Surfers urge for action against beach and water pollution
Campaign group visits East Lothian town to explain need for year-round protection for surfers, bathers and wildlife.
Environmental campaigners have arrived in East Lothian to launch a major initiative aimed at cleaning up the Scottish coastline.
The Surfers Against Sewage campaign group are calling on water companies and local councils to do more to protect beaches and say the public has its part to play as well.
The group have also called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to support the campaign. They said the UK Government needs a strategy to tackle the increasing issue of litter.
As part of the campaign group's awareness-raising effort, members took to the surf off Dunbar on Monday to highlight the need to protect the beaches from pollution.
Andy Cummings, one of the campaigners, said: "As surfers we're immersing and ingesting; that's where the fun is. We're wiping out, it's a great laugh.
"Unfortunately, we can come into contact with these bacteria and viruses that get shoved up our noses, in our ears, so we need Scottish Water to treat the sewage all year round to a tertiary level."
East Lothian boasts some of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the country, attracting thousands of visitors and sports enthusiasts every year. This makes the campaign message even more critical.
Hugo Tagholm, another campaigner who visited the East Lothian town, said: "More and more people are actually coming to the beaches with wet-suit technology with the amount of people who are passionate about surfing, riding waves - more are coming to use the water.
"People are exposed to these things throughout the year now so it's a false economy that we're actually just focusing on the summer to keep these areas clean. Actually all year round these areas need protection."
Sam Christopherson runs a local surf school and is keenly involved in keeping the coastline clean. But even he remembers a time when it was a different story.
Mr Christopherson, from Coast to Coast Surf School in the Dunbar area, said: "There were issues where you could go into polluted water in certain wind directions, where you would come out and your face would be really itchy and feel really hot because of the pollution.
"Nowadays, we actually are surfing with dolphins and porpoises and things like that."
Scottish Water said it has invested heavily in its treatment works around East Lothian and the quality of its bathing waters has risen sharply as a result.
Much has been done to improve the quality of the water and cleanliness of the beaches in the last decade.
Campaigners say they want to keep it that way.