Eight Devon beaches fail minimum water standards

Bantham beach
Image caption The Environment Agency said heavy rainfall caused beaches, including Bantham, to be polluted

Eight Devon beaches have failed the most basic tests for bathing waters, according to a new report.

Bantham, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Instow Mothecombe, Plymouth Hoe East, Plymouth Hoe West and Shaldon failed mandatory compliance under European rules, the Environment Agency said.

The agency said "exceptionally heavy rainfall" resulted in more pollution.

However, Combe Martin and Ilfracombe Wildersmouth beaches which previously failed tests had passed.

South West agency director Richard Cresswell said: "During intense rainfall, pollution from farmland, roads, and drains was washed into water courses that finally end up in the sea.

"Water companies also operate combined sewage overflows to prevent sewage from backing up and flooding people's homes."

The Health Protection Agency said local authorities had to ensure there were prominent signs on any designated bathing beaches to inform the public.

It said such signs would contain safety messages and information about bathing, and visitors should observe any advice they gave.

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