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What to do when a dirty beach ruins your holiday?

For most of us, our summer holiday is a much anticipated event. We save up, book a long time in advance, ask the boss for time off work, buy new clothes – in short – it is a big deal!

What happens then, when you reach your destination or resort, head for the beach, only to discover it’s nothing like the brochure promised. Those turquoise seas and white beaches are replaced by litter,debris and runaway construction work. Filthy streams or sewage pipes running down into the sea; which turns out to be a grey foamy mess of floating plastic bags or worse? We don’t always have transport on holiday so quite often we’re stuck with what’s within walking distance of where we’re staying.

Many of us are rightly very upset and disappointed by this situation. In the UK, we have a certain ‘watchdog’ mentality of recording the probelms we encounter on holiday. This is great if something gets done about it, but often we just receive an apology from the holiday company, perhaps a partial refund if we’re lucky. But the beach? Nothing gets done.

What to do about it?

  • Firstly do bear in mind that in most cases the hotel you are staying at will not be directly responsible for the beaches nearby (unless it’s their own private beach). However if the beaches are advertised in their brochures as part of the holifay and include pictures which are misrepresentative, then it’s my opinion that you have a right to complain.
  • While you’re still away , complain to the tour company representative in the resort straight away. The rep should provide you with a customer complaint form.
  • Take photographs or video footage to back you up
  • Back home, there are plenty of travel community sites like www.tripadvisor.com where you can register and write reviews of the places you’ve visited. This lets others know what to expect of the same desitinations.
  • Keep writing those letters of complaint, to both the agent you booked with and also directly to the hotel. If they don’t know they won’t be able to fix it! Don’t assume someone else will make a complaint, or leave it weeks and weeks before you get round it. Anythng over 28 days is too long
  • If you can find out who the local council is that is charge of the beach, write to them too.

Corona Save The Beach – Getting something done

This summer, one of the best ways of getting something done about dirty beaches on holiday is to send in your photo or video evidence to Corona Save The Beach

Corona have pledged to clean up and protect the worst beaches in Europe and the UK – and keep them that way. Visitors to the website can vote on which beaches they consider to be in most need of help. This is a sure fire way of getting attention where it’s needed.

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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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‘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

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