Top marks for Buchan beach

Peterhead Lido
Peterhead Lido

Peterhead’s Lido beach has achieved the highest ranking for water quality in the annual report of the Marine Conservation Society.

The 2014 report revealed that 54 out of the 95 beaches tested in Scotland had excellent water quality - 12 more than last year.

As well as the Lido, Collieston, Fraserburgh Philorth and Rosehearty beaches also received top marks, along with Aberdeen and Balmedie beaches.

And while Cruden Bay beach failed to achieve the top grade, it’s water was deemend to have reached the minimum standard rquired for bathing.

The MSC says that one of the UK’s driest summers in recent memory has resulted in more bathing beaches than ever being ‘Recommended’ for their excellent water quality in its annual ‘Good Beach Guide’.

Despite Scotland receiving more rainfall than some other parts of the UK last summer, there were no failures at all, meaning all of Scotland’s monitored beaches reached minimum bathing water standards.

MCS coastal pollution officer, Rachel Wyatt, said she hopes the latest figures will be a boost to UK tourism after several previously wet summers which led to a drop in bathing water quality from pollution running into the sea from rural and urban areas and overloaded sewers.

“It’s great news that we are able to recommend more beaches than ever for excellent water quality and it shows just how good British beaches can be,” she said.

“The main challenge now is maintaining these standards, whatever the weather.

“Most people don’t realise what a big impact the weather can have on bathing water quality, but this has really been highlighted in the last few years.

“2008, 2009 and 2012 were, according to the Met Office, among the wettest summers on record since 1910, and fewer UK bathing waters met minimum and higher water quality standards because of increased pollution running off rural and urban areas and overloaded sewers,” she said.

By the end of the 2015 bathing season, all designated bathing waters must meet the new minimum ‘Sufficient’ standard due to the revised EU Bathing Water Directive.

This will be around twice as stringent as the current minimum standard and means that some beaches will need to do more to make the grade in the futur.

This could include reducing pollution from sewage discharges, agricultural run-off and urban diffuse pollution, fixing mis-connected sewers and putting in place more steps to help dog owners clean up after their pets.

Beaches which don’t meet the ‘Sufficient’ standard at the end of 2015 will have to display signs warning against bathing in the sea from the start of the bathing season in 2016.

Rachel said: “Visitors to the Good Beach Guide will now be able to see really up to date information.

“We’ve supported the development of forecast systems that provide information about when water quality is likely to be temporarily poor.

“But these predictions are no replacement for improvements.

“Water companies and local authorities must continue to improve sewerage infrastructure and reduce diffuse pollution so that eventually we will only need such warnings during and after exceptionally wet weather,” she added.

MCS says bathers and beachgoers should vote with their feet.

“People should bathe only at beaches recommended in the Good Beach Guide to maintain pressure on water companies, environmental regulators and local councils to tackle the sources of bathing water pollution,” added Rachel.