Largo MSP, Jenny Gilruth, has welcomed the recent designation of beach bathing status for Lower Largo. The local MSP has been working with residents since 2019 in their campaign to achieve improved water quality at the local beach in Lower Largo.
Following consideration of an application and supporting materials, the Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Màiri McAllan MSP, has decided to designate Lower Largo with bathing water status for the 2022 season.
Ms Gilruth has been working closely on this campaign with local residents for some years, in the quest to achieve the designation of beach bathing status at Lower Largo.
Starting this summer, Scottish Water and SEPA shall be starting a range of projects and testing in order to assess the water quality and the pollution contributions from local assets and burns. This will allow to assess methods for improving the water quality in the local area.
Commenting, Jenny Gilruth MSP said:
“This is fantastic news for the local community. Lower Largo beach is well loved in the local area – but in recent years it’s also become increasingly important for the Tourism industry. This has become more apparent in recent years with far more people choosing to Holiday at home. It’s only right Lower Largo was designated as a bathing beach and I am delighted my Ministerial colleague, Mairi McAllan MSP, has agreed to do so.
“Of course this decision would not have come about were it not for the tenacious work of local campaigners. I would particularly like to thank Matt Allan for his dedicated to seeing this scheme to fruition. While the Minister’s decision is most welcome, there is still a lot of hard work that needs to be undertaken by the relevant agencies to improve the water quality at Lower Largo.
“Scottish Water and SEPA are set to undertake a range of projects, sampling and testing this year, in order to fast track and calibrate their models, which will allow them to determine the best ways for improving the water quality at Lower Largo.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the local community to ensure that Lower Largo’s beach bathing status is improved for all to enjoy.”
Matt Allan, Vice Chair of the Largo Area Community Council said:
“Achieving Designated Bathing Beach Status for Lower Largo is a major milestone in the community’s endeavour towards achieving a pollution free environment. It is beneficial on many levels. In the last two years, more than 1000 individuals have joined the local group and have enjoyed swimming here at Lower Largo. We hope this trend will continue to grow.
“The Beach Designation should also benefit the local economy and provide another tourism asset for Fife, encouraging people to visit and contributing to the experience of visiting our beautiful county.
“LACC would particularly like to thank our MSP Jenny Gilruth, who has assisted with this project from the outset.
“The Community Council are also very appreciative of the contributions made by Louise Robb and Emily MacDonald of the Largo Communities Together Charity and Robbie Blyth of Fife Coast Countryside Trust who guided the early stages of the application. Thanks also to members of the community who got behind this project with enthusiasm.”
Timeline of Events/Notes for Editors:
• Jenny has been working closely with Matt Allan from the Largo Area Community Council since 2019 to support the local communities campaign to have Lower Largo Beach designated as a bathing beach.
• Lower Largo beach consistently attains a high number of users undertaking bathing activities; with bathing beach status having been an important milestone for the local community to aim for, as it will help to improve the water quality for both the current and future users, while also being a welcome addition for tourism in the local area.
• Jenny has made representations to Fife Council, SEPA, Scottish Water and the Scottish Government to support their application and see what can be done to improve the water quality at Lower Largo.
• SEPA sent an application to the Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan MSP, with the support of Fife Council, who have accepted a range of duties required to support the designation.
• The application was granted by the Minister upon review of the evidence provided within the application and due to Lower Largo meeting select criteria:
- A large number of bathers use the bathing water during the season.
- There was community support for designation.
- There was support from the local authority and willingness to accept beach management duties.
• Historically, Lower Largo’s water quality has been classified as ‘poor’ by SEPA, due to a number of impacting polluting factors from local Scottish Water assets, agricultural sources affecting local burns, and development sites.
• Having liaised with Scottish Water, they have decided to accelerate their study and will aim to calibrate a model on the basis of one-year’s data, rather than their usual four-year procedure.
• This will allow Scottish Water to properly assess any issues caused by their assets and aid them in finding solutions to mitigate the impact of any of highlighted problems.
• Now that Lower Largo has been designated a bathing beach by the Minister for Environment and Land Reform, SEPA can implement new licensing in line with this decision, thus allowing them to initiation enforcement proceedings to ensure that standards are kept in line.
• On the whole, it is important to note that despite being granted beach bathing status, the water itself is still not at high bathing water standard.
• SEPA will take samples throughout the official bathing water season, which runs from 1 June to 15 September, and after analysis the results will be posted online: https://www2.sepa.org.uk/BathingWaters/ViewResults.aspx?id=301920