Edinburgh beaches among ‘dirtiest’ in Scottish annual cleanliness report

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Edinburgh’s beaches are among the dirtiest in Scotland despite record levels of cleanliness elsewhere across the country, according to new environment ratings.

More bathing areas across Scotland have been given “excellent” ratings by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) since higher standards were introduced in 2015.

But water quality in Edinburgh was lower than surrounding areas, with Portobello Central and Portobello West both classed as just “sufficient”. However this was an improvement on last year, when Portobello West was labelled “poor”.

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Fisherrow in East Lothian has been given a “poor” rating for the third year in a row.

Porotbello Beach on Easter Monday. Pic: Greg MacveanPorotbello Beach on Easter Monday. Pic: Greg Macvean
Porotbello Beach on Easter Monday. Pic: Greg Macvean

Sepa environmental quality manager Calum McPhail said that “each bathing water is different, with a unique set of potential water quality challenges”.

He continued: “Improvements in bathing water quality has been seen over the last few years but there are still issues to resolve. Working with partners we’re continuing our focus on bathing waters rated as ‘poor’ with tailored improvement plans, prepared by Sepa, under way.

“Scottish Water are undertaking improvement works which are expected to have a positive impact on the bathing water quality at both Portobello (West) and Fisherrow Sands.”

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Ratings are valid for the bathing season June 1 – September 15, 2019, and were calculated at the end of the previous season.

All other beaches in East Lothian were rated “good” or above, and Dunbar East, Gullane, Seacliff and Thorntonloch all classed as “excellent”.

Gullane Bents was also given a Scottish Beach Award from environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.

The East Lothian beauty spot has been awarded the title, based on criteria including cleanliness, access, facilities and beach safety, every year for the past 27 years.

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Dunbar East, which held the award last year, has been removed from the list.

Some Portobello locals have recently taken to social media to complain about the amount of rubbish on the beaches.

A petition asking Edinburgh Council to provide more bins on the promenade to reduce rubbish left behind on the beach has gained 200 signatures.

Transport and Environment Vice Convener Councillor Karen Doran said the council was working to improve conditions on Portobello beach, and highlighted the fact that the water quality has this year been increased from “poor” to “sufficient”.

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She called on locals and tourists to play their part in keeping the beach clean: “Of course we welcome lots of people coming to enjoy our lovely beaches during warmer weather, but we would urge those spending time picnicking in the sun to use the litter bins provided – or, if they’re already full, take their rubbish away home. This way we can continue to keep our Capital clean and our beaches beautiful.”