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 187.


    I think it's time they sent in MI5 with the ole 'loaded umberella'! ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    'you would not let your kids shit on the beach, so why allow dogs???'
    I'll think you will find somw ppl do let their kids do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    I stopped going into the sea years ago after one of the many times this frequent 'news' story made the headlines.
    Still the same story and still large profits for water management companies whilst we pay more for their (lack of) effective service - and not forgetting overuse of fertilisers etc.
    Expect to read it in the annual headlines for years to come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Doesn't look very good, but as the standards are set by the EU it would be helpful to see what the scores are for a range of resorts in Northern mainland Europe - e.g. France down to Brest, and the eastern Channel/North Sea coast up to and round Denmark, then on to the German and Polish Baltic coasts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Iskander whined
    55 Minutes ago
    "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!"

    And so does cat filth and yet everyone in the neighborhood seems happy to let their moggies use my garden as a toilet!!! How about keeping your disgusting moggies on a short leash!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    I live in at the worlds busiest passenger port, in Kent. If that beach can pass with flying colours so should every other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Lancashire county council could help by stopping all the dog mess piling up on our beaches

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Cromer.I love Cromer but the beaches often have dog c**p on them. A lot of dog walkers are so antisocial that the beaches are a hazard area and you need to watch where you are walking.

    Shockingly, the local council allows dogs on the swimming beaches during winter.

    During the summer the new arrangement with life guards means that dogs cra****g on the beach are not part of their remit!


  • Comment number 179.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    @173 Iskander
    'As for dog waste that is a special case, dog worm carried by DOGS, blinds children.'
    Cat feces carries toxoplasmosis what do you propose to do about that, what about urban foxes in parks, human feces (which isn't ur responsibilty apparently) contains E. coli and is more likely to be the reason a child gets sick at the beech rather than dog poo as we pump it into the sea as sewage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Why dont we privatise them?..that seems the answer these days ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    Beaches in Essex are being stolen by off shore dredging . The next Essex beach to go will be Dovercourt, followed by Walton on the naze and Frinton. what are the Government doing about this NOTHING !

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    @ 167.Toxic Tel

    Mate I am not anti-dog, I am just anti lazy arse dog owners that refuse to pick their animals crap up that is all. As dog poo, like human poo needs to be treated not just allowed to sit on the beach until it is taken by the tide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Aberdeen is not on the list of dirty beaches. Surprised at that considered they closed a large chunk of it because of radioactive contamination. The researches probably didn't make it back. No, they didn't turn into superheros, they died of cancer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Bumble, that is not what I said, I said if they are paid to deal with the waste then it should be dealt with correctly, that is the same for the waste from anywhere, we should care about all our waste, nuclear, CO2, recyclables the lot!

    As for dog waste that is a special case, dog worm carried by DOGS, blinds children....including me! That is why they should be banned from public areas

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    We cannot throw all the blame onto the weather, surely. What about all the rubbish and other perishables that are chucked into the oceans from passing ships, and jettisoned aviation and marine fuel and oil? I have only to stroll along any beach at the tideline to see what has been washed up from these sources. It is only man who has created all the filth that finds its way into the sea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    So Toxic Tel (post 167) What did you do about the man you saw letting his dog foul the pathway?

    Have a go at the man and shame him and he might do something about it in the future. Saying nothing at the time but moaning about it later on forums and in the pub is typical of people in this country. We need to create a culture of looking after our neibourhoods & saying nothing won't help at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    123. Semisatanic

    'Dogs have lived with us since the Egyptians (at least)'

    So, probably, has Anthrax but that doesn't mean we should continue. Dogs have become a trophy. Predominantly seem to be owned by those missing something, either intelligence or love. I cannot see what people see in these animals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    @155 paulmerhaba "Isn't it courts rather than beaches that are failing safety standards for the public?"
    Spot on - Definately loads of effluent has come out of there today!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Wyy Holiday in the UK and risk poisioning when you swim? I feel much safer here in France - the atlantic coast is wonderful.


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