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Caithness News Bulletins December 2005

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Nature & Environment

Bathing Water Quality Report Out Now
Bathing water quality in Scotland continues to improve with 57 out of 60 designated beaches passing tough European standards.  Dunnet Beach one of the beaches in the monitoring programme continues to show the water is of excellent quality in most samples takes in 2005

The full results are published in a report by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) out on 23 Dec 2005. It reveals that of the 60 sites monitored, 23 were of good quality meeting EC 'mandatory' standards for the season with 33 achieving the stricter 'guideline' standards and being of excellent quality.

Investigations have been completed on Nairn East, Eyemouth and Stonehaven, the three recognised sites which failed to meet the Directive's mandatory quality standards this year. Diffuse pollution, an illegal discharge and sewage pollution were identified as contributory factors.

Overall, compliance is 95%, which is an increase on 2004 (93%, 56 beaches).  It also compares favourably with 2003 (95% and 57 beaches) which saw some of the best compliance rates since monitoring began, although, fewer waters passed guideline standards, with 33 this year, a fall of six on 2003.


Tom Leatherland, SEPA's Quality Planner, said: "Good progress is being made in improving the quality of Scottish bathing waters. SEPA is working to ensure that all recognised bathing waters achieve European Standards. We cannot do this without the help of others. It is very encouraging to see that investment by the Scottish Executive, Scottish Water, SEPA's pollution control activities and working with the farming community are beginning to deliver real environmental improvements to Scotland's bathing Waters."

Other highlights of the 2005 season include:

  • All beaches in South West Scotland have passed for the first time since monitoring began 20 years ago.
  • Scotland's bathing waters are getting cleaner. Figures show that on average bacterial contamination has more than halved in the last six years from 388 counts per 100ml in 2000 to 166 counts per 100 ml in 2005.
  • Investment by the Scottish Executive and partnership working between SEPA and the farming community to reduce run off from agricultural activity has resulted in Ettrick Bay passing beach quality standards for the first time ever.

Full results of all the beaches monitored are available online at www.sepa.org.uk/bathingwaters 

The EC Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC) was created to protect and enhance the quality of bathing waters throughout Europe.
Scotland has 60 identified bathing waters, which SEPA tests annually between 1June and 15 Sept.

Mandatory standard: The water quality set by the EU, which Member States must observe. If achieved, a mandatory pass indicates good water quality.

Guideline Standard: EU water quality standard that is stricter than the mandatory and if achieved, indicates excellent water quality.

During the 2005 bathing waters season, SEPA monitored 46 other coastal, estuarine and inland sites for bacterial quality. These
waters are not identified bathing waters and are not subject to EC compliance. However, SEPA provides monitoring for these sites, for future planning and other operational uses.

Of the 46 sampling sites, in 2005:
17 ( 37%) were classed as being excellent quality:
20 (43%)classified as being good quality and
9 (20%) classified as being of poor quality.

Another SEPA Story

Diageo Distilling Ltd Fined 10,000
Drinks giant Diageo Distilling Limited has been fined 10,000 for polluting a tributary of a popular salmon fishing river in Ross-shire.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) was alerted to the incident on 22 February 2005 at the drinks company's Glen Ord Distillery at Muir Of Ord after a member of the public complained of seeing an oily sheen in the Logie Burn. A distillery manager also contacted SEPA to report a leakage of heating oil from a storage tank.

Investigations by SEPA officers discovered heavy fuel oil had escaped through a hole in a bund wall and entered a surface water drain, leading to the Logie Burn.

Investigating officer Vicky Reilly said: "Fuel oil can have a severe polluting effect on a watercourse. Oil can prevent oxygen transfer into water from the air. The toxic effect of oil, and a lack of oxygen in water can kill fish and invertebrates, which are an important source of food for the fish. This case highlights the importance of having a properly constructed and maintained bund for fuel storage systems to ensure any spilled oil is contained in the bund and prevented from discharging to the environment."

Diageo Distilling Limited pled guilty at Dingwall Sheriff Court on Thursday 22 December and was fined 10,000.