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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.

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