Rise in beaches failing safety standards

Beach in Blyth, Northumberland

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The number of beaches failing to meet minimum standards for water quality has risen following last year's wet summer.

A total of 42 beaches failed to meet the minimum EU levels expected for bathing water in testing in 2012, a rise of 17 on 2011's figures.

Heavy rain and flooding is blamed for washing pollution from town and sewers down to the sea.

There was also a huge drop in the number of beaches recommended for bathing in the latest Good Beach Guide.

Good Beach Guide: Top regions*































East Sussex



Only 403 of the 754 UK beaches assessed were awarded the top "recommended" award for their water quality in 2012, 113 fewer beaches than in the previous guide.

The previous year, a record number of beaches were given the top award.

Ear infections

The Marine Conservation Society, which publishes the Good Beach Guide, warned swimmers could fall ill from bathing in polluted water.

It said the rain and flooding led to an increase in bacteria and viruses in bathing water, coming from a variety of sources such as agricultural and urban run-off, storm waters, plumbing misconnections, septic tanks and dog waste.

The pollution can cause ear, nose and throat infections and even gastroenteritis.

The society said there was an urgent need for improved monitoring of overflow pipes which can discharge raw sewage into rivers and the sea from sewer networks when heavy rain overloads the system with water from street drains.

Least recommended regions*




Redcar and Cleveland












Dumfries & Galloway



Isle of Man



South Ayrshire









North Ayrshire



* With more than five beaches

Action was also needed to reduce pollution from farms and urban areas, ahead of tougher EU rules on water quality coming in from 2015, it said.

Coastal pollution officer Rachel Wyatt said: "Action must be taken now. With stricter bathing water standards from 2015 and summers that appear to be getting wetter, the iconic image of people bathing off golden beaches could be at serious risk.

"There is no simple solution to sewage and animal waste reaching our seas. However if the water industry, communities and local authorities recognise that there is a problem and begin to work together to find answers that would be a significant start."

The MCS said there were some promising local partnerships working together to identify problems and start trying to fix them, but in too many places there was an "out of sight, out of mind mentality" over water pollution.

The South West saw a number of its previously recommended beaches fail last year, including Plymouth Hoe East and West, Shaldon and Exmouth in Devon, East Looe and Bude Summerleaze in Cornwall and Charmouth West in Dorset.

In the North West, just three beaches are recommended for excellent water quality in the new guide, with popular beaches at Blackpool North and South failing to meet even the basic mandatory standards.

But Blackpool central and nearby St Anne's and St Anne's North beaches improved their water quality to reach the mandatory standard last year.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    I don't understand why dogs are ever allowed on the beach. Ok, they're restricted to the off season but humans enjoy beaches all year around. We're paying water companies all this money to stop even processed excrement getting onto the beach, then we let dog owners to put it right there fresh!

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Is this article really a concern when the average daytime temperature is 0°C?

  • Comment number 145.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Semisatanic and all the other dog muck defenders! There is a reason dog muck is now removed, and the removal enforced - DOG MUCK KILLS OR BLINDS! Do the research, toxocara.

    As for my effluent I pay for it to be removed and treated by the water company, if they do not treat it properly fine them until it hurts and use the fines to build new sewage treatment plants/sewers which they have to lease.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    So despite South West Water continually charging us the highest bills of any of the water companies, the quality of the beaches is deteriorating?

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    The post by ed_butt is completely correct. Sometimes you cant help the pollution being moved around by the tide however we can all help a little bit by thinking about what we throw away and using a bin where possible. Especially us dog owners, its awful to see that someone has bagged up dog foul and not binned it, don't do half a job just bag it and bin it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Perhaps my fellow contributors could advise me of how many years HYS has been running? It seems like only yesterday that it started but I am convinced that the topic of beaches comes up every single year and that I have posted on it at least three times, referencing the superlative qualities of Birmingham Beach, and the temporal whereabouts of Echo Beach....

  • Comment number 140.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Here we are debating beaches when Abu Quatada is going to be allowed to stay in Britain and will be released again.

    Is this not imore important in the scheme of things?

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    @130.family guy

    I'll be going to Skegness for my Summer Hols again...

    I walk there and put up a tent. I buy postcards and British seaside memorabilia . I walk the beach at 6am each morning collecting litter to take to the recycling centre each day. Evenings are spent with my telescope.

    Why aren't more people like me?

    I am single.
    Because Milletts has sold out of anoraks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Considering the previous year was a record year for quality beaches, you would expect things to fall after that; constant linear improvement is difficult.

    Round one of the local beaches dog waste isn't so much of a problem as cow waste. One of the burns often runs brown with the stuff. I'm not sure that's legal. The beach itself is filled with dead fish, porpoises & birds, so not the cleanest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Why? Oh Why? Oh Why? ... Why bother?

    The weather is gorgeous in the Bahamas,,, and the Sea and Beaches are just to die for... why don't people go there instead? It only cost me £18k for 4 weeks in February... I even took the missus at those rates!

    ...a no-brainer.for anyone surely?

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Beaches and Dunes should be a place to enjoy and children to play, yet beaches & dunes like Brean, LLandudno, Borth, Dawlish, Minehead etc etc are covered in litter and dog feces.
    Fine these people and use the money to pay for the wardens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Global Warming = Dirty Beaches...well, just what's the point in it getting 'alledgedly' hotter and not being able to go down the beach to enjoy it!....Silly climate...

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Privatisation of the water companies never worked then? what a surprise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    A lot of people here seem not to have read the article - it's about water quality - not whether the beach itself is clean or not. I agree about not littering the beach etc, but being made ill by the water is a much bigger risk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    If you guys want to know the truth about this!
    Our country is still dependant on a mostly Victorian drainage system.
    Parts of it are still Roman.
    And while our Utility companies are making huge profits they do nothing to get us out of the dark ages.
    They would need a 100 year contract to even think about replacing half the problems with our countries drainage system!
    Most don't even understand it

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    I live in Lincolnshire, but I'll be going to Skegness for my Summer Hols again this year... even though its only 5 miles from my home.

    I walk there and put up a tent. I buy postcards and British seaside memorabilia . I walk the beach at 6am each morning collecting litter to take to the recycling centre each day. Evenings are spent with my telescope.

    Why aren't more people like me?

    I am single.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.


    The country is falling to bits and we are discussing beaches......????????


    No it's not. Dave has just left the Liebour Party! One down, one to go!

    I might go to the beach to celebrate!

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    @126 Perpetual Sigh
    'Be careful what you wish for regarding sewage, we don't want another unregulated free market disaster ala water and electricity on our hands.'
    We already pay the water companies to deal with it, shame they don't.


Page 7 of 14


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