Shetland beaches recommended

Visitors to Fetlar look across Tresta beach and the Loch of Velzie from the top of Lambhoga.

Visitors to Fetlar look across Tresta beach and the Loch of Velzie from the top of Lambhoga.

Five beaches in Shetland have been recommended in a marine charity’s top water quality award scheme.

The Good Beach Guide is re-launched online today by the Marine Conservation Society – with more than 50 beaches across Scotland making it onto the recommended list.

Among them are beaches at the Sands of Breckon and West Sandwick in Yell, St Ninian’s Isle and West Voe Sands in the South Mainland and Tresta Sands in Fetlar.

A drier than average summer last year helped improve the water quality at many beaches, according to the MSC.

The organisation has recommended 54 out of 95 (56.8 per cent) of Scotland’s beaches tested during last summer as having excellent water quality – that’s 12 more than the previous year.

Despite Scotland having more rain than other parts of the UK last summer, there were no failures, meaning all of Scotland’s monitored beaches reached minimum bathing water standards.

MCS Scotland Programme Manager, Calum Duncan, says that could help boost tourism.

“The main challenge now is maintaining these standards, whatever the weather.

“Most people don’t realise what a big impact the weather can have on bathing water quality, but this has really been highlighted in the last few years. According to the Met Office, 2008, 2009 and 2012 were amongst the wettest summers on record since 1910, leading to less Scottish bathing waters meeting minimum and higher water quality standards due to increased pollution running off rural and urban areas and overloaded sewers and into the sea.”

The MCS is also working with environmental organisation SEPA with the aim of linking to daily pollution predictions which will indicate when there may be an increased risk of pollution due to heavy rainfall.

By the end of summer 2015 all designated bathing waters must meet the new minimum ‘sufficient’ standard due to the revised EU Bathing Water Directive. This will be around twice as stringent as the current minimum standard and means that some beaches will need to do more to make the grade.

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