COLDiNGHAM Bay’s Blue Flag status has been hard won, and in order to keep it a new management plan for the bay has finally be agreed after almost three years of negotiation between all the parties concerned.
The bay attracts up to 20,000 visitors a year - for swimming, walking, sunbathing, picnicking, surfing, canoeing, angling, diving, wildlife watching and rock pooling. It is also popular for school educational trips. Facilities that have developed over the years include beach huts, a seasonal lifeguard service, beach cafe, toilets and free parking.
To look after both the environment and the people using Coldingham Bay the 1974 Coldingham Bay management study was reviewed in 2009 and as a result a new set of guidelines were drawn up, based on the stringent Blue Flag standards. These guidelines underwent scrutiny by Scottish Borders Council’s planning, legal, estates and environmental health services, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Borders Police and after changes were made the revised plans were then sent out to the community for their comments.
All comments have now been received and further tweaks made to the bay’s managements plan which was formally approved by Scottish Borders Council’s executive earlier this week.
As a result a beach management committee is to be formed - a local authority representative, hotel manager, beach manager, lifeguard, educational representative, and other stakeholders such as community representatives, special user groups etc.
Coldingham Bay’s shoreline is internationally recognised for a wide diversity of habitats and species, and the area’s biodiversity (including the coral reefs) will be closely monitored in collaboration with St Abbs & Eyemouth Marine reserve. The water and air quality has to be of the highest standard and water quality will be continuously monitored.
A code of conduct for the beach is to be displayed and the laws governing beach use are to be made available. Among the rules about use of the beach is that there is to be “no unauthorised camping, driving or dumping” and that access to the beach for dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled. During the summer months - June to September - dogs can only be taken onto the beach if they are on a lead and their owner cleans up any mess made by the dog. For the rest of the year dogs can be exercised off the lead.
A standard Blue Flag information board also needs to be easily accessible at the beach, giving information about wildllife, beach activities, walking opportunities, safety and water quality.
One of the more controversial aspects of the management plan has been the tightening up of rules relating to the traditional beach huts - guidelines for the replacement of new beach huts, closure of the beach hut waiting list until demand has been met, and development of a uniform planning application for the huts have all been discussed with beach hut owners.