Category Archives: Water Quality

Britain’s beaches fail European hygiene standards

Britain’s beaches fail European hygiene standards
An increasing number of popular swimming spots in the UK have failed to meet European hygiene standards including parts of Lake Windemere, the chic Cornish resort of Rock in Cornwall and Sandgate in Kent.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Published: 6:03PM BST 12 Jun 2009
Britain’s beaches fail European hygiene standards
Rock beach in Cornwall which has failed European hygiene standards Photo: MARTIN POPE

The vast majority of the nation’s favourite coastal areas and inland lakes or rivers meet strict EU bathing water cleanliness standards.

However the heavy rains last summer means that more sewage, litter and chemical run-off from farms was found in the 608 swimming spots assessed last year. Some 24 coastal areas and Millerground Landings in Lake Windermere failed to meet the minimum standard, which means they may not be safe to swim in at certain times of year or in particular areas. This is a rise from the 20 beaches that failed the test in 2007.

The EU does not consider the bathing areas dirty enough to close them down but leaves it up to the local authority or Environment Agency to test the water and advise the public if it is safe to swim.

Most of the UK bathing areas needing improvement were in the South West – Devon and Cornwall – and in Scotland including Portobello in Edinburgh and beaches around Plymouth.

Earlier in the year the Marine Conservation Society recommended just 370 out of 775 of the UK’s most popular bathing beaches in its annual Good Beach Guide, a fall of 17 per cent on last year and the lowest number since 2002.

Keep Britain Tidy have also reported the number of beaches awarded a Blue Flag for overall cleanliness this year fell by 11 to 71 – although that is still an improvement from 2002 when just 45 made the grade.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it is tackling the problem of pollution from sewers by tightening standards to stop leaks. The problem of run off from farms is being dealt with by awarding grants to build fences between livestock and watercourses and controlling use of chemicals.

“We’re working to improve sewerage systems and are aware of the effect heavy rain and flooding can have on our coastal bathing waters” said a spokesman.

The EU carried out tests at more than 21,000 bathing spots around 27 countries last year. The vast majority in favourite holiday spots like Cyprus, France and Spain met EU hygiene requirements with 96 per cent of the total coastal bathing areas and 92 per cent of bathing sites in rivers and lakes up to standard.

UK beaches and inland swimming spots failing to meet minimum EU clean water standards in 2008 were:

Northern Ireland:



Machrihanish (Argyll and Bute),

Saltcoats/Ardrossan (North Ayrshire)

Sandyhills (Dumfries and Galloway)

Portobello Central (Edinburgh)

Rosehearty (Aberdeenshire),

Cruden Bay (Aberdeenshire)




South West:

Seaton (Cornwall)

East Looe (Cornwall)

Rock (Cornwall)

Readymoney (Cornwall)

Porthluney (Cornwall)

Plymouth Hoe East (Devon)

Plymouth Hoe West (Devon)

Exmouth (Devon)

Instow (Devon)

Coombe Martin (Devon)


Allonby (Cumbria)

St Bees (Cumbria)

Aldingham (Cumbria)

Windermere, Millerground landings (Cumbria)

Yorkshire and Humberside:

Staithes (North Yorkshire)

South East:

Sandgate (Kent).

Read the original article from the here



Filed under litter, Sea Pollution, Water Quality

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

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