Confusion over cleanliness of Fife beaches

Seafield beach, Kirkcaldy
Seafield beach, Kirkcaldy
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NEW guidelines have led to confusion over the cleanliness of two beaches in the Kingdom.

Last week Seafield and Kinghorn harbour beaches were both recipients of Seaside Awards from the environment charity Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB), earning praise for their levels of water quality.

However the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) rated Seafield’s water quality as “poor” and Kinghorn’s as only “sufficient” as it looks to replace current pollution limits by 2016.

EU directive

New EU directives on bathing water quality will replace the current guidelines which have been in place since 1976.

From 2016 all of Scotland’s beaches will have to display a star rating to give bathers information on the quality of the water.

Under SEPA’s analysis 20 of Scotland’s would fail the new pollution limits, including Seafield and Kinghorn.

KSB defended its decision saying that this year’s awards were handed out following current legal guidelines, adding that bathing water was only one of the 32 criteria it followed when deciding which beaches to give blue flags to.

Higher standard

Robbie Blyth, Beach and Coastal Officer for Fife Council, said that SEPA was “raising the bar” when it came to measuring water quality.

“The current way of measuring the water is historical,” he said.

“A sample will be taken to the lab and tested, but that sample could be taken on a good or bad day.

“What they will be doing in the future is taking an average over four years to get a more accurate reading.”

Mr Blyth said that the biggest threat to water quality is run-off from the land and that we all have a part to play in keeping the water clean. “Litter clogging up drains or not cleaning up after dogs can all have an effect,” he said.

“But we’ve come a long way in the last 30 years.

‘‘The quality of water on our beaches has never been better.”