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Beach campaign success amidst bathing water quality improvements

17 December 2021

Communities step up to protect sand and sea after another year of campaigning

The fourth My Beach Your Beach report has been published today, providing an overview of campaign activity and outcomes over this past summer. Results show increased awareness around key issues that can affect bathing water quality, as well as a willingness among beach users and locals to change habits, in order to help protect their beach and bathing water.

Specifically, the report reveals:

  • 46% of people reported checking bathing water quality information when visiting the beach, up 16% from last summer, following focused awareness raising this summer;
  • 43% reported that they would change habits that cause pipe blockages and sewage overflows affecting the beach following education around these issues; and,
  • 82% say they would pick up litter when visiting the beach, in order to leave it cleaner than they found it - up 13% from last year, following campaign efforts to encourage beach stewardship.

Funded by the Scottish Government and run by Keep Scotland Beautiful, with support from SEPA, My Beach Your Beach has been running since 2018 to support bathing water quality improvements at a number of beaches that face challenges with the issue: Ayr, Troon, Irvine and Saltcoats/Ardrossan on the west coast and Kinghorn, Portobello and Fisherrow Sands on the east. It does this by celebrating the beaches, raising awareness and encouraging behaviour change around key habits, including  bagging and binning dog poo, taking all litter away and not feeding gulls near the beach, as well as never pouring fats, oils and greases down the sink, or flushing things like wet wipes and other sanitary items down the toilet, as these can cause pipe blockages and sewage overflows.

After surveying last summer showed that only 30% of beach users check bathing water quality when visiting the beach, this summer’s campaign aimed to raise awareness specifically around what this is, why it’s important and how to check it. At the same time, the campaign continued to promote beach stewardship, encouraging locals and visitors to to do what they can to protect the sand and sea.

The publication of the report follows an announcement from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) earlier this week that bathing water classifications this year had shown marked improvements at a number of campaign beaches, thanks to a wider suite of measures. Work is also ongoing at Fisherrow Sands, which last year lost its bathing water designation following five consecutive years of poor water quality.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said: "Scotland's bathing water quality is now at its best since 2015, and the My Beach Your Beach campaign has done great work to encourage people to do what was needed to deliver that. People's choices and habits really do make a difference, so it’s important that we all continue doing what we can to help keep the sand and sea clean for everyone to enjoy."

Our CEO, Barry Fisher, said: ‘My Beach Your Beach is a wonderful collaborative campaign which has raised awareness of what people can do in their own communities to care for their beaches and bathing waters.  We are thrilled to see such wonderful results this year, highlighting the impact that the campaign has had both in terms of awareness raising, engagement and concrete outcomes such as improved bathing water quality.  We were pleased to establish an exciting new partnership with Scotrail to target beach visitors this year, and I’d also like to thank all the partners, communities and individuals who have worked with us this summer and in past years to make the campaign a success and whose actions have contributed to delivering real improvements in bathing water quality.”

To read the report visit the campaign page, or click here.

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