Good Beach Guide puts Welsh bathing water quality at highest in 25 years

Church Rock, Broad Haven. Pic: Mari Owen Photography Broad Haven beach in Pembrokeshire is among the beaches recommended in the Guide

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The number of Welsh beaches with excellent bathing water has risen by 20% to its highest number in 25 years, says an environmental charity.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Good Beach Guide found 121 of 152 tested met the standard.

Two beaches - Llandudno west shore in Conwy and Pwllgwaelod in Pembrokeshire - did not meet minimum EU standards.

Last year, 92 Welsh beaches had excellent bathing water quality, and 11 failed to meet minimum EU standards.

The previous year MCS tested more beaches - 169 - with 94 being rated as excellent for water quality and 10 beaches failing to make the standard.

Start Quote

The fact that there are so many beaches with great water quality to choose from can only be a good thing for tourism in Wales”

End Quote Dr Lou Luddington Marine Conservation Society

Wales' total is the best since the Good Beach Guide began 25 years ago. The nation has fared well in this year's guide in comparison to other parts of the UK.

In Scotland just 45 out of 110 (41%) bathing waters were recommended - 5% fewer than the previous year.

MCS said it found water quality in the north west of England "worryingly low".

Dr Luddington, MCS's Welsh projects officer, said the results, the best in the guide's 25-year history, marked a "milestone for coastal resorts in Wales to be proud of."

"It's great news for Wales," she said.

'Complacency'

"With many people choosing to stay at home for their annual holiday, the fact that there are so many beaches with great water quality to choose from can only be a good thing for tourism in Wales."

However, she warned local agencies in Wales against complacency.

"This summer will see the first samples taken under the revised Bathing Water Directive which will replace the current standards with far more stringent ones from 2015," she added.

"It's really important that local authorities, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Environment Agency Wales don't become complacent and take their collective feet off the pedal of continued environmental improvements.

NEWLY DESIGNATED BATHING WATERS

  • Porth Neigwl Beach, Gwynedd
  • Morfa Nefyn Beach, Gwynedd
  • Marine Lake, Denbighshire
  • Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire
  • Wisemans Bridge, Pembrokeshire
  • Druidston Haven, Pembrokeshire
  • Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire
  • Little Haven, Pembrokeshire
  • Nolton Haven, Pembrokeshire
  • Penally, Pembrokeshire
  • Sandy Haven, Pembrokeshire
  • Source: MCS

"If that happens we could see a drop in the number of beaches recommended by us in the future, which could pose a risk to the great reputation that Welsh beaches have."

MCS said it hoped that plans by the Green Sea Partnership, which includes the Welsh government, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Environment Agency Wales, local authorities and MCS, would lead to further improvements in bathing water quality.

Twelve new beaches were designated officially recognised bathing waters by the Welsh government because of their popularity with swimmers, said MCS.

The beaches must meet legal minimum standards for bathing water quality, with a legislative incentive for investment if any improvements are needed.

Dr Luddington said beach owners whose beaches are not designated, but are popular with bathers, should consider applying for designation.

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