A record six beaches in Fife have been awarded the prestigious quality award by Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB), with only one other beach outside the "Kingdom" - Coldingham Bay in the Scottish Borders - gaining a Blue Flag for the second year in succession.
Last year five beaches in Fife were amongst the "magnificent seven" beaches throughout Scotland to be awarded the Blue Flag. Leven Beach, Aberdour Silver Sands, Burntisland, Elie Ruby Bay and St Andrews West Sands have all retained their Blue Flag status again this year. And St Andrews East Sands has now joined the list.
Broughty Ferry beach in Dundee is the only beach in Scotland to have lost its Blue Flag status this year because of water quality concerns. But the popular beach is one of 56 Scottish beaches, from Machrihanish in the south west to St Ninian's Isle in Shetland, to have been granted Resort Seaside Award status this year, in recognition of the high standard of their amenity.
Derek Robertson, the chief executive of KSB, welcomed the continuing success of Scotland's beaches. He said: "Over the last 11 years the number of Seaside Awards in Scotland has more than quadrupled. There were just 13 in 2000, so I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work that goes in to achieving and keeping these awards by local authorities and communities, and I would encourage people, particularly in this economic climate, to make use of the fantastic beaches we have around the Scottish coast this summer."
He added: "I am delighted that Fife has achieved six Blue Flags this year - these beaches join Blue Flag beaches from 41 countries across the world. And it is fantastic that Coldingham Bay remains in the elite group."
Councillor Brian Goodall, chairman of Fife Council's communities committee, said: "It's great news that six of Scotland's seven Blue Flag beaches are here in Fife, which is testament to the hard work of the local communities as well as Fife Council employees.
"Fife is committed to being a leading green council, improving sport, leisure and cultural opportunities and improving local conditions for economic development. Our magnificent, award-winning beaches are helping to deliver on these big priorities."
He added: "Since the beach award programmes started in Scotland, Fife Council has led the way in beach management and there has been a gradual increase in the number of awards issued in the area.
"This is important, particularly in our current economic climate, because the people of - and visitors to - Fife have a great choice of well-managed beaches to visit."