Better bathing waters: meeting the challenges of the revised Bathing Water Directive in Scotland

A report by the Scottish Executive Environment Group outlining our bathing water strategy for Scotland.

Conclusion and key policies

88. Scotland's bathing waters have improved. Rates of compliance with the Bathing Waters Directive which were once far below the European average have now increased to 95%. Sewage is no longer the major risk to compliance, projects to assess the effectiveness of measures to reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture are showing early signs of success and electronic signage at ten sites warns bathers of predicted poor water quality.

89. However, the revised Directive will increase minimum standards and make compliance much harder to achieve. There are also additional requirements for the active management of bathing waters, dissemination of information and public participation.

90. We will continue to discuss with key stakeholders how best to implement the requirements of the new Directive, and will consult on draft regulations by autumn 2007.

91. In order to meet the water quality standards contained within the new Directive:

  • Scottish Water will be investing in sewerage systems between now and 2014 in order to further reduce the risk of sewage-related pollution to bathing waters.
  • Risks to bathing water compliance shall be included in the River Basin Management Planning process associated with the Water Framework Directive.
  • SEPA will consider risks to compliance when granting authorisations for point sources of pollution under the Controlled Activities Regulations ( CAR).
  • We propose General Binding Rules for agriculture, and may include measures in tier three of the Land Management Contract scheme to reduce diffuse pollution.
  • Where these are insufficient, SEPA may require registration and further measures under CAR.

92. To meet the public participation requirements of the revised Directive, we shall:

  • Continue to encourage local community groups to submit applications for the designation of waters as bathing waters. Applications will be made available for general comment on the internet, and will be screened by a stakeholder group likely to be similar to the current Bathing Waters Review Panel.
  • Explore the possibility of devising a scheme to encourage local community groups to be more active by making modest levels of funding available in exchange for undertaking activities designed to improve the environment surrounding their local bathing water, including reducing levels of litter.
  • Make more use of existing networks such as the Scottish Coastal Forum to engage stakeholders with an interest in bathing waters.

93. To meet requirements concerning the provision of information, we intend to:

  • Continue funding for the existing electronic signs beyond 2007, and seek to extend the signage to other sites where appropriate.
  • Provide for local authorities to receive water quality information from SEPA and require them to disseminate this information as appropriate.
  • Require SEPA to extend the range of information available on its website and other media.



Phone: 0131 244 0205

Environmental Quality Division
Scottish Government
Area 3H (south)
Victoria Quay

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