Scotland’s new bathing water season is officially under way – with continuing bad news for Monifieth beach visitors.
Despite new data revealing that 87% of Scotland’s bathing waters have achieved strict European water quality standards, the popular sands at the mouth of the Tay have once again been rated as poor – with Kinghorn harbour the only other Courier country beach to receive the bottom ranking.
On the plus side, those planning to enjoy a dook at locations from Montrose to Aberdour can look forward to excellent standard waters lapping around their ankles.
The final classifications, now issued by the EU, show that out of the 84 officially designated bathing waters in Scotland in 2016, 26 have been rated as excellent – up from 17 last season.
Meanwhile, 36 are classed as good, 11 achieved the sufficient standard, and 11 are rated as poor, down from 17 previous season).
The new classifications will be displayed by SEPA and local authorities across Scotland’s beaches until mid-September.
Tailored improvement plans, prepared by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are ongoing at the bathing waters rated as poor to raise all designated bathing waters across Scotland to the new standards by 2020.
In Angus, that effort has seen Monifieth join the network of bathing waters which have electronic signs this year, providing daily real-time water quality information. This real-time water quality information, now available across a total of 29 locations, is also available via SEPA’s website, smartphone app and Beachline number.
Calum McPhail, of SEPA’s environmental quality unit, said: “Today marks the start of the third bathing water season under the stricter water quality standards of the Bathing Water Directive, and it is good to see that there has been a reduction in the number of bathing waters classified as poor, and a general improvement across the other classifications.
“While this is great progress, we understand that some local communities will be disappointed, as we are, that there are 11 bathing waters which have been rated as having a poor EU classification.
“It is important to remember that a poor classification does not necessarily mean that water quality is continually poor.
“These are still fantastic beaches to visit, and we are working with the Scottish Government and our key partner organisations to help all of Scotland’s bathing waters to avoid poor classifications.
“Our challenge now is to continue to build upon the progress made over the years and bring all of Scotland’s bathing waters up to, at least, the sufficient standard through further investment and infrastructure improvements, along with managing pressures from rural and diffuse pollution and by engaging with communities.
Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “This is great news for Scotland’s seaside resorts and comes as many of us look forward to summer visits to our beautiful beaches.
“This shows the hard work of local authorities, communities, SEPA and the Scottish Government is achieving results.
“This kind of partnership working is important as many local economies depend on beach tourism.
“I would encourage people to stay safe and take a look at the online guidance so they can get the most out of Scotland’s bathing waters.”
A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “Our understanding of the classification is that water quality at Monifieth can be affected by polluted run-off following rainfall.
“At such times, SEPA would advise that bathing or swimming be avoided.
“The council is committed to working with SEPA and land managers to seek to improve the water quality and to manage the risk from polluted run-off.”
Courier country beach ratings:
Excellent: Aberdour (Silversands), Anstruther (Billow Ness), Broughty Ferry, Crail (Roome Bay), Elie (Harbour) and Earlsferry, Elie (Ruby Bay), Kingsbarns, Montrose, St Andrews (East Sands)
Good: Aberdour Harbour (Black Sands), Arbroath (West Links), Burntisland, Carnoustie, Kinghorn (Pettycur), Kirkcaldy (Seafield), Leven, Lunan Bay, St Andrews (West Sands), Stonehaven.
Poor: Kinghorn (Harbour Beach), Monifieth.