Monthly Archives: May 2009

Clean Seas + Great Beaches = Wonderful Open Water Swimming

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) of the UK has launched its user-friendly clean beaches guide. The online guide includes an interactive map with photos and information on hundreds of beaches with the latest water quality data for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The water quality data is visually presented in an easy-to-understand, easy-to-navigate online guide.

The MCS guide includes all the test data – obtained once per week from May to September by the relevant government agencies – and 300 other beaches that are not tested for water quality.

MCS recommends beaches that have passed 100% of the European Mandatory water quality ity tests with at least 80% of the tests passing the European Guideline total and fecal coliform standard and a minimum of 90% of the tests passing the European Guideline fecal streptococci standard. To attain the highest grade, the beaches must also not have poorly treated continuous waste water discharge. The runoff from rain (official ‘wet weather waivers’) are ignored.

MCS also provides information on beaches with bad water quality where swimming is not advised because the water failed the European legal minimum water quality standard and less than 95% of the samples passed the European Mandatory standard. The water at these beaches suffer gross contamination by sewage on at least two occasions in the previous swim season. MCS advises against swimming and other immersion water sports.

Photo shows Port Eynon in Swansea on the Gower peninsula in Britain. The MCS guide describes this as a perfect family beach and an area of outstanding natural beauty with lifeguards, easy access to parking and shopping with a wide expanse of golden sand and rock pools to explore at low tide.
Posted by Steven Munatones – read the original article here

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Britain’s dirtiest beaches 2009

(This article can be read in it’s original form at Virgin Media)

Failed British beaches for bad water quality

It’s a bad year for Britain’s beaches, with almost half of our favourite sunbathing spots announced as not “recommended” for swimming. Only 370 out of 777 British beaches, tested by the Marine Conservation Society, were “recommended” for their water quality.

We’ve rated Britain’s beaches to find the dirtiest.

9. South West beaches not making the water grade: 13

Last summer’s heavy rains attributed to poor water-quality in South West England, as a mixture of storm-pollution from combined sewer overflows, and animal waste from livestock, washed off farmland across the coast South East and into the sea.

Still, South West beaches still maintain the best water quality in the British Isles.

Failed beaches

Cornwall: Rock, Porth Beach, Porthluney Cove, Par, Readymoney, Looe East and Seaton beach.

Devon: Combe Martin, Instow, Mothercombe and Exmouth beach.

Plymouth: Plymouth Hoe – east and west beaches.

8. Northern Ireland beaches not making the water grade: 1

Although only one beach failed, compared to three last year, Northern Ireland continues to suffer from storm run-off carrying material like fertilisers and animal waste to sea. The heavy summer rainfall didn’t help. The province is investing £420 million to clean up the shoreline.

Failed beach

Down: Ballyholm

7. South East beaches not making the water grade: 2

Water pollution problems in the South East can be attributed to the region’s high population density coupled with extensive new housing developments, leading to storm pollution running off city streets and through emergency storm overflows into rivers and the sea.

Failed beaches

East Sussex: Bexhill

Kent: Sandgate Beach

6. Channel Islands beaches

Channel Islands – the only place in Britain where water quality has improved.

Beaches not making the water grade: 1

The Channel Islands, which were criticised heavily last year, was the only British region to show any improvement – rising by 37.5 per cent thanks to the much improved quality of Jersey beaches. The beaches have improved thanks to years of campaigning in conjunction with Surfers Against Sewage. The States of Guernsey have finally committed to invest in a new high tech sewage treatment plant.

Failed beach

Guernsey: Pembroke Bay.

5.  North East beaches not making the water grade: 5

Five beaches failed the minimum water quality. But, despite the poor weather, long stretches of coastline in Lincolnshire and Northumberland are now notable for consistently high water quality. However, Staithes, North Yorkshire has failed 17 times in the past 21 years. Not a place to take a dip.

Failed beaches

North Yorkshire: Staithes

Durham: Seaham Hall Beach

Sunderland : Seaburn Beach (Whitburn North)

North Tyneside: Seaton Sluice beach.

4. Scottish beaches not making the water grade: 17

In Scotland one in seven of 109 beaches tested did not reach the minimum standards. Due to the tenth wettest summer on record last year, MCS largely blames the drop in water quality on an increase in storm pollution. However, the Scottish Environment Agency is investing £2.15 billion to clean up the beaches.

Failed beaches

East Lothian: Dunbar – Belhaven, North Berwick – Milsey Bay, Fisherrow – West Beach.

City of Edinburgh: Portobello – Central James Street, Portobello – West (Kings Street) Beach.

Fife: Lower Largo, St Andrews – West Sands Beach.

Aberdeenshire: Aberdeen – Ballroom, Cruden Bay, Rosehearty.

Argyle & Bute: Ettrick bay, Bute Beach.

North Ayrshire: Saltcoats, Stevenston, Largs – Pencil, Largs- Main Beach.

South Ayrshire: Barassie and Greenan Beach.

Dumfries & Galloway: Sandyhills Beach.

3.  Welsh beaches not making the water grade: 30

One in six of its 180 beaches failed the water tests; that’s double-the-amount of beaches failing from last year. Although it’s not really the residents’ fault.

Welsh beaches are particularly vulnerable to storm pollution run-off from farmland, which carries fertiliser and animal waste into the sea. Add to that the high number of combined sewer outflows in the north and south of Wales. Still, Wales has a lot of cleaning up to do if they want to improve on their beaches.

Failed beaches

Credigion: Ynyslas – Twyni Beach (Estuary), Aberareon – Harbour (Forth), Little Quay (Cei Beach), Gilfach yr Halen, Llanina, New Quay – North Beach, Cwmtydu, Penbryn Beach.

Pembrokeshire: Abercastle, Nolton Haven, Gelliswick, Milford Haven, Wisemans Bridge Beach

Carmarthenshire: Llanstephan & Tywi Estuary, Ferryside Beach, Burry Port Beach – East, Llanelli & Loughor Estuary (Forth) Beach.

Neath & Port Talbot: Jersey Marine – West Beach.

Bridgend: Porthcawl – Newton Bay.

Vale of Glamorgan: Ogmore Central, Llantwit Major Beach, Limpert Bay, Aberthaw Barry – Watch House Bay, Penarth Beach.

2.  North West beaches not making the water grade: 6

Six beaches failed the minimum water quality. The majority of sewage is treated, but it’s clear that pollution from combined sewer overflows and storm run-offs is seriously affecting the majority of beaches in the North West.

Failed beaches

Northumberland: Spittal

Cumbria: Allonby, Newbiggin and Aldingham Beach.

Lancashire : Morecambe- South, Cleveleys and Fleetwood Beach.

Blackpool: Bispham Beach.

1.  Isle of Man  – the worst of the lot

Beaches not making the water grade: 3 beaches

On the Isle of Man only one beach out of 18 was recommended. Three beaches failed the water quality. The north and the west of the island are yet to be connected to the improved sewage system, and this means that raw excrement is still being pumped into the sea at a number of places.

The dangers of swimming in polluted water range from ear, throat, skin and eye infections to gastroenteritis, e-coli and even acute febrile respiratory illness, the MCS warned.

Failed beaches

Isle of Man : Douglas – Central, Douglas – Broadway, Garwick, Gansey Bay (NyCarrickey) Beach.

Leave a comment

Filed under Worst beaches

Island beaches lose their bathing status

SEVEN Island beaches have lost their ‘recommended’ status for bathing in the latest Good Beach Guide — just two weeks after the Isle of Wight was placed joint top in Britain for its number of quality beaches.
Of the 16 Island beaches tested, Gurnard, Ryde West, Shanklin, Totland Bay, Seagrove, St Helens and Whitecliff Bay all slipped off the list.
However, all seven achieved a basic pass and Southern Water and the Isle of Wight Council said every beach met European standards for bathing water quality.
The bathing water tests, carried out between May and September last year, coincided with the seventh wettest British summer on record.
With so much heavy rain, John Spence, Southern Water’s head of wastewater and environmental strategy, said run-off from roads and farmland or storm overflows entering the sea could have affected standards.
“We are pleased that, despite the rain, beaches on the Island again met the European standards. This success compares with just 41 per cent of beaches meeting the same standard in 1988, when South Water began a multi-million pound programme of work to help,” he said.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) published its Good Beach Guide for 2009, after testing 777 UK beaches.
Across Britain, recommended beaches fell by almost a sixth — the biggest annual fall in the guide’s 22-year history.
Thomas Bell, MCS coastal pollution officer, said: “These results reflect last summer’s heavy rain, which swept waterborne pollutants like raw sewage, petro-chemicals and farm waste into rivers and the sea.”
The society believes specific counter pollution measures are required now, including new farming practices, investment in sustainable urban drainage systems, a significant expansion of the sewer system, to handle large volumes of storm water, and end-of-pipe monitoring on combined sewer overflows.

• The Isle of Wight recently received 14 awards in the Keep Britain Tidy Blue Flags and Quality Coast Awards (QCA) — putting it joint top alongside Torbay, Devon.
• Ventnor and Sandown beaches have both been awarded prestigious blue flags, while 12 beaches have been given QCAs.
• QCA criteria includes good access, top facilities, such as lifeguard provision, being litter free and having clean bathing water. Similar criteria is also required for blue flag status, although the water quality test is more stringent.
• MCS Recommended is the only scheme focusing entirely on water quality standards and risk of sewage pollution.


Read the original article from TheIsle of Wight County Press Online here

Leave a comment

Filed under Water Quality

Isle of Man bottom of the clean beach league

THE Isle of Man has come off worst in a survey of beaches in the British Isles.
Derbyhaven was the only beach in the Isle of Man to have been recommended for its water quality in the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide this year.

Of our 18 beaches tested, 14 received a basic pass while a further three failed to meet the European Convention’s mandatory water quality standard. They were Garwick, Gansey and the Broadway stretch of Douglas beach.

The European Convention’s mandatory water quality standard is the legal minimum standard of levels of faecal waste and bacteria that indicate presence of pollution from sewage.

Other parts of the British Isles faired better than the Island for the number of beaches it had recommended by the MCS. The North West of England was ahead of the Island, achieving seven recommended beaches out of 34 tested.

Northern Ireland had seven recommended out of 23 and the Channel Islands had 11 out of 29.

However, the total number of beaches recommended overall was down 16.5 per cent on last year, meaning there will be 370 beaches making it into the MCS’s Good Beach Guide for 2009 compared with 444 for the 2008 edition.

Derbyhaven was again the only one recommended in the Island last year.

The overall number of beaches failing to meet the legal minimum standard was also up this year to 78 compared to 53 last year.



* South West 59% (75%)

* South East 58% (66%)

* North East 53% (68%)

* Wales 46% (57%)

* Scotland 38% (41%)

* Channel Is 38% (28%)

* N Ireland 30% (43%)

* North West 18% (21%)

* Isle of Man 6% (6%)

Percentage of beaches to get the top quality rating from the Marine Conservation Society. The figure in brackets is the 2008 result


Thomas Bell, MCS coastal pollution officer, said that the overall result was due to last summer’s heavy rain which swept waterborne pollutants like raw sewage, petro-chemicals and farm waste into rivers and the sea.

However, he suggested that the Island’s poor water quality results came down the IRIS sewage treatment works not delivering.

Mr Bell said where a beach failed, significant amounts of bacterial contamination were found to be in the sea in at least two of the 20 tests carried out at the locations.

‘I wouldn’t go swimming in a beach that failed. The risk of catching something is, for me, unacceptable,’ he said.

He added that water quality was letting the Island down.

The MCS said the Island has yet to see the real benefit to its beaches from the IRIS sewage scheme, which came on stream in 2004.

‘It is still not delivering the bathing water quality improvements that MCS expected from a facility costing an estimated £170 million — about £2,300 per person. The north and west of the Island have yet to be connected to the system and this means that raw sewage is still being discharged into the sea at a number of places around the Island, including Peel,’ the MCS said.

But Transport Minister David Anderson said the MCS had got its facts wrong about the IRIS scheme and stressed the scheme was delivering results.

In particular he said the amount spent on IRIS to date was £88m, not £170m.

He said while it was true that the north and west of the Island were not yet connected to IRIS, but this was being addressed by the IRIS regional strategy, which the department is progressing at the moment.

‘Prior to Meary Veg (treatment plant) coming online in 2004, the failure rate of our beaches, when looking at the mandatory cleanliness levels set out by the EU’s Bathing Water Directive, was 54 per cent,’ said Mr Anderson.

‘Today, that rate is 27 per cent. Those percentages relate to the Island as a whole. ‘However, beaches in the south and west have performed better in the last five years than the Island average, and taking these statistics into account, we are happy that IRIS is delivering.’

The Good Beach Guide is produced by MCS, a charity dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its wildlife.

The guide provides information about the quality of Britain’s coastal bathing waters as well as information on water quality and sewage discharges at 1,000 British Isles beaches.


I’m not surprised to hear about the Broadway stretch of beach and water.. It’s a mess! If I was a fish I’d be growing legs and learning to walk!

Interesting. One of the places I WOULDN’T swim on the Island is at Derbyhaven – the stink from the seaweed at times is so horrific it would put you off your picnic! Would much prefer to swim and picnic at Laxey or Fenella at Peel.

How totally embarrassing and unacceptable to be bottom of the pile and how unfortunately not surprising at all. Shame but thankfully Martin Clunes did not go swimming!

Re Beach Cleanliness, The article fails to address the issue of the debris on the islands beaches, most notably the plastic flotsam and jetsam that wash up all around the islands shores that are an eyesore as one walks around the island’s coastline. Why doesn’t one of the island’s government department simply hire some of the unskilled unemployed and get them cleaning it all up. As to the seaweed/smell issue – why not simply scoop all the decaying seaweed up and compost it – let the local farmers collect it. Seaweed is a phenomenal source of minerals and nurients that would benefit much of the agricultural land on the island.

Dr John Pilling, your ideas are good, only one problem, you are asking Government to THINK!

Life’s a Beach isn’t it! If I was afish I’d been in breadcrums or batter in the chippy. With Sellafield opposite the IOM what about the Nuclear waste drifting across the channel That must add to the unclean beach debate! However the gains with it are the giant Crabs and other weird sealife ,there could be a Manx version of Godzilla waiting To emerge from the depths.

So what are we going to do about it ? Who is responsible for Beaches and bathing quality? Why do we not have a statement explaining what is being done to improve on this going forward? If there is a problem with IRIS, what can be done to improve this? It is an embarrassment to have such filthy water, for a tourist destination. Who do we need to write to, to get things moving? Thank you
MATTHEW, Castletown

Our government needs to provide answers to how they are going to sort out this mess and make sure we have better results next year. Some members of the public also need to change their habits to get our beaches clean, namely; a) if you flush a sanitary towel or cotton wool bud down the toilet it will end up on our beaches. b) If you let your dog foul on the beach, the tide does not make it ‘magically’ disappear. c) The Marine Drive coastline is a moronic place to dump your unwanted bicycle, fridge or takeaway.
STEVE, Douglas

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘Freak rainfall’ to blame for pollution at Lothian beaches

NOT many people would be brave enough to take a dip at a Lothian beach and, according to a new survey, that might be just as well.

The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Beach Guide 2009, published today, has failed the beach at Portobello for its polluted water.

Fisherrow West in Musselburgh, North Berwick (Milsey Bay) and Dunbar (Belhaven) were also given black marksfor pollution caused by overflowing sewage systems.
The guide suggests Lothian swimmers should instead head to Seacliff, Thorntonloch and Yellowcraigs (Broad Sands Bay) in East Lothian, which achieved the highest possible standard.

Experts have blamed the disappointing results on “once in a lifetime” rainfall which fell when the water tests were being carried out in 2008.

The guide was compiled using water quality data gathered by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) between June and September last year.

Each of the failed beaches suffered from overflowing sewage systems caused by heavy rainfall in July and August 2008, and the MCS grading does not always take heavy rainfall into account.

Portobello was blighted by sewage released when the Joppa sewage pumping station overflowed. Sepa’s report said: “The rainfall during this period was greater than two and a half times the rainfall for the whole month, and was of a level which would be experienced once in a lifetime.

“This excessive rainfall resulted in the capacity of the pumps at Joppa sewage pumping station being exceeded for a greater period than normal, which resulted in more frequent operation of the sewer overflow.

“Scottish Water has taken additional steps to improve the robustness of this system.”

MCS’s Calum Duncan said: “Because of sewer overflows and run-off from farms, heavy rainfall can lead to even the best beaches becoming infected with sewage-related bacteria.”

Would you go swimming at a Lothian beach?

Darran Quigley, 31, driver technician, Forrester Park Avenue: “I don’t think I would because of the sewage works. I would maybe go swimming at a beach up north but not in the Lothians.”

Katherine Hegarty, 31, interior designer, Forrester Park Avenue: “No. Knowing the sewage systems can overflow when it rains puts you off.”

Read the original article from The Evening News, The Edinburgh Paper here

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Don’t swim here: 78 British beaches fail standards for clean water

The Cornish resort of Rock, dubbed Chelsea-on-Sea after princes William and Harry began frequenting its beaches and bars, has been exposed as having some of the dirtiest sea water in the country.

The beach at the town, where pebble-dashed bungalows sell for £3 million, is one of 78 in Britain that have failed to reach the European Commission’s mandatory standard for water quality.

Almost a sixth of the beaches in the 2009 Good Beach Guide have lost their recommendation for excellent water quality — the biggest year-on-year fall in the 22 years that the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has produced the guide.

For the first time since 2002 the number of recommended beaches is below 50 per cent of those tested. Water samples were taken from 777 British beaches, but only 370 were recommended this year for swimming, surfing or paddling.

Even popular resorts such as Blackpool, Weston-super-Mare, Teignmouth, Lyme Regis, Eastbourne, Southwold and Hunstanton achieved only a “basic pass” for water cleanliness — the minimum required by the European Commission. The North West has the lowest number of recommended beaches.

Bathing in dirty water can cause ear, nose, throat and eye infections, diarrhoea and gastroenteritis. Experts are blaming the results on last summer’s heavy rainfall, which increased pollution in rivers and seas. The water samples were taken between May and September last year.

Thomas Bell, the society’s coastal pollution officer, is convinced that sewerage and storm overflow systems need to be updated urgently.

He said: “MCS is now recommending 25 per cent fewer beaches than three years ago and we’re becoming concerned that the existing infrastructure for handling storm pollution may not be up to the job.

“There are 22,000 combined sewer overflows around the country and 500 near beaches. They are supposed to cope with a flooding emergency. We suspect there is a design fault, however, and the seasonal population increase combined with steady rain fills the sewers beyond their tipping point. We believe that places like Rock are suffering from excessive discharge from these overflows.”

He called on the Environment Agency and water companies to find the cause of the pollution. One possibility is that run-off from farmland, such as fertiliser, slurry and cattle or sheep faeces, is contaminating rivers.

Mr Bell added: “It’s almost a lucky dip for bathers. If it’s tipping with rain you take your chances in the water but if it’s a long, hot, dry summer water quality will improve.”

His advice was to choose beaches with a good record for water quality, to stay out of the water for at least 24 hours after heavy rainfall and to report pollution to the marine society.

Read the original article from Times Online here

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘Half UK Beaches Too Dirty For Swimmers’

Fewer than half Britain’s beaches are fit for swimmers, according to a new report.

Brighton beach

Only 370 UK beaches are “MCS recommended” this year out of 777 tested

The number of UK bathing spots recommended for having excellent water quality in the latest Good Beach Guide has dropped by almost a sixth this year.

The fall is the biggest year-on-year drop in the 22-year history of the guide produced by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

A total of 370 UK beaches are “MCS recommended” this year out of 777 tested – the first time since 2002 that fewer than half made the grade.

Those that failed even the mandatory EC standards for water quality increased by almost half to 78, up from 53 the previous year.

MCS conservation manager, Calum Duncan, said: “A beach may look safe, with clean sand, but it is the water quality that is the danger.

“Polluted water is not always obvious to the eye, so to be safe it is best to check our list of 370 recommended beaches.”

We’re becoming concerned that the existing infrastructure for handling storm pollution may not be up to the job.

Thomas Bell, MCS coastal pollution officer

The society put the fall in water quality standards down to the heavy rain last summer which increased pollution in the rivers and the seas.

The latest bathing water tests were carried out between May and September 2008, coinciding with the seventh wettest British summer on record.

Thomas Bell, MCS coastal pollution officer, said: “Today’s results reflect last summer’s heavy rain which swept waterborne pollutants like raw sewage, petro-chemicals and farm waste into rivers and the sea.

“We are concerned that the existing infrastructure for handling storm pollution is not up to the job.”

180 tractor tows a truck floods in UK

Bad weather in 2008

Specific counter-pollution measures, including investment in more sustainable urban drainage systems, new farming practices and expansion of the sewer system to handle storm water, are now thought to be needed in the face of changing weather patterns brought on by climate change.

Mr Duncan pointed to overflow storage as a particular problem: “The overflow tanks that we currently have in place are not large enough and when we have heavy rain they get filled too quickly.

“This means that the storm drains begin to spew pollution into the sea faster than need be and our overflow capacity needs to be increased.”

Mr Bell added that in order to avoid health risks, people should pick places to swim in the sea which had a good water quality record, stay out of the water for at least 24 hours after heavy storms and report pollution problems to the MCS.

Read the original article from SKY News here

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized