Bathing Water compliance has an uncertain future

In 2015 the EU Bathing Water standards alter to reflect those of the new Bathing Water Directive 2006/7/EC .

Official opinion is that the new Directive delivers stricter standards than the old Directive, and that therefore in 2015 less sea bathing waters are likely to comply than at present.

However, Marinet observes that two facts in relation to the new Directive bring this official opinion into question. Firstly, samples may be ignored if a “short-term” pollution event is deemed to have occurred when the sample was taken, and the sample may then be retaken at a day within the next seven days, i.e. after the pollution event has subsided. Secondly, only one sample is required to be taken each month under the new regime, compared to fortnightly under the old regime.

The microbiological standards under the new Directive are stricter, but whether the new Directive will in fact set a more testing standard for UK beaches in 2015 remains to be seen.

Regarding the results for 2014, The Guardian reports, 6th November 2014: “One in 20 English beaches which currently pass standards for cleanliness will fail tougher tests which come in next year, figures show. Under tougher European standards which come into force next year, 5% of those beaches which are currently reaching the mandatory standards will be classed as “poor”, reducing the number achieving the required level of cleanliness to 94.5%.

Blackpool North beach is one of the beaches in England set to fail tough new EU cleanliness standards.

Blackpool North beach is one of the beaches in England set to fail tough new EU cleanliness standards.
Photograph: Christopher Thomond.

More than 20 beaches are projected not to make the grade, including Blackpool North and Blackpool Central, Lancashire and Seaton and East Looe in Cornwall.

The bathing water statistics from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed the number of beaches which reached mandatory levels for cleanliness increased from 98.8% in 2013 to 99.5% this year in England.

In Wales all beaches tested met the mandatory level of cleanliness, in Scotland 97.5% passed bathing water tests and 95.7% of beaches in Northern Ireland made the grade.

The figures also showed that the proportion of beaches reaching existing higher “guideline” standards of cleanliness fell slightly in 2014.

In England, 80.7% of beaches meet the higher grade, a slight drop on 83.5% in 2013. In Wales 88.1% of bathing spots achieved the higher standards, as did 55.6% in Scotland and 69.6% in Northern Ireland — where it fell from 87% the previous year.”


Defra website:

The Guardian 6th November 2014. For the full text, see

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