THE miserable Scottish summer has been blamed for robbing two beautiful beaches of their coveted Blue Flag awards.
Weeks of relentless rain washed tonnes of sheep and cow dung, as well as other agricultural pollutants, into the sea.
And that meant Leven Beach, Fife, and Coldingham Bay, in the Scottish Borders, failed water quality tests for bacteria.
As a result they have both been stripped of their Blue Flags – the sign that water is safe for bathers – leaving Scotland with just six top quality beaches.
Carole Noble, head of operations at Keep Scotland Beautiful said: “Recent heavy rain fall has caused this diverse pollution to wash into the water.
“Agricultural waste is polluting the waters.
“It is making it difficult to manage the beach.”
She added: “All other beach standards will remain the same however, it is just the Blue Flag that has been taken away.”
But local businesses fear the loss of the Blue Flags will drive away badly-needed tourists.
Thomas Wallace, owner of Leven Holiday Park, said: “This will certainly affect us badly. This year we have already had a lot of rain which affects our business, now this.
“The beach is what attracts our tourists and our families. Grandparents and children love to sit on the beach, this is a terrible shame.”
“I am sorry to hear about this news. At the start of this season local people got together and cleaned up the beach to try make a difference. The local authorities also continually help to keep the beach at its best to help tourism.”
The chairman of Levenmouth Area Committee, Councillor Tom Adams, said: “The water tests at Leven beach had been carried out at a time of recent heavy downpours which may have caused higher than normal bacterial readings.
“We are awaiting confirmation from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency who monitor water quality at Leven Beach.”
He added: “We hope to receive a Blue Flag for Leven Beach next year.”
Councillor Ron Smith, Executive Member for Planning and Environment at Scottish Borders Council, said: “We will be working with Keep Scotland Beautiful, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Water to identify the water quality breaches.
“It is highly likely that these failures can be attributed to the unusually heavy rainfall we have been experiencing over the past couple of months.
Keep Scotland Beautiful said both beaches had been awarded the Blue Flag for the past three consecutive years.
Rules dictate that if more than two of the 20 planned samples taken fail to meet Intestinal Enterococci standards at any point during the bathing water sampling season of June 1 to September 15, the Blue Flag must be withdrawn.
Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “While we are all bitterly disappointed that the Blue Flag has had to be withdrawn, we are pleased that both beaches will continue to be actively managed and that Seaside Award standards will be maintained – allowing visitors to access up to date information about the water quality.
“We would urge people to keep visiting the beaches, and to check the most recent water quality results on the information boards or online at www.sepa.org.uk.”
Some samples only narrowly missed the standards, meaning both beaches will continue to fly the Scottish Seaside Award flag
Keep Scotland Beautiful will be working closely with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Borders and Fife Council to ensure that the causes of the water quality breaches are identified.
Samples will also be taken throughout the summer to monitor pollution levels in the bathing water.
Scotland now has six beaches with the Blue Flag award, five of them in Fife, Aberdour Silver Sands, Elie Ruby Bay, Burntisland Beach, Elie Harbour, and Kinghorn and Pettycur Bay. Broughty Ferry, Dundee, also has a Blue Flag.