• 04 December 2023

Case Summary

What was the issue?

Scottish Ministers designate bathing water sites in Scotland, with the application process administered by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Designation requirements are set out in the Bathing Waters (Scotland) Regulations 2008, and include consideration of whether “a large number of people” are expected to bathe at a location. A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) submitted a representation to Environmental Standards Scotland (ESS), asserting that the Scottish Government (SG)’s interpretation of a large number of bathers (150 beach users) is, compared to other United Kingdom (UK) nations, unnecessarily high. The NGO further contends that other requirements of the application process are overly onerous or unwarranted.

What did ESS do?

ESS accepted the case for pre-investigation, which involved researching the background to the case and comparing Scotland’s policies and performance to the rest of the UK. ESS also engaged with SG to gather information and to agree on informal resolution of selected matters.

What was ESS’ conclusion?

ESS concluded that SG’s interpretation of a large number of bathers has not affected Scotland’s comparative performance in designating new bathing water sites. However, ESS requested that SG revise the application and internal designation procedures to reflect its policy that 150 users is not a rigid requirement. ESS also requested that SG change the application to allow more forms of evidence of user counts and to allow user counts from organised events. SG has agreed in principle to address these issues. ESS will monitor SG’s implementation of the changes required.

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