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 to investigate the value of bathing waters and the influence of bathing water quality. The project ran from May 2017 to March 2018.
The overall aim of the research 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. Four specific research objectives were also addressed, as follows:
1. To assess the benefits of bathing waters and the value of bathing water quality at a local and national scale;
2. To assess the impact of the bathing water quality classification signs / symbols;
3. To understand and assess the benefits (or costs) of an improvement (or deterioration) in bathing water quality classification; and
4. 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.
The project brought together a number of perspectives on what the value of beaches and bathing water quality mean to users of beaches in Scotland. A mixed methods approach was adopted which allowed the economic, recreational, social and emotional value of bathing waters to be investigated, providing a holistic understanding grounded in people’s experience.