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SCOTTISH BATHING WATERS - INVESTMENT PAYS OFF

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The quality of bathing waters in Scotland is improving - with the number meeting EC standards up by 18% since 1988 ...
The quality of bathing waters in Scotland is improving - with the number meeting EC standards up by 18% since 1988 - according to a report launched by Scottish environment minister Lord Lindsay today.

The Scottish Office report, Scottish Bathing Waters: Progress Towards Compliance, examines the results from seven years monitoring, describes the investigations of contamination, and improvement measures which have been taken, or are planned, to achieve improvements.

Speaking at West Links beach in Arbroath, which now meets EC standards after investment in better sewerage arrangements, Lord Lindsay said:

'Families coming to the seaside to let their children swim or paddle want the reassurance that the sea is clean and unpolluted by sewage. This report shows that the multi-million pound investment in sewerage improvements is having the desired effect. All bathing waters on the east coast have met EC standards for the last two years and I am confident that the investment programme will produce similar successes on the Ayrshire coast.

'The pace of investment will quicken over the next 10-15 years as the new water authorities work to meet UK and EC quality standards and other needs. The funds needed are substantial - around £5bn. The rewards, however, will be bathing water of unparalleled quality and safety and a sewerage infrastructure ready to meet public hygiene standards well into the next century.

'The new water authorities have the expertise to implement this massive programme and the government expects them to meet the challenge as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. The Private Finance Initiative - involving private sector capital and management efficiences - is expected to play a significant part and ensure that value for money is a top priority.

'The bathing water here in Arbroath show what can be achieved. The waters failed to meet the EC Standard before the new outfall was operational in 1991. Since then it has met the standard every year. The 1995 results will be available next month but early indications are that the east coast bathing waters are set to get a clean bill of health.'

The level of compliance with European standards at the 23 waters identified under the EC Bathing Water Directive has improved from 12 (52%) to 16 (70%) between 1988 and 1994.

- Responsibility for monitoring the quality of bathing waters in Scotland lies with the independent river purification boards. Any measures required to improve the quality of the waters are a matter for the dischargers of industrial effluent or the sewerage authorities (the regional councils at present, with responsibility transferring to the new water authorities from April 1996).

- The condition of bathing beaches is the responsibility of district councils (at present and will be transferred to the new unitary authorities from April 1996).

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