Bathers have been warned not to enter the water at a Fife beach after waste from a local harbour was dumped on the sand.
Silt, riddled with litter, was dredged from St Andrews Harbour on Saturday and left on the nearby East Sands, prompting an outpouring of anger from local residents.
Visitors say that despite assurances that the waste would be screened before being dumped, this has not happened, with the tide now likely to carry any rubbish out to sea.
Sarah Heald, a regular beach-goer, described the scene as “heartbreaking,” adding: “It should have been dumped on the land and the teams could have gone through it with a fine toothcomb.
“St Andrews is famous for its fish and yet we seem prepared to put our litter into the sea.”
The Courier has been contacted by several members of the public saying that visitors to the East Sands turned away from the sea on Sunday after the silt transformed the colour of the water.
Deposits from the Kinness Burn were removed by digger and dumper truck, with the waste material said to be have been strewn with discarded items, including bricks, tubes, litter, and even an oil drum.
It is claimed that locals were originally told that silt and mud from the dredging process would be deposited by the pier, however, it was removed on Saturday morning and taken approximately a mile down the beach before being dumped “like ant hills”, according to a witness.
The Courier has attempted to contact the chair of the St Andrews Harbour Trust, which arranged the dredging, but has received no reply.
Dredging licences are awarded by Marine Scotland, a Scottish Government agency.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), meanwhile, said that further deposits had been prohibited while its officers inspect the beach.
A spokesperson said: “Given the location of the deposits, Marine Scotland is currently engaging with the Harbour Trust to arrange for the material to be removed and ensure that no further deposits are made on the beach.
“SEPA officers are currently undertaking an inspection of the beach as a designated EU bathing water and SEPA’s electronic sign at East Sands has been updated to advise against swimming or paddling in the water until all material has been safely removed.
“SEPA has also been in discussion with Fife Coast and Countryside Trust and Marine Scotland to advise that all material is properly disposed of to a licenced facility able to accept the waste.”