Watchdog warns popular beach may be 'unsuitable' for wild swimming

Sepa said the water at Wardie Bay in Edinburgh may be unsuitable for wild swimming.

Wardie Bay in Edinburgh ‘unsuitable’ for wild swimming warns environmental watchdog STV News
Wardie Bay: Area soared in popularity among wild swimmers during lockdown.

A tiny Edinburgh beach widely used by the capital’s wild swimmers may be “unsuitable” as bathing water, according to environmental regulators.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) will take samples from Wardie Bay over the next few months after a bid to have the area officially recognised as a safe location for open water swimming was thrown out amid concerns over “beach management”.

It comes as hundreds prepare to return to the water off the tiny strip of sand near the capital’s Granton ahead of the summer season.

A recommendation to reject the proposal by the Wardie Bay Beachwatch group was made to minister for environment and land reform Mairi McAllan.

Beaches at Lower Largo, in Fife, and Barassie, in Ayrshire, both received classifications from Sepa after meeting criteria laid out by the organisation.

It means Scotland now has more officially recognised bathing water than ever before, with the total now standing at 87.

Wardie Bay met two of the three grades covering user numbers and community support, but failed on “willingness to meet beach management duties” surrounding cleanliness and ease of access.

A fourth application – from Almondell in West Lothian – was also rejected by Sepa bosses.

Sepa interim head of water and planning, Nathan Critchlow-Watton, said: “Due to the high level of community use, and the ongoing work by City of Edinburgh Council, Sepa’s specialist teams will take samples throughout the bathing water season, providing water quality information for the local community and visitors.”

Experts from Sepa are now to study specimens from the area over a three month period between June and September.

Environment minister Mairi McAllan added: “The new bathing waters status for Barassie Beach and Lower Largo is great news for the local communities, and will support the large number of residents and tourists who enjoy taking a dip at these seaside locations.

“By investing in protecting and improving bathing waters across Scotland we have made sure many more people can continue to enjoy them with 99% of bathing waters passing bathing water quality standards in 2021.”