Bathing water at Nairn’s central and east beaches has once again been officially classified as “poor” by EU standards.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) say the disappointing rating is a knock-on impact from a bad year in 2013, the results of which still effect the current rating.
This, they say, is due to an EU directive which came into force in 2015.
Calum McPhail, of Sepa’s Environmental Quality Unit, said: “It is important to remember that a ‘poor’ classification does not necessarily mean that water quality is continually poor. “These are still fantastic beaches to visit, and we are working with the Scottish Government and our key partner organisations to help all bathing waters to avoid ‘poor’ classifications.
“A tailored improvement plan is ongoing at Nairn, and a stakeholder partnership group has been formed. This plan enables Sepa and its key partners to coordinate activities and identify additional actions to address factors which may contribute to causes of poor water quality. This includes factors such as the maintenance of town drainage systems, ensuring farms comply with the regulations, and reducing the risk of pollution from animal waste.”
Mr McPhail said that the agency is “committed” to building on this progress and hopes to avoid “poor” classifications by 2020.
He added that Sepa makes daily water quality predictions and displays these forecast on electronic information signs which can be found at both beaches, on their website and through a smartphone app.
Sepa’s samples and tests water from Scotland’s designated bathing waters from June 1 to September 15, and reports them to the European Commission on an annual basis.
The European Commission then determines the classification grading – poor, sufficient, good or excellent.
Nairn central and east beaches were the only bathing waters classes in the “poor” category across the Highlands.
Achmelvich, Balmedie, Dornoch, Dunnet, Fraserburgh, Ganavan, Loch Morlich, Machrihanish and Rosehearty were among the bathing waters classed as “excellent”.
Thurso, Rosemarkie, Stonehaven, Peterhead, Lossiemouth (east), Inverboyndie, Findhorn, Dores, Cullen Bay, Collieston and Aberdeen were classed as “good.”