Following on from the Marine Conservancy Society's recommendations for clean local beaches in its annual Good Beach Guide, Scottish charity Keep Scotland Beautiful is declaring 60 Seaside Award winners in Scotland this year.
The Seaside Award programme recognises beaches for between 15 and 30 criteria including litter management, information provision, risk assessment and safety procedures, and water quality. The MCS award is more focussed on water quality for swimming and marine life, looking in particular at handling of local sewage.
This helps explain how St. Andrews West Sands wins a Seaside Award but was one of 17 Scottish beaches to get a failing grade from the MCS Good Beach Guide for water quality. By comparison, Keep Scotland Beautiful dropped four beaches from its awards system. The MCS blamed a wet Summer last year which saw more flood water from sewage overflows and polluted water from farm and urban water run-off pouring into rivers and the sea.
West Sands, a long, windswept beach by the Old Course, made a spectacular backdrop for the running-on-the-beach scene in the film Chariots of Fire. It remains one of only two beaches to have won a Seaside Award since they were first introduced to Scotland 17 years ago. The other beach was Gullane Bents.
West Sands in St. Andrews is also one of seven Scottish beaches to have won the highly coveted Blue Flag award. The Blue Flag is an international award owned by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) for well-managed resort beaches that achieve EC Guideline standard water quality. Four other Fife beaches won the Blue Flag awards: Aberdour Silver Sands, Burntisland, Elie Harbour, Elie Ruby Bay (Woodhaven). Beaches at Montrose and Broughty Ferry were the other two Blue Flag winners.
Other East Lothian beaches that won Seaside Awards include Belhaven Bay in Dunbar, Longniddry Ferny Ness/Gosford Bay, Longniddry No 1, North Berwick Milsey Bay, North Berwick West and Yellowcraig.
"Recognising continually improving standards and sustainable management the beach awards are becoming increasingly difficult to hold on to," said John Summers OBE, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful praising the work of local authorities, coastal partnerships and communities in maintaining beaches.