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Following this, they are also recommending surveys in the north and east of Scotland to produce nationally comparable data. SEPA shares the concern of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) over the amount of litter found on Scottish beache. The recent MCS Beachwater 2000 report showed that Scotland has 250 items per kilometre of sewage related debris (SRD) on its beaches – over twice the average for the UK. SEPA has long advocated this need for investment and is working closely with all three water authorities in Scotland to work towards achieving full compliance with European bathing water standards.

Beachwater 2000 took place in September 2000 when over 1,000 volunteers surveyed and cleaned 150 beaches. A total of over 185,000 items were search engine optimisation counted, of which 6.5% were from SRD, and over a third were from tourism. The measure of aesthetic quality is how much litter and sewage debris is present on the shores, important since these determine the public perception of the state of the environment – a littered beach is considered to be a contaminated one.

In SEPA’s project, a ‘hit list’ of 45 beaches was studied, comprising both EC designated bathing waters and ‘candidate’ beaches – known trouble spots for litter and beaches classified as either C or D in terms of aesthetics. In the classification scheme, A is “excellent” while C is “unsatisfactory” and D is “seriously polluted”. The results of each beach survey have been sent to SEPA’s local operational teams, and discussions with them are continuing to assess the potential for improvement.

A questionnaire on beach cleansing has been sent to the local councils to gather information on actions being taken in each area. Good progress is being made in Scotland as local authorities tackle the problems of air pollution by way of the local air quality management (LAQM) process. The Air Quality Strategy for the UK sets out the LAQM system based on seven key air pollutants.