Thanet beaches warning 'scaremongering'

Ramsgate beach Ramsgate was one of five Thanet beaches named by Surfers Against Sewage

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A Kent council has hit back at claims that five of its beaches should lose their Blue Flag water quality status as scaremongering.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) included the Thanet beaches among 34 in Britain which it said did not warn the public about raw sewage in the sea.

Providing warnings is a requirement imposed by the Blue Flag programme.

But Thanet District Council said water quality dipped on one day in July when screened sewage was legally discharged.

It said the discharge, after a storm, took place nearly two miles out at sea.

Short-term pollution

Using the Freedom of Information Act, SAS found local authorities responsible for the 34 beaches did not request real-time information on combined sewage overflow discharge.

"Under the Blue Flag scheme, they must inform the public about these short-term pollution incidents - that is mandatory under the scheme," said director Hugo Tagholm.

The Thanet beaches named were Joss Bay, Margate main beach, West Bay at Westgate, Botany Bay and Ramsgate main beach.

'Perfectly swimmable'

"I do think there is a lot of scaremongering going on here about the impact on people," said director of environmental services Mark Seed.

"Even where the quality dropped, effectively on one day, the water quality in relation to current standards was perfectly swimmable.

"It wouldn't cause any health problems to anybody who chose to go in the water."

Surf instructor Dave Melmoth said such negative comments had an adverse effect on business.

"I personally think it would be nice if they actually came to the beaches they are talking about.

"I am a little disappointed that we are all in the same business and nobody has even mentioned it to me."

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