In March, we submitted a formal complaint to Environmental Standards Scotland (ESS) about the prohibitively high threshold for applicants seeking bathing water designation for Scotland’s beaches, lochs and rivers. Bathing water status results in more regular monitoring for pollutants, ensuring corrective action can been taken if necessary to ensure the water is safe for human health. You can read more about the original representation in our blog.
The good news is that we have already secured a partial win. Following an investigation by ESS to assess if the excessively high threshold of 150 bathers per day was lawful, the Scottish Government has confirmed that this threshold has been dropped.
Now for the bad news. A raft of new requirements have been introduced, placing additional burdens on communities who want a safe place to swim. These include the need to gain the consent of landowners and local authorities, hold a ‘local consultation’, and submit aerial photography/drone footage of the site in question. There is no legal basis for any of the new requirements – and there was no consultation by the Scottish Government prior to their introduction. The application process is now so burdensome that it is almost impossible to obtain the protections that come with the official designation of bathing water status.
The ugly truth is that, unless the Government changes course, communities across Scotland will continue to bathe in waters that pose a risk to their health.
We will continue to press on with our complaint, and challenge the regressive measures that the government has unilaterally imposed. This case reaffirms why we need the right to a healthy environment enshrined in law – if you agree, please sign our petition.