Determining the 2020 bathing season in light of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic

Closed 29 May 2020

Opened 15 May 2020

Feedback Updated 11 Jun 2020

We Asked

We sought your views on a proposal to postpone the determination of the period of the bathing season for 2020 and of the designation of any bathing waters, in light of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, and to keep the matter under review throughout the summer months in line with the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 framework for decision making.

You Said

The consultation received 551 responses. 36 were from organisations and 515 from individuals.

60 responders agreed to the proposal to postpone the 2020 bathing water season and keep it under review over the summer in line with the Scottish Government COVID-19. 23 of these were organisations including key public bodies such as local authorities and regional NHS Boards, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and other relevant public bodies. 37 responders who agreed were individuals.

Objections to the proposal were received from 491 responders. 13 of these were from organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, sailing and water sports clubs and associations, and two community councils. 478 responders who disagreed were individuals.

We Did

Scottish Ministers have considered the responses to the consultation. In light of the on-going pandemic, particular recognition was given to the responses from local authorities, regional NHS Boards, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and other relevant public bodies.

Scottish Ministers have determined that the bathing water season will be postponed and bathing waters will not be designated during Phase 1 of lockdown easing. This decision will be kept under review throughout the summer of 2020 in line with the Scottish Government’s phased approach to easing lockdown restrictions as set out in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Framework for Decision Making and associated guidance.

It should be understood that postponing the bathing season does not imply that beaches are closed. They remain open for local individuals to enjoy in line with the above-noted Regulations and guidance.

Published Responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

The aim of the Bathing Waters (Scotland) Regulations 2008 is to protect public health, by monitoring water quality at locations popular with large numbers of bathers; providing public information on that water quality; and taking steps to improve water quality where the necessary standards are not met.

The Bathing Waters (Scotland) Regulations 2008 require that Scotland’s most popular beaches (86 in 2019) are designated each year by Scottish Ministers, along with the period of the bathing water season, based on when they “expect a large number of people” to bathe at those locations.

Scottish Ministers consider that the restrictions on movement and physical distancing guidance need to be taken into account this year in determining whether we “expect a large number of people” in our bathing waters during the normal 1 June -15 September bathing water season.

Why We Are Consulting

The Bathing Waters (Scotland) Regulations 2008 require that Scottish Ministers must consult with the public and relevant public bodies about any proposed change in the period of the bathing water season, and take due account of the results.

In light of Scotland’s continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Scottish Ministers are proposing to postpone the determination of the bathing season for 2020 and the designation of any bathing waters. The matter will then be kept under review throughout the summer months in line with the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 framework for decision making.

It should be understood that postponing the determination of the bathing water season does not imply that beaches are closed. They would remain open for individuals to enjoy their daily exercise in line with the current restrictions in the Coronavirus Regulations.

Read the consultation paper.

What Happens Next

Following this consultation Scottish Ministers will take into account the views expressed in making their decision whether to postpone the determination of the bathing season for 2020 and the designation of any bathing waters. A breakdown of responses and how they were addressed will be published.

Interests

  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Health and Social Care