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Clean beaches at a stroke

It can only be good news that the quality of water off Scotland's beaches is officially fit for swimming.

Not one beach has failed to meet standards set by the Marine Conservation Society's Good Beach Guide, for the first time since it began publishing 27 years ago. Meanwhile the highest proportion of beaches ever (56.8%) has obtained the society's highest excellent standard.

Strangely, better weather is a factor in this, but so are initiatives to have dog owners clean up after their pets as well as efforts to reduce pollution from sewage discharges and other sources. Visitors and Scottish residents alike appreciate beaches that are clean and water that is unpolluted. The improvement is welcome, too, as a counterpoint to reports last week of litter bespoiling one of the country's finest beauty spots in Loch Lomond.

Some, of course, will continue to view the idea of bathing of Scottish beaches as a form of madness, whatever the water quality.

For much of the year, it takes a certain boldness and cold can render many dips short lived. Those people are free to stay on dry land, of course. But even timorous souls may be cheered to learn they can brave the waves, if they really want to.

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