ENVIRONMENT: Scotland’s ‘unlawful’ bathing water policy challenged by Environmental Rights Centre


A green charity has complained to Environmental Standards Scotland about the Scottish Government’s allegedly “unlawful” approach to protecting bathing waters from sewage leaks, claiming it is the weakest in the UK.

The Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) argues that a policy to only award bathing water status to sites that have had 150 daily visitors, makes it “effectively impossible” for many to gain the status and, in turn, protection from sewage leaks.

Rivers, inland lochs and seas awarded bathing water status by the government are monitored regularly by authorities to prevent health risks such as sewage pollution. The government is legally required to designate a bathing water where it expects a “large number” of people to bathe there.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats accused the government of “conspiring to prevent these sites from gaining protection.”

The Scottish Greens said “it cannot be right that we stand by and do nothing based on a technicality”.

Scottish Water data shows that 14,000 sewage leaks into water courses were recorded last year. The Ferret found that 49 Scottish beaches were polluted by sewage in 2022.

The Scottish Government highlighted that the number of bathing waters had increased from 84 in 2015 to 87 in 2022, with those rated as “excellent” by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) reaching record levels.

The government defines the “large number” to be at least 150 people using a beach or bathing water in a single day.


One comment

  1. Feed our watercourses, our river, our rivers, our lochs and our seas.

    It’s the Scottish way.

    I mean, take the example of the Auchencarroch landfill site where the tip recenctly burst with a huge section of hillside collapsing to expose the rotten waste.

    The leachate pollution permeating into our water courses, our soils and into the food chain must be of concern to most. But it isn’t. Out of sight, out of mind, what’s the harm in a wee bit of toxic pollution in our diet.

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