More Devon's beaches meet top bathing water quality

Instow beach, Devon
Image caption Instow was one of only three beaches in Devon which failed to meet the mandatory standard

Most of Devon beaches have reached the highest European standards for bathing water quality.

More than 60 bathing waters were tested, with 94% classed as "good" and 84% of those graded as "excellent".

The only three to fail the mandatory standard were Instow, Mothecombe and Seaton.

The Environment Agency monitors water quality for bacteria between May and September, but tougher standards are due to come into force in 2015.

It said 86% of beaches and bathing spots across the UK reached the standard quality this year, compared with 80% in 2009.

South West Water (SWW) said the results were a tribute to its £2bn, 20-year "Clean Sweep" programme to improve beach water quality in the South West.

'Great strides'

Operations director Stephen Bird said SWW's future focus was to ensure residents and visitors could experience the benefits of cleaner bathing waters "for generations to come".

Before Clean Sweep, only 38 bathing waters in the South West consistently met the excellent standard.

Visit Devon welcomed the results and said it showed the county had some of the best beaches in England.

Spokeswoman Rosie Bates said: "As the only county with two coastlines, there's a huge range of places to visit - from long sandy stretches to hidden coves tucked away in the cliffs.

"We are making great strides in improving access, facilities and water quality so that whatever the weather, everyone can enjoy a day by the sea."

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