BEACHES in the Lothians have been declared among the best in Europe.
Eight stretches of sand – including Portobello (Central), both North Berwick’s beaches, Longniddry and Yellowcraig – have been given the top “excellent” rating by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Today, the accolade was welcomed as a boost for tourism in the area.
Every year, the EEA compiles bathing water data gathered by local authorities at more than 22,000 sites across the 27 European Union member states plus Croatia and Switzerland to check whether they meet minimum EU requirements for bathing water quality.
The analysis resulted in “excellent” ratings for Broad Sands, Dunbar (Belhaven), Longniddry, North Berwick (Milsey Bay), North Berwick (West), Portobello (Central), Thorntonloch and Yellowcraig.
There were “good” ratings for Dunbar (East), Portobello (West), Seton Sands and Whitesands. Insufficient sampling was done to produce a verdict on Gullane.
Manuela Calchini, regional director for VisitScotland, welcomed the findings.
She said: “Our region’s wonderful coastlines and beaches have long been celebrated as some of the country’s best.
“In the Year of Natural Scotland this new report represents a tremendous boon as we promote Edinburgh and the Lothians around the globe as the destination of choice in 2013.”
However, the UK as a whole had the third highest proportion of non-compliant bathing sites at six per cent. Only Belgium (12 per cent) and the Netherlands (seven per cent) were worse.
Cyprus and Luxembourg came top with all listed bathing sites achieving excellent water quality. Eight other countries had an above-average number of beaches rated “excellent” – Malta (97 per cent), Croatia (95 per cent), Greece (93 per cent), Germany (88 per cent), Portugal (87 per cent), Italy (85 per cent), Finland (83 per cent) and Spain (83 per cent).
The EEA said the results were an improvement on last year, continuing the positive trend since bathing water monitoring began under the Bathing Water Directive in 1990.
The latest bathing water ratings come just weeks after the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) annual Good Beach Guide which also gave the Lothians a good score.
It put Portobello (Central) in the highest “recommended” category for excellent water quality, along with Dunbar’s Belhaven beach, Seacliff, Yellowcraig, Broad Sands, Gullane and Longniddry.
A spokesman for MCS said the latest positive ratings for Lothian beaches were “something to be proud of”.
But he added: “In the UK there has been a decline in bathing beaches with excellent quality because of the heavy rainfall and flooding increasing amount of bacteria.”
Don’t put your foot in it, dog owners
Dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets have been told to clean up their act.
The city council has painted no dog fouling warning signs in popular locations including, Straiton Park, Restalrig Road South, Lochend Avenue and Portobello Promenade (pictured).
A spokeswoman said: “The council takes the issue of dog fouling extremely seriously – it is one of the top priorities for our communities – and these new stencils are yet another way to remind people to clean up after their dogs.”
Environmental wardens are targeting dog fouling enforcement in areas including in Portobello, where the beach has been awarded resort status by Keep Scotland Beautiful.”