The Scottish Government commissioned Collingwood Environmental Planning Limited ( CEP) in association with Economics for the Environment Consultancy (eftec) to undertake a research project in Scotland that would investigate the value of bathing waters and the influence of bathing water quality. The project commenced in May 2017 and completed in March 2018. This document is the Final Research Report for the project.
1.1 Aims and objectives of the research project
The overall aim of this research project was to provide a detailed and quantifiable socio-economic understanding of the value of Scottish bathing waters, and the influence of bathing water quality ( BWQ) to bathers, beach users, and to the national and local economies. In addition, four specific research objectives ( RO) were set by the Scottish Government (see Table 1.1).
Table 1.1: Research objectives and headline research questions addressed
|Research objectives ( ROs)||Research questions ( RQs)|
|RO1: To assess the benefits of bathing waters and the value of bathing water quality at a local and national scale.||RQ1: What are the range of benefits (economic, health, social and cultural) of bathing waters at the local and national levels and how can these be measured?|
|RO2: To assess the impact of the bathing water quality classification signs / symbols.||RQ2: What value do people put on information about bathing water quality (signs and signage), how do they understand that information (particularly information about changes in classification) and how does it influence beach visit decisions?|
|RO3: To understand and assess the benefits (or costs) of an improvement (or deterioration) in bathing water quality classification.||RQ3: How can the benefits (or costs) of an improvement (or deterioration) in bathing water quality classification be assessed, taking account of effects on the national as well as local economies and both short- and long-term effects?|
|RO4: To make recommendations for policy and practice, by providing recommendations on the management and assessment of designated bathing water sites, and the overall value of bathing water quality in Scotland||RQ4: What learning can be derived from the evidence about the management and assessment of designated bathing water sites and the overall value of bathing water quality in Scotland?|
A suite of Research Questions ( RQs) was developed subsequently by the project team, in discussion with the Scottish Government, to direct key aspects of the research, notably the review of existing evidence that was undertaken at the start of the project (see Chapter 2). The ROs and RQs are directly related to each other as shown in Table 1.1 above. However, the RQs elaborate on the ROs to establish a more detailed framework for the research (e.g. a series of sub-research questions was also proposed and adopted, as explained at section 3.2).
1.2 Purpose and contents of this Final Research Report
This document is the Final Research Report for the Scottish Government funded project concerning the value of bathing waters and the influence of bathing water quality. It is intended to provide a comprehensive view of the research project’s main findings as well as information on the methodological approach adopted. More detailed information on methods, data, values, model results etc are contained in a separate Technical Annexes volume. A standalone summary of main findings has also been produced, in line with the requirements for Scottish Government funded social research.
The report is structured as follows:
- This introduction chapter sets out the aims and objectives of the research and explains the purpose of this report and its structure;
- Chapter 2 sets out the context for the research including an outline of the policy context for bathing waters in Scotland and a summary of the results from the evidence review undertaken at the start of the research project;
- Chapter 3 explains the methodology adopted in the research project including the research framework (headline and sub-research questions) and the approach adopted to the main data collection and analysis tasks undertaken, both qualitative and quantitative;
- Chapter 4, the first results chapter, answers the RQ what are the range of benefits of bathing waters at the local and national level, by way of evidence produced through this research project;
- Chapter 5, the second results chapter, answers the RQ how important to people is information about bathing water quality, by way of evidence produced through this research project;
- Chapter 6, the third and final results chapter, answers the RQ what are the benefits (or costs) of an improvement (or deterioration) in bathing water quality classification, by way of the evidence produced through this research project; and
- Drawing on all the evidence produced in the research project, Chapter 7 draws some conclusions from the research including a summary of the main findings overall, key areas of learning and recommendations for the management and assessment of designated bathing water sites in Scotland, an explanation of what can be derived from the available evidence concerning the overall value of bathing water quality in Scotland and, finally, some recommendations for future research.
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