Wednesday, July 28, 1999 Published at 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Scottish beaches fail quality tests
Scotland's beaches are not up to scratch, Friends of the Earth says
Ministers are being to take urgent action to clean up Scotland's beaches after three failed water quality tests eight weeks into the official bathing season.
Friends of the Earth Scotland say samples taken by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency at three of Scotland's 60 beaches give cause for concern and a further five beaches are on course to fail.
The lobby group is now urging the Scottish Executive to look again at how it can best meet the UK government's pledges on achieving clean water standards.
South beach in Ayr, Ettrick Bay on the Isle of Bute and Eyemouth have recorded two poor weekly samples and have failed to make the annual grade.
East Sands at St Andrews, Pease Bay, Cruden Bay, Stonehaven and Millport on the Isle of Crumbrae have all had one poor sample and a second will see them join the other failed beaches.
Friends of the Earth Scotland says that, given the government's promise of clean beaches by 2005, more needs to be done to bring Scottish waters up to scratch.
The organisation's head of research, Dr Richard Dixon, said: "These are the first of a number of failures we are expecting this summer.
"The government has promised clean beaches by 2005, but given the continuing failure we need to know the details of how they will bring this about.
"Cleaning up the water off our beaches is going to take time and money and the public need to know when the water at each beach will be brought up to scratch.
"It is clear that there are still some important beaches missing from the official list."
Sepa's head of policy, Colin Bayes, said that while the water quality samples were not satisfactory, improvement work is being done by several agencies.
All three Scottish water authorities are undertaking sewage improvement programmes including key projects along the west coast, in Edinburgh and central Fife.
He said: "A lot more needs to be done and more money is required from the agricultural sector, the water authorities and central government."
Earlier this year, the Scottish Office increased the number of official beaches from 23 to 60.
Each undergoes a weekly sampling to check levels of bacteria.
The findings are then measured against Europe's mandatory and guideline standards.
Results last year were the worst for a decade. Out of the 23 official bathing waters, 11 failed minimum water quality standards and only three passed the European guideline standards