Beach Managers meet to discuss the season ahead

Beach Managers from award winning beaches across Scotland met in Stirling on 19 May to discuss the season ahead. Local Authorities, Leisure Trusts, Forestry Commission, Community Councils and Community Groups represent the broad range of management bodies across the country that manage the unique and iconic award winning beaches.

Jim Riach, our Community Projects Coordinator, welcomed delegates and speakers to the forum and started off the day by identifying some of the issues facing beach managers. Amongst the bigger issues identified were water safety, litter and dog fouling, funding, managing motor vehicles on the beach and power boats in the water and the issue of seaweed harvesting.

Jim started off the day by outlining the five key criteria of community, access and facilities, environmental management, safety and innovation and education would be the key factors considered when beaches were assessed throughout the year, and that 8 new judges had been trained for 2017. This was followed by a summary from the beach managers of the beaches in their area, outlining the diversity of superb beaches around the country.

Nicola Turner, Community Projects Officer at Keep Scotland Beautiful, provided a brief update on the Clean Up Scotland campaign and provided a comprehensive outline of “nudge” interventions and the ISM behaviour change model that could useful in developing anti-litter campaigns.

Dr Ruth Stidson, Senior Specialist Scientist (Bathing Waters) with SEPA, provided an update on bathing water quality, highlighting the work that was being done by local stakeholder groups to maintain and improve water quality at key locations. Ruth also indicated that two new waters at Gairloch and Big Sand had been designated.

After lunch Michael Averil, Chairman of Water Safety Scotland, outlined the unique challenges facing all of us in Scotland and the Water Safety Scotland aim of reducing accidental drowning deaths in Scotland by 2026.  Delegates were encouraged to visit the Water Safety Scotland website and pledge their support.

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation Officer at the Marine Conservation Society, outlined the great work being done across the strands of biodiversity, pollution and fisheries. Catherine outlined key campaigns such as Beachwatch, and their jellyfish and other wildlife sighting programmes that visitors to the awarded beaches could get involved with.

A final visit to the issues identified at the beginning of the day and some excellent sharing of information and ideas meant that everyone left enthused and with some key actions to take away.

Many thanks to all the participants and the excellent speakers.

23 May 2017

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