SOUTH Ayrshire's bathing waters remain up to scratch, Scotland's environmental watchdog says.

One of Scotland’s most popular visitor areas, Ayr (South Beach), will maintain its ‘good’ status, achieved in 2021/22, following targeted improvement actions by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to reduce pollution.

The status of the water quality is the result of several years of partnership working between SEPA, Ayrshire livestock farmers and Scottish Water, supported by South Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government.

Ayr Advertiser: Ayr South BeachAyr South Beach (Image: NQ Archives)

SEPA said that these improvements were significant and there is good confidence that a similar classification should be maintained in future years.

Heads of Ayr in Ayr has also achieved an 'excellent' and 'good' classification in the last two seasons, following ‘poor’ classifications in previous years.

It will maintain its ‘good’ again in 2023.

It has seen investment in sewage treatment, surface water drainage and farms complying with requirements.

Ayr Advertiser: Heads of Ayr beachHeads of Ayr beach (Image: Heads of Ayr beach)

Barassie in Ayrshire achieved a ‘sufficient’ classification.

Scotland’s bathing water quality continues to improve with 38 out of 87 (44 per cent) rated as ‘excellent’ for 2023.

This is the highest number ever and highlights sustained improvements in bathing water quality, achieved through partnership projects.

Overall bathing water quality has seen ongoing improvements since 2015, when tighter standards first came into force.

Ruth Stidson, SEPA’s principal scientist for bathing waters, said: “Seeing the long-term bathing water quality improvements reflected in this year’s results demonstrates that the sustained hard work by public bodies, private businesses and communities has made a real improvement across Scotland.

Ayr Advertiser: Barassie BeachBarassie Beach (Image: google)

“More of our bathing waters will be rated ‘excellent’ than ever before and, overall, 98 per cent are meeting strict environmental standards.

"We have the largest number of designated bathing waters on record which is good news for the increasing popularity of wild swimming and the communities, businesses and visitors who enjoy our coastlines.

“This has demonstrated the success of driving improvements in water quality through targeted regulation and partnership working.

"SEPA will continue to work to protect and improve water quality across Scotland with a range of stakeholders, including local authorities, public bodies, farmers and local communities and businesses.

"We will use our expertise to provide advice and guidance, recommend actions and – when it is appropriate to do so - take robust enforcement action.”

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Environment minister Mairi McAllan said: “Scotland's bathing waters are not only important to our environment, they provide spaces for recreation and contribute to good health and well-being.

"That’s why it’s so great to see more bathing waters across the country rated excellent than ever before.

“The number of bathing waters in Scotland has increased since last year and now stands at 87, with 98 per cent achieving the bathing water quality standards.

“By investing in improving bathing waters across Scotland, we have made sure many more people – tourists and locals alike - can continue to enjoy them, which is good for our communities and our local economies." 

Simon Parsons, Scottish Water's director of strategic customer service planning, said: “Scottish Water is committed to continuing to support the protection and improvement of Scotland’s rivers, coastal waters and beaches.    

“Last December, we published our improving urban waters route map announcing plans to invest up to half a billion pounds more in Scotland’s waste water network to deliver further improvements and ensure that Scotland’s rivers, beaches and urban waters are free from sewage related debris."