communities and our local economies.”
Scottish Water is committed to continuing to support the protection and improvement of our rivers, coastal waters and beaches.
Last year, it published its improving urban waters route map announcing plans to invest up to £0.5b more in Scotland’s waste water network.